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Packard Poseur? 1956 Clipper Super Panama

081116 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Clipper Super - 1

This big, blue beauty is a 1956 Clipper Super Panama and it’s on eBay with a bid of $4,745. I’m not sure what the significance of that bid amount is, but it must mean something to someone. This car is located in Livonia, Michigan and there are four days left on the auction. There is an $8,000 Buy It Now price for this Packard, or, I mean, for this Clipper..

081116 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Clipper Super - 3

What a car! I know that most folks here would much rather have a ’56 Chevy but give me this ’56 Clipper any day, for probably less than half the price, and I’ll have enough left over to add on another garage stall for it. There is some rust on this car as you can barely see in the rockers, and maybe elsewhere, so be prepared for some welding. The Clipper has an interesting history, especially this last iteration of the model. Packard was hoping to introduce the Clipper as its own make in order to target the mid-range market which they thought was diluting Packard’s luxury name. But, Packard dealers didn’t like that idea, so the company introduced the Clipper as an entry-level model to replace the 200 series. But, in 1956 the Clipper became an independent make within Studebaker-Packard.

081116 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Clipper Super - 2

The saga continues. Dealers were getting flack from customers who wanted the Packard name attached (literally) to their Clippers and the company didn’t want do to that at first since they were determined to keep the brand’s luxury aura alive. But, when dealers started jumping ship to open Mercury franchises the company had no choice but to bring the Clipper back into the Packard family and actually call it a Packard. I wonder if Ford/Lincoln had similar trouble with the Continental II, or if Chrysler had that trouble with the Imperial?

081116 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Clipper Super - 4

There isn’t much info given on this particular car, but it sure looks fantastic. It’s being sold by a company called Complete Auto Restorations so I’m assuming that it’s had at least some work done to it. These two-door hardtops were sure beautiful cars. The seller talks about the transmission and suspension: “The transmission is a Packard Ultramatic, 2 speed Automatic. It is also equipped with Packard’s Torsion Level Ride. Torsion Level Ride was an advanced system that would automatically level the car’s suspension based on the type of terrain or load the vehicle was experiencing.”

081116 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Clipper Super - 5

This is a beautiful car, isn’t it? The engine compartment looks nice and with a little cleaning and detailing it would look like new. This is a 352 cubic inch V8 and it’s good for 240 hp. The seller doesn’t give much information about this particular car, but they say that it “runs and drives great, and will keep up with the flow of traffic effortlessly.” I can imagine that this is like riding on a magic carpet. What do you think about this Clipper? With a little body work it looks like you’ll have a show-stopper here. Is this one worth $8,000 given it’s unusual status as a one-year-only model?


  1. Howard A Member

    Thanks Scotty for the Packard story. When I see these cars, I always get a little “verklempt”. By all rights, this was the car that should have saved Packard. By now, most people here know Packard was in our family for years ( sadly, not lately) My grandfather bought a brand new Packard in 1948 and I had a 1950 for 30 years.( sold it in 2010) They were wonderful cars. As Scotty sez, the handwriting was on the wall for Packard in ’56, and this beautiful car fell on deaf ears. Not many were sold, which makes this car all that more important. I only hope someone gets this ( and doesn’t flip it) and shows it off as a tribute to one of the greatest cars of all time,,,,snif.

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    • Scotty Staff

      This car begs for an independant inspection company to check it out for $250, but it sure looks like a good deal to me. This one has Howard written all over it!

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    • DON

      This Packard looks like a 1955 Packard my friends, a 1956 had a bigger eye brow over head light. other then that is looks fine..

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      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        The difference between a ’55 and a ’56 Clipper front fender is not the “brow” getting extended, that happened with the senior cars only: Patrician sedan, 400 hardtop, and both Caribbeans; hardtop & convertible. Also the Executive model, introduced mid year to help lessen the differences between the Packard line and the Clipper line

        But the difference between the ’55 & ’56 Clippers is very subtle. The top of all the ’55 Packards & Clippers was rounded and the top of the fenders on the ’56 had a slight ridge from near the front, to near the back. The other difference is also the area where the parking light is located, however this is not visible until all the surrounding trim is removed.

        So for the 2 model years, the company made 4 different fenders, giving us 8 different front fenders.

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  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Hmmm…”complete” auto? Incomplete description, incomplete photos, and incomplete detailing all add up to incomplete effort. Only seven of the 12 free photos were used.

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  3. Fred w.

    Looks like “Complete Auto” is doing a quick flip rather than restoring. Which is good because had they fixed the rockers, they could have sold this for considerably more. Here you know what you are getting- an older restore with a bit of rust to fix. If no more rust than visible, this one, being a 2 door HT, is quite a deal at the 8K BIN. I predict someone hits that button.

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    • DrinkinGasoline

      Yep, because who knows “how” they would have fixed the rust.
      “Let sleeping dogs lie”.

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Fred – In looking at the interior photo, I suspect this may be an original car. If so, it’s a great deal!

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  4. Ken Nelson Member

    Scotty, how the heck can you see rust on the rockers with the way the dark lower color blends with the shadow? I sure can’t see a thing – But then any shop that can’t arrange junk in the trunk neatly and do a 1 minute vacuum of it, or blow the dust off the air cleaner & engine compartment, not mention the total lack of detail, doesn’t seem to have its collective heads screwed on right, demanding a down on the knees checkover of this beauty. Too bad I’m in Ca. now – I’m close to the shop when I’m in Mi.

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    • Scotty Staff

      Ken, if you zoom in (hold down the control button and use your scroll wheel, if you’re using a keyboard/mouse) you can see some rust in front of the RR wheel and on the bottom of the door, bubbling a bit. Hopefully it won’t be a deal-breaker for anyone thinking of bidding on this one.

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  5. BillB

    It’s definitely a flip and they apparently don’t see the return on doing any repairs. Even with the rust hole it’s a great car, even for $8K.

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  6. Ken Nelson Member

    Thanks for the tip Scotty – but even with that multiple blowup, I’m afraid this shot is in the color spectrum where I’m partially colorblind, as nothing shows up! Learned that when I flunked the Navy’s OCS test – couldn’t tell a port light from starboard!

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    • Scotty G

      It’s hard to see, Mr. Nelson, no question about it. And, thank you for your service, sir.

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  7. DrinkinGasoline

    Everyday, I pass through the old Packard building on Carnegie Ave. at East 93rd St. in Cleveland,Oh. which is now part of The Cleveland Clinic. I try to imagine what it was like when those beautiful Packards were sitting in the showroom. This one deserves to be preserved.

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  8. Michael

    If I remember correctly, those torsion bars ran from the front suspension all the way to the back suspension, using no springs.

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  9. scottymac

    This old girl is rough. The first picture, the right front 3/4 view, is that cracked bondo with rust starting through on TOP of the fender? In the same picture, if you look at the reflection of the expansion crack in the cement, you can see how wavy the door surface is. I’ll bet the whole bottom foot of the car is mud. Didn’t realize the ’56 Clipper used fenders from the ’55 senior cars. Still regret walking away from an all black ’56 400 restoration project years ago. I couldn’t afford the plating bill for one of these queens anyway.

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  10. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Studebaker had bought Packard by then….so not sure about asking them…..Stude shouldn’t have…..and just let them die….

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  11. John Taggart Member

    I the old Packards Like the Studebakers I wish they would have made it through todays production as they were innovative then imagine what they would be now. My grandfather was a Kaiser Frazier dealer and we got a Frazier from the estate when he died (I was like 5 or so) what a vehicle as I remember way back then the back seat would fold to allow full entry to the trunk sure wish I could have had that buggy today

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  12. kenzo

    Nice car. The pass side lower rust looks like it is growing. Wonder how much more is behind it? The pass side front fender is missing trim and interesting rust on the fender as well. Not being picky but there seems to be a lot of oil cans in the trunk. Maybe an indication of quarts per mile instead gallons per mile.
    still a nice car though. Clean it up and if it doesn’t burn oil go to show and shine and cars and coffee until you have enough saved to remove all the rust.

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