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1 of 276: 1956 Packard Caribbean Garage Find!

For 1956, the Caribbean was the top-of-the-line Packard. And the last built in Detroit. For 1957, production was consolidated with Studebaker in South Bend and the 58-year-old marque would begin to fade away. The 1957-58 Packards were simply redressed Stubebakers. This 1956 Caribbean convertible is said to be a garage find where it looks to have been sitting under a tarp. The seller suggests it might not take a lot to get it running again. Located in Cicero, Indiana, the car is available here on eBay where it’s listed with no reserve!

Both Packard and Studebaker were having their own financial woes at the mid-point of the 20th Century and joined forces in 1953 to become Studebaker-Packard Corporation. At least for the Packard camp, this move only postponed the inevitable and the brand disappeared altogether in 1958 after masquerading as Studebakers for the past two years. The 1956 Packards were the last of the real deal.

The Caribbean was a personal luxury car produced by Packard from 1953-56 and got some of its styling cues from the Pan American Packard show car in 1952. At first, it was only available as a convertible, but a hardtop was added for the final year of production. Interiors of the Caribbean were upholstered in leather and the cars were loaded with goodies, like the push-button Ultramatic transmission and power windows. For the final year of the Caribbean, it saw just 263 hardtops and 276 convertibles built.

We’re only treated to one photo of the exterior of the seller’s car, so the paint looks pretty tired, but the ginormous chrome bumper and glass may be okay. The Caribbean appears to have been finished in a trio combination of Dover White/Scottish Heather/Adriatic Blue Metallic. We only see a portion of the convertible top and it doesn’t appear to have any issues, but the tarp covers much of it.

The engine under the hood should be Packard’s 374 cubic inch with dual 4-barrel carb that put out 310 hp. This configuration was only available in the Caribbean for 1956. The seller may have tried to get it going as we’re told that rust in the fuel lines is the only known problem. But if it’s not running, how do we know what other issues there are from sitting? We’re told the odometer reading is about 73,000 miles.

What we can see of the interior seems to have held up. We don’t get to see much of the front seat, but the leather in the back looks fairly good. And one door panel, steering wheel and dashboard seem okay. We’re not sure about the floor coverings and the condition of the trunk floor. Lots of badly worn boxes and parts as well as a second spare tire tend to cover things up.

Any way you cut it, this car will require a restoration, but it’s hard to tell how far that has to go with the lack of good visuals. For the four-year run of the Caribbean, the 1953 (first year) model seems to generate the most collector interest and six-figures for a spotless copy is not unheard of. Hagerty says a Concours 1956 hardtop should be worth $40,000, so the ragtop would be higher.


  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    I’ve seen a few of these in-person and they are very impressive! They really do have a “Caribbean” vibe to them without feeling cheesy. This is the year to have too. The twin antennas look like fishing poles and the trick double-sided seat cushions seem like they would be better suited to a boat than a car – with leather on one side and cloth on the other. This is a very special car and I wish it was headed to my garage!

    Like 29
    • Ricky Dinkins

      When viewing barn finds and I wish to find out more or got to ” find it here on eBay” I click on the red letter find it , but it circles back to barn find instead of taking me to eBay to actually bid on a gem.
      What am I doing wrong.
      I want the 56 Packard in Indiana. But can’t get to it on ebay

      Like 0
      • Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

        Can you go to ebay and search Packard? I just did that, and the car was right there on the list, bid up to $13,300.
        Search “Packard”, then on the left, there’s a “cars and trucks” button, click that, and the Packards will show up.

        Like 3
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    It seems like there is plenty of interest in this 64-year-old car.That back seat surely does look like it’s from a boat of the era.

    Like 7
  3. MattR Member

    You have me sold with those details Jesse. That back seat does really give off a boat vibe. So appropriate with a big ‘Caribbean’ convertible. There should be one of these running around Cuba!

    Like 6
  4. Howard A Member

    Needle in a haystack here. One of the most fantastic, and least appreciated cars ever made. So much history with this car, it could fill volumes. Had any other car maker made this, it would have been a roaring success, but the reason these are so few, I think, is there was strike and took a long time to get the cars, and many cancelled the orders, worsening the situation at Packard ( idiots, they had a winner here) Make no mistake, this car is in very poor condition, while I’m sure Kanter in NJ has everything mechanical, except maybe those fancy torsion bar suspension parts, everything else will have to be made. I hope someone with deep pockets steps up and restores this old gal with years of quality cars behind it, not to mention the war effort,, this was the best Packard ever made. So sad to see it like this, but there’s hope.

    Like 23
  5. Weasel

    Nothing says I care more than a tarp for a car cover to trap the moisture in, other than maybe a universal radiator hose. Pride of ownership all the way.

    Not a sustainer

    Like 4
  6. Mr. Bond

    310 hp in 1956 is impressive.

    Like 8
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Dual 4-barrel, 310 hp, pushbutton drive and class A styling.

      Oh yeah.

      Like 11
      • James HGF

        The 310 hp rating is the SAE Gross. US manufacturers switched to SAE Net in 1972. Realistic Net estimate for the Packard is 245 to 250 hp. Performance figures form Automobile Catalogue online appear to be accurate with a 0-60 mph time of 9.6 seconds and a 1/4 mile at 17.6 seconds @ 78 mph.

        Road & Track’s Apr ‘58 numbers for the ’57 Chrysler 300D convertible were 0-60 mph 8.4 seconds and 1/4 mile at 16 seconds @ 85 mph. 300D was rated at 380 SAE Gross hp. Weight of both cars nearly identical at 5,000 lbs give or take a few.

        Chrysler began advertising both SAE Gross and SAE Net figures in 1971. In ‘71 426 hemi was rated at 425 hp gross and 350 hp net.

        What’s impressive about the ’55 – ’56 Clipper and Packard design is that it’s an extreme face-lift (wraparound windshield) of the basic body that served Packard from ’51 – ’54. The old body lines are easily recognized in the Junior i.e.: Clipper models. The Senior line disguises the old shape more effectively, note the rear fender “air intake”.

        There’s a ’56 Caribbean available from a private seller in Scotland for £ 59,000 as shown on Car and Classic in the UK:


        Long time Scottsdale & Palm Springs car per seller info.

        Like 7
  7. CCFisher

    Truly a fabulous car! Only the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz compares in my eyes.

    As I understand it, Packard was relatively healthy at the time it bought Studebaker. The intent was to merge the joined marques into American Motors, but George Mason’s death cancelled those plans, because his replacement, George Romney, wasn’t interested in the merger. This left Packard stuck with Studebaker, which was in worse shape than anticipated. There was no capital to develop new models or build a much-needed new manufacturing facility.

    Had Packard remained independent and invested in the Packard brand instead of buying Studebaker, things might have turned out very differently.

    Like 15
    • FleetB

      When Packard bought Studebaker in 1954 it was more like two drunks holding each other up. Packard was not in good financial standing. they would’ve folded anyway. I love, and have owned both marques.

      Like 1
  8. SourPwr

    (From the eBay ad) It’s a 360, it’s a 350, it’s a 374……

    Like 2
  9. Skorzeny

    I found one of these for sale, a convertible, supposedly in excellent condition for $66,500. So if you restore this, you’ll probably be under water. But for its rarity, and what it is, it sure deserves it. One can hope…

    Like 6
    • Bill Hall

      Money isn’t everything when t comes to something like this. Lots depends on what can do yourself and how far do you want to go?

      Like 0
  10. Maestro1 Member

    Howard, good to hear from you and yes, if one were to keep it for what it is and not worry about values, the car is absolutely worth saving and frankly if i had the room I’d get serious about it.
    I really dislike auctions and no reserve nonsense. Call the seller and ask them what they want for the car. Explain that you are an able and cash buyer. See what happens.

    Like 6
  11. Vince H

    Will take serious money for this car. I wonder what the other side of the seats look like. They were reversible. The bids are rolling in so somebody wants it. I would like it but I am not taking on a project like this at my age.

    Like 3
  12. Christopher A. Junker

    If I correctly recall, the Packard Club of America had a special support group for these cars. A fellow named Ed Franko in Rochester NY was active in it many years ago, perhaps there still are members. His convertible was drop dead gorgeous. Best wishes and hope you find someone willing to restore it, like Jay Leno.

    Like 4
  13. Poppapork

    They are cobbled together not because of their govermnent or salt air but almost 70 year of ruthless embargo on a poor tropical island with almost zero natural resources that started years before the revolution and following missle crisis.
    Its a miracle that Cuba turned out so well with lower newborn mortality rate and higher life expectancy than United States.

    This car is abaolutely marvelous!

    Like 12
  14. Poppapork

    Thats episodical opinions
    From immigrants (guess what mine about Europe are) but i didnt even share a single opinion (this is not the right place) I shared data-statistics wildly accepted and available:


    And thats from the Central Inteligence Agency so don’t try to convince us its “Cuba optimistic”.

    Like 2
    • Garygsr Member

      Maybe talk to people that lived through it, not central intelligence agency. I know a lot better than them

      Like 8
    • mike williams

      You mean the CIA under and its pinko DCI. Look up Millie Weaver and movie called Shadowgate and the CIA ain’t the CIA of old. I retired from “another goverenment agency” and the entire intel community is all deep staters.

      Like 1
    • JP

      Whatever, Goob. Notice how Qanon isn’t returning your calls anymore?

      Like 2
    • scottymac

      Thank you for the facts Senator Bernie. I helped build a tent city for the Mariel boatlift refugees. Now you can tell me they were all convicts.

      Like 1
    • Jonny the Boy

      EVERYONE: The rules listed below the box where you reply say, among other things, NO POLITICS.

      Like 1
  15. Major Thom

    California does.
    Oh, and salt air, too.

    Like 5
    • JP

      Then feel free to remain in the Ozarks, where all you need is a trailer.

      Like 1
    • DN

      jp 🤣🤣🔥🔥👏🏽👏🏽

      Like 0
    • Major Thom

      JP aww did I upset you sweetie?

      Like 1
    • JP

      Nah, Goobers from the hills don’t really blip my radar much…

      Like 0
  16. Dave Mathers

    I remember these Caribbeans brand new and they were drop dead gorgeous with their tri-coloured exteriors and amazing, ‘tuck and roll’ interiors. Sadly Packard went the way of the dodo soon after these cars were built.

    Like 2
  17. Timothy T Frost

    ,… just mismanagement!

    Like 1
    • JP

      Which is why we have the world’s 5th largest economy, right?

      Like 0
    • Rick Rothermel

      Well, you DID have that, JP, before the middle class vacated the state thanks to the mismanagement in Sickramento. I did too. Even Hollywood moved to Atlanta… keep dreamin’, babe. Not politics, just history.

      Like 1
    • JP

      Yeah, there’s no middle class in CA anymore. Right. Your story about a previous residence here is totally believable too, But hey, the more Goobs who leave for MS and KY, the happier the rest of us are. Glad you’re history!

      Like 2
  18. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I’ve owned several hundred Packards from the 1930s to 1958, and it’s my opinion that the the 1956 Packard Caribbean was, and still is, one of the finest monuments to the 1950s American dream.

    Until you have had the incredible opportunity to drive [or even ride in] a low mileage 1956 Packard Patrician, 400 hardtop, or Caribbean, you’ve not experienced the finest that America had to offer in 1956 luxury motoring.

    The 1956 Packard was the first car to offer the Dana “Twin-Traction” rear differential, their new V8 engine was designed so it could be enlarged to about 460 cu in, Plus a new electric push-button transmission selector for the new 3-speed transmission, 2 years before the Edsel “Tele-Touch”. Then there was the new suspension . . .

    The suspension is unlike anything the automobile field has seen, with INTERCONNECTING torsion bars that don’t simply absorb bumps & jolts into the body, but instead transfer the rough ride thru the torsion bars back down to the opposite axle. Available from the Packard Club, there is a 1955 film on CD, of Packards gliding over a series of railroad track crossings in downtown Detroit, and then Cadillac & Lincoln examples attempting the identical crossings at the same speeds, resulting in serious damage to the competition. {IIRC, the oil pan was dented on one, the rear bumper torn off the other.]

    The new Packard changes for 1955 were rushed into production, and there were some serious production problems that were mostly solved by the time the 1956 models rolled off the assembly line. Had Studebaker-Packard been able to secure the funds needed for the all-new 1957 lineup, and had additional time to perfect things like the revolutionary Twin Ultramatic transmission [Packard was the first independent automaker to develop their own fully automatic transmission in 1949, equipped with a lock-up torque converter], I firmly believe they could have lasted for quite a few more years before likely merging with another company, possibly from Europe.

    As the company’s literature said: Let the ride decide.

    Like 6
    • scottymac

      I’ve always wanted to ask a Packard expert, the most significant change to a casual observer between the ’55 and ’56 models is the extended “hood” over the headlights for the ’56. Were the ’56 fenders a new stamping, or was the “hood” a separate part added to the ’55 fenders? Had the chance years ago to buy a solid black ’55 400 needing restoration; would have been a gorgeous car with the chrome wire wheels.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        The senior Packard front fenders are indeed different pressings, the ’55 versions have a ridge along the top, front to back, the ’56 versions do not. The Clipper front fenders are also different due to the parking light locations, but with some welding/fabricating they can be substituted.

        The low production numbers of these cars also resulted in few available extra parts, good used, or NOS. Like most manufacturers in the mid 1950s,

        Packard didn’t use inner fender liners, so dirt & moisture packed up into the headlight areas, and rotted the hell out of the fenders if not kept cleaned out [and who the hell did that?].

        Like 0
  19. Jimmy Novak

    A word on the “redressed Studebaker” 1957-’58 Packards:
    Every multi-make automaker shares/shared parts between its divisions. Seems as though only S-P and AMC are ever called out on it, however.

    Like 3
    • scottymac

      But no one to the extent of General Motors. Chevy Trailblazer; GMC Envoy; Buick Rainier; Oldsmobile Bravada; Isuzu Ascender; SAAB 9-7X, all on the same platform. Poor Pontiac, Saturn, and Cadillac had to do without.

      Like 0
  20. Richard j Martin Member

    The BIG 3 were responsible for everyone else going under.

    Like 1
  21. Terry Earwood Member

    Dad bought our 56 from Downing Motors in downtown Atlanta in 1957. If you’re a road race fan, it was Jim Downings dad and Uncles. Dad lead the 57 Christmas parade in it with Miss Opelika sitting on rear boot. When we moved to Jacksonville in 1959, Dad took a small house, I’m not making this up, in trade to get rid of it. First car I ever rode over 120 in, sadly wasn’t driving, as was only 11. Awesome, huge car!

    Like 2
    • Dave Mazz

      Terry, thanks for sharing those great memories. This car, like your memories need to be preserved and passed on to future generations!

      Like 1
  22. Morley Member

    Never mind the politics. This is a great car. But I have a bigger problem than Castro or Trump. I look at Bring a Trailer and of course Barn Finds. Most of the cars on Barn Find NEED a trailer, But on Bring a Trailer, mos t of the vehicles look show room ready. Go figure. ????????

    Like 3

    Beautiful classic it captures the mood. Would have a lot of patience for this one.

    Like 0
  24. Pilot Jim

    We had a ‘55 and the seats were nothing like that rear seat. The automatic leveling system could be an interesting restoration item too.

    Like 0
  25. TimM

    Everyone kind of said it all about this car!! Impressive horsepower!!! Style, and a convertible to boot!! I really don’t thank no you can go wrong!! Definitely is an impressive car to make your next project!!!

    Like 0
  26. Claudio

    This is a great candidate for a Chip Foose restoration

    I rode in this and a patrician about 2 decades ago and wanted to vomit , land yacht, i hate the rides of these but i cannot deny the importance of packard and studebaker, nevertheless a custom job with a modern driveline and all would be eye candy

    Like 0
  27. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    A quick check with the Packard Club’s Stuart Blond [the keeper of the 1956 Caribbean roster], let me know this specific car, #98, was until today not known to the club. Factory records indicate it was delivered new to Balderson Packard of Canton, Ohio.

    Unless bidding get furious in the next 8 hours, someone’s gonna get a good deal!

    Like 2
  28. scottymac

    During and after high school in the late Sixties and early Seventies, I worked at Amoco and Sohio gas stations on the south side of Canton. Sadly, there were no pictures of license plates or mention when she was last on the road. Who knows, I may have filled up the old girl and washed her windshield a time or two?

    Like 0

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