Live Auctions

Paradise Awaits: 1953 Packard Caribbean

With a name that inspires images of “paradise” this 1953 Packard Caribbean convertible is a Barn Find that was discovered in California. With the beautiful mountain views in the background, this Packard still resides in a form of paradise. Despite the lack of a convertible top, this old drop top is more solid than it appears. 1953 was the first year model for the Caribbean, with only 750 cars being produced. With 5 days remaining, bidding has reached $4,150 with the reserve not met. Find it here on ebay out of Santa Paula, California.

Dry, dusty, and perhaps a little rusty, this 327 cubic inch L head Thunderbolt engine appears complete. Thankfully this 180 horsepower engine still turns over, but does not start. After a long nap, surely a tune up, fresh fluids, and some tinkering will get this motor humming once more. There are no real details offered about this convertible, but the drivetrain is claimed as being original to the vehicle.

Although the convertible top is merely a frame at this point, the interior is not nearly as trashed as you may have expected. The seats are mostly there, with a fair amount of original leather present although it is dried, withered, and chewed up. The dash, gauges, and steering wheel look nice in Gulf Green Metallic. The interior is going to need to be restored, but all of the specific interior hardware and trim looks to be present, so that saves some headache in finding parts.

The 1953 models are quite distinctive as they have round rear wheel arches. I am partial to the round arches, as in 54 they were squared off, and a two tone paint scheme with trim was executed. Although there is some surface rust present on this Packard, the body looks very solid and rot free. The bottom of the passenger side door looks a little crispy, but the rest of the lower body looks decent. There is one photo showing some rust in what I would assume to be the floor. That rust doesn’t appear to have any holes, and looks superficial. If that is the worst of the rust in the floors, than this Packard should be easy to deal with. Examining the images closely shows that this is a factory Ivory car, with the Gulf Green Metallic interior. A beautiful combination which will show nicely upon being restored. Values on these Caribbeans can reach 6 digit figures for the “right” example. What do you think this example is worth?




  1. Howard A Member

    Mountains? You mean those bumpy things through the haze? ( sorry, in N. Wis. you can see for miles, but that’s about it, you don’t have to shovel smog, snowstorm coming tomorrow, ugh) Kidding, my kids live in L.A., and they say air quality has really improved, mostly because we don’t drive cars like this anymore. Hard to believe, this was the “flagship” for Packard in ’53. Even if it had a V8, like most of the competition, it was still a horribly outdated design, (at $5,000 dollars new, a V8 Olds was probably half the cost) and I see many features my ’50 had, and that car had features from pre-war cars. Would anybody else be nervous with that convertible top motor ( fixed to the firewall) and the gas fumes these cars generated under the hood, might be a hazard?( do you smell gas? IDK, let’s put the top down,,,) Still, for what it is, be a wonderful car to restore, if you’ve got the Shillings, that is. Ain’t gonna be cheap. When showing it though, be ready for the comment,,,”What’s a Packard?”

  2. Fred W.

    Quite a project, but I like the box full of NOS oil filters in the trunk!

  3. doug6423

    Another good candidate for restomod! This thing would be beautiful with custom pearl paint and big Dayton wire wheels underneath it.

    • Matt


  4. newport pagnell

    Can you surf BarnFinds in Havana?

    • Howard A Member

      Hi newport, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be available in Illinois. :)
      Seriously, unless your current government forbids it for some reason, this a world wide deal.

  5. Dave Wright

    I am high bidder and assure you if it comes to Idaho it will not be a resto mod. These are magnificent cars. It looks like all the bits and pieces are there. It will look great with my 1966 Imperial convertible and other members of my hoard.

    • PaulG

      Good luck Dave, and please keep us posted…Sounds like you’re going to do it justice!

    • Josh Staff

      If you win it Dave, let us know!

    • OA5599

      Go Dave, get this beauty!

      I Hope you have a Caribbean summer!

    • Greg Thueson

      Hey Dave,

      I live in Idaho and I have 63 Imperial Convertible and a 54 Buick Roadmaster project I need to finish first…or I might be the high bidder…
      Beautiful possibilities and I wish I had room, time and $ for another project….

      Greg T

      Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Dave – check the VIN plate, the serial number listed in the auction is 2662,and that’s for a ’53 Clipper Deluxe sedan. Should be a 2678 for Caribbean. [2679 for regular convertible] And the other numbers are suspect too.

      • A.J.

        It is very hard to fake a 53 Caribbean and it makes zero sense to do so. That car looks right as rain to me.
        For comparisons sake, we sold a running driving 53 that we had owned for 30 years in better shape than this one for 24k back in 2005. I would guess this is probably worth around 20k.

      • Howard A Member

        I saw that too, Bill.

      • Adam T45 Staff

        I’ve just looked at both the plate in the photo, and the numbers in the advertisement. There’s two sets of four digits. They are: 2678 2662. I think that it’s right. 2678 would refer to the model, so that seems to line up. Having said that, I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

  6. Chris

    I still consider the 53 Caribbean to be one of the best looking cars ever made. The two tone convertibles are amazing. The 54s changed enough that they are not quite as pretty. I am seeing the market soften for these, there were two 54s at Barrett Jackson this year that went for 50-60k, I think sadly the buying community for these is slowly passing away and hurting the value. I still hope to own one someday.

  7. nessy

    The 53 Caribbean was to compete with the new 53 Oldsmobile Fiesta, the Buick Skylark and the Cadillac Eldorado. These 4 cars were the finest convertibles you could buy in 53. All very costly. It looks rough, however, I am surprised the current bid is only around 5000. This is a 100k car restored.

  8. David Frank David F Member

    It would be really nice restored. (This beauty belongs to a friend at the museum)

  9. David Frank David F Member

    Try again

  10. David Frank David F Member

    Sorry about that, it’s just a 2MB jpeg, but…

  11. Mark S

    I can tell you right now it’s going to need a floor. Dave I hope you win this auction from what I know of you your the right guy for the job of restoring it. If you win the bid it would be interesting to see pictures of the process. Good luck Dave in your bid to win this car.

  12. Ian

    Not a big fan of 50s Domestic cars, but this is interesting. Could see it finished in aqua blue or coral.

  13. Trickie Dickie Member

    Nothing finer than a good running Packard Straight Eight. And the exhaust note is like music to a car lover’s ears.

  14. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Really think these looked more like a “custom” than it’s competition… and go Dave……Cali black plates can’t be all bad !

  15. Joe Muzy

    Good luck Dave. I restore Studebaker ‘s but a couple of guys in the Studebaker club has a couple of Packards. We’ll built cars but the parts can be pricey. It will be a beauty when you’re done

  16. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Dave [and anyone that’s interested] — I did some checking in my Packard information files, and I suspect he’s got the wrong title to the car. The title number he lists [as I said earlier] the first 4 numbers corresponding to a ’53 Clipper deluxe sedan. Then there is a letter K, and 6 numbers; 423043.

    In 1952 the engine serial numbers for the Packard 250 and 300 cars started with the letter K, followed by 6 numbers, between 400000 and 424420. I’m betting that the car that belongs to the title was sold in one of the states that used the engine number as the serial number on the title. Sometime in the past, when the car wasn’t worth as much, they switched the engine and the title to go along with it. If it’s the correct original VIN plate on the driver’s door post, it will not match the title. I’m sure that original VIN plate will start with 2678, not 2662.

    I have asked the owner to check & see what the VIN plate numbers are.

  17. A.J.

    Bill, good catch and you may be right. Car is definitely real but hopefully there are not title issues that complicate things for someone.

  18. Joe Muzy

    Real good catch. I had one that took a year and some big bucks to straighten out.

  19. Jay M

    This would be very enjoyable to restore and worth every penny.
    It is a beautiful, timeless design. And you won’t see 20 others just like it at your next car show…

  20. Doug

    I sold mine 6 years ago and it wound up at Barrett Jackson.
    Had wrong 288 engine but a strong #3. $55k

  21. Blake Thornton

    My dad was high bidder on this car… it now rests in our shop waiting to find the right person to make it a driver, rather than a concourse restoration he wants one that he’s not afraid to run daily errands with. I just read all the comments about the title and am a little worried about that I will have to do some further investigation.

    If anyone has anything else to add to the story of this car, or they want to chat about anything relating to it we can be reached via our car lot website Centsible Auto Sales in Kalispell, MT

    • Doug

      What’s the price now ?

      • Blake Thornton

        It’s not exactly for sale… he just told me that if someone offered 21K (our current cost on it) he’d let it go. But honestly it’s a bucket-list car for him and he’s not in any hurry to find it a new home.

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