Parked 40 Years Ago: 1954 Packard Caribbean

Seeing this Packard Caribbean in this rough of condition really hurts. With just 400 built in 1954, it’s actually the rarest of the Caribbeans, but even if it were the most common of years it would still be a rare and desirable car. The seller claims this one has been parked for the past 40 or so years and it looks it! It also looks like it’s been in a fight or two, with some damage to the front end. Hopefully, it isn’t beyond saving, but with an opening price of $4,500 and no reserve it seems like it would be worth a closer look. You can find it here on eBay in Roselle, Illinois.

The Caribbean was about as luxurious a vehicle as you could get in the early 1950s. And all that convertible luxury came with a hefty price-tag. Throughout the production run, they were on average $2k more than a comparable Cadillac convertible, which certainly didn’t help sales. The upside of being rare and high priced is that today, these Packards are quite sought after and considered to be a significant example of postwar American design.

Under the hood is a big Packard straight-eight. It’s a 359 cui engine to be exact and was good for 212 horsepower. Things look to be fairly clean under the hood, but it’s hard to say what all the engine is going to need. At least it’s complete!

Getting this Caribbean back on the road is going to be a huge challenge, but it’s rare enough that it would be worth restoring. At the very least, someone could get it back on the road. So what do you think of this Packard? Would you take it on or is it too rough?

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Comments

  1. Ikey Heyman

    I’m going to put on my nitpicker hat for a moment, Josh – the rarest Caribbean convertible would be the 1956 with 276 built along with 263 hardtop coupes. Yes, for the final year of “real” Packards, they offered a Caribbean coupe model. Both ran a 374 c.i. V-8 with twin Rochester 4 bbls.

    Like 8
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      Technically, if you are just counting the convertibles that year, then yes 1956 is the rarest, but I’m looking at overall production of Caribbeans.

      Either way, they didn’t build very many and I really hope someone does something with this one before it’s too late!

      Like 5
      • Ikey Heyman

        I hope so too. My price guide says a #1 condition is worth $100K, with this car I think getting it to “driver” status is a more realistic goal.

        Like 6
    • Little_Cars

      I thought you were going to nitpick his use of the phrase “which certainly didn’t help sells.” Just busting your chops, Josh. Nice write up!

  2. CJinSD

    Who bought this in 1954 instead of a Chrysler New Yorker deluxe convertible with a 331 ci hemi? Chrysler quality was unimpeachable until 1957, and the specs were epochs apart. Personally, I think the Caribbeans from closer to the end of production are more appealing, since this one feels like Depression-era mechanicals in a shoe-box body.

    Like 2
    • A.J.

      Why this over the Chrysler? Easy: styling.

      I prefer the 53 styling over the 54, but the 54 has the nine main 359 engine.

      I don’t even know what a 54 Chrysler looks like and I can conjure almost any car up in my head.

      Like 5
      • CJinSD

        http://davidsclassiccars.com/chrysler/6565-1954-chrysler-new-yorker-deluxe-convertible.html

        Personally, I don’t think the Packard comes close in styling even though the 1954 Chrysler was soon to be surpassed by the next several Chryslers. As curiosities today, the Packard does just fine, but its easy to see why Chrysler made it half a century longer than Packard before going bankrupt.

        Like 1
      • scottymac

        Help me out, CJinSD. Are you talking about the first, the second, or third time Chrysler went bankrupt?

        Like 2
  3. JOHN Member

    Pretty cool car, and it looks downright “cherry” compared to some of the stuff we have seen here lately!

    Like 5
  4. Dovi65

    I do hope this fine Packard finds a good forever home. This diamond in the rough seems to be solid, & reasonably complete. It wont be a cheap rehab, but it sure will be a worthwhile endeavor. $4500 isn’t a bad price

    Like 3
  5. Pete Phillips

    Chrysler still had the “three-boxes” styling in 1954. Granted, Chrysler was way ahead of Packard in the engine department in ’54. Don’t get me wrong–I love ’54 Chryslers and would love to own one, but much has been written about their stodgy styling from 1949-1954, thanks to K.T. Keller’s penchant for “chair-high” seats and his dictate that a man should be able to wear his top hat inside the car.

    Like 3
  6. Little_Cars

    I can’t believe Chrysler is even bring brought up in this conversation. For 54, the average Packard buyer was looking for luxury with a familiar powertrain under the hood. Not many newbies were gravitating toward buying a Packard hence the rapid decline in less than four years. To me, that photo of the Chrysler looks like rehashed 40’s styling cues with a bullnose hood, and a grille trying to emulate Cadillac from 7-8 years earlier. This Packard tops everything that year with the exception of maybe the Buick Skylark or Kaiser Dragon.

    Didn’t Chrysler in these years tout window cranks that could raise or lower a window in three revolutions? THAT was forward-thinking!

    Like 2
  7. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Am I the only one surprised to see not only a six, but a flathead Sixinstead of an 8?

    Always liked the lines, but always thought a mild V8 was the base engine?

    • A.J.

      It is a 9 main 359 cubic inch straight eight. 212 HP.

      Like 2
  8. WayneC Member

    Why is it that I keep seeing that either Packard or Studebaker-Packard Corp., or the Studebaker Corporation went bankrupt. They didn’t go bankrupt. Packard bought Studebaker and found more debt and financial woes than they knew about. After the Packard name was dropped and just called themselves the Studebaker Corporation, Studebaker management decided to stop producing cars and trucks. They were still a very big company and did what many corporations do when they have a division that is losing money, they get rid of it. Bankrupt? They came close when cars and trucks were all they made. When the automotive division stopped making cars in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, they were actually making a profit. The other divisions just happened to make more profit, a lot more. The management and stockholders wanted that division gone so they could make more money and they didn’t want to take a chance of losing any.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      WayneC,

      THANKS for mentioning some of the reasons for Packard’s demise. For those “Barn Fiends” who are not familiar with the S-P situation in detail, a major consideration was a lack of funding for the new proposed 1957 car lines, incorporating all 3 car lines into a single basic design, with multiple trim & wheelbase possibilities. [Studebaker at the lower end, Clipper in the middle range, and Packard in the high dollar range.]

      Problem was, the typical source of design and tooling funds was obtained from the various large insurance companies, flush with record cash reserves. The funding sources saw how badly the Studebaker division was losing money, and denied the funding.

      The huge defense contractor Curtiss-Wright ended up buying up control in S-P, bleeding it dry to get the huge Packard government defense contracts.

      As they say, the rest is history . . .

      Like 1
      • WayneC Member

        Thanks Bill for filling in some other blanks. Yes, Curtis-Wright was a wolf in sheep’s clothing who h in my opinion did more to kill the Studebaker Automotive division and Packard than anything in my opinion.

  9. Andrew Franks

    I have been an enthusiast of this car and am negotiating on a 1953. It’s the best looking of the bunch as far as I’m concerned.
    I hope this goes to some one who has affection for this model and saves it. It deserves it and the new owner deserves the joy.

    Like 2
  10. Stewart

    Totally agree Andrew, hope the new owner enjoys this beautiful car.

    Like 1
  11. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Great car -hope it gets back on the road……

    Dang some of you guys just post anything further from the truth – kinda why I come here is to get laughs !

  12. Mountainwoodie

    Man, even the script on the glove box is rusted! WTH! I try to be positive when I express an opinion, which like certain body parts everyone has, but come on!

    Rare or less rare , this is the proverbial money pit. Of course most of you guys have money to burn, but when you’re done you’re gonna need electric heat!

    • cosmolene

      Owner used cosmolene to preserve the metal,so no rust .

  13. Little_Cars

    Same seller on eBay as the 55 Caribbean from earlier in the week. Seller also has a 49 Buick Super convertible “preserved” in cosmoline. All well priced classics…perhaps more to come as there are lots of vintage cars in the background.

  14. Del

    I like this one.

    It can probably run again without much hassle

  15. Hotroddaddy

    Love the car. If I had the time, money and inclination I would offer them 6,000.00 then put $50,000.00 into a concourse quality restoration then take it to B-J or Mecum.

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