Rare Wagon: 1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

“Parts Bin Specials” are common in the automotive world. Companies generally create them out of existing production parts to produce a limited edition or premium version of an existing model. Less common is a manufacturer’s need to utilize this process to create an entirely new model, but that is what Packard did in 1957 with its Clipper models. This strategy proved a matter of necessity, as the company’s bank account hovered in that uncomfortable zone between “very little” and “zilch.” The station wagon version carried the Country Sedan badge, with only 869 examples rolling off the line. Our feature wagon is one of them, and its overall solid nature and complete status make it a prime candidate for a restoration project. Adding to its appeal, its original supercharged V8 engine should offer class-leading performance when it returns to active duty. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, the seller has listed the Clipper for sale here on Craigslist. Potential buyers need only hand the seller $7,000 to take this one away. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Roger for spotting this wonderful wagon for us.

The 1957 Clipper represented an amalgam of parts from both its own warehouse and Studebaker’s. The basic body and frame structure was derived from the Studebaker President but utilized distinctive Packard components, including the front bumper, taillights, wheel covers, and interior trim. Our feature Country Sedan wears its original paint in a combination of Tiara Gold Metallic and Arctic White. The paint sports a matte appearance which is typical for aging paint from this manufacturer, but a repaint would not be a significant undertaking. The panels have accumulated a few dents and marks, but there’s nothing beyond repair. One factor that is always worth considering for any Packard or Studebaker from this era is the presence of rust. That may not be an issue with this Packard. It looks to have spent its life split between California and Nevada, with both states possessing climates conducive to preserving classic steel. The seller doesn’t mention any problems, and there is nothing visible in the supplied photos beyond surface corrosion. Most of the trim is present, although a few pieces may require restoration. The tinted glass looks okay, but the buyer will need to replace the cracked windshield.

If any aspect of this project is likely to prove a challenge to the next owner, that honor could fall to the interior. The seller indicates the car is complete, suggesting items like the door trims could be among the parts sitting in this wagon’s cargo area. The upholstered surfaces are beyond help, and since trim kits aren’t thick on the ground, the buyer may need to use the existing upholstery as templates to create new trim. I’m unsure whether the correct cloth and vinyl are available, but the buyer should find something pretty close if they exercise patience. The most challenging item to reproduce will be the dash pad. These components were the most prone inside a Clipper when exposed to harsh UV rays, and this one shows the typical deterioration. Nobody produces reproduction pads, so the buyer may need to smile nicely at an upholsterer to have one fabricated.  The wheel is cracked, and corrosion is bleeding through. If the buyer can’t locate a replacement, cutting away the cracked sections, treating the rust, and repairing the rim with epoxy could be a viable alternative. The Packard is a luxury car, so it’s no surprise to find this wagon sporting power windows and a power front seat.

If the company had the means to create the 1957 Clipper from a blank sheet of paper utilizing the drivetrain configuration found in this car, they could have been onto a winner. The engine bay houses a 289ci Studebaker V8 complete with a belt-driven McCulloch supercharger designed to pump up to five pounds of boost. Bolted to the V8 was a three-speed Flight-O-Matic transmission, and with 275hp available under the driver’s right foot, this was a fast wagon in its day. It could storm the ¼ mile in 16.6 seconds before winding its way to 113mph. The seller indicates that the Clipper is mechanically complete, but somebody dismantled the motor to check that all was healthy. This process revealed the engine block, crankshaft, and cylinder heads were in good order. The buyer will need to tackle a rebuild, but that should return the V8 to its best.

Given its overall completeness and apparent lack of rust, the asking price on this 1957 Clipper Country Sedan looks pretty competitive. The low production total means that they rarely appear on today’s market. When they do, it isn’t unusual for prices to climb beyond $40,000. If the next owner completes this restoration with a careful eye on spotless originality, the figure could rise close to $60,000. When you factor in the asking price, this project shows promise. However, is that enough to make you consider pursuing it further?

Comments

  1. Will Fox

    The face only a mother could love. These `57-`58 Packard-bakers are the least sought after among collectors, and for good reason. The scarcity of the wagon models is probably the only silver lining here, and so few have survived. But even among Packard fans and owners, these are really nothing more than Studebakers.

    Like 4
    • Rob

      Webster’s:
      UG’LY – def. ‘57-58 Packabakers

      Like 1
  2. Ben T Spanner

    Poor old Packard. In 1958 the same body shell could have been a Studebaker Scotsman; a 2 door sedan with flat head six, and painted bumpers and wheelcovers, or badged as a “Packard” with supercharged V8, and power windows seats etc.
    1958 was even worse with glue on quad headlights. traditional Packard buyers would not touch these. Except for the Packard engine, this could be considered an early Cadillac Cimerron

    Like 4
    • Poppy

      Not even a Packard engine. 1956 model year was the last year for those. Gotta hand it to them for giving it a try. The Packard version had significant trim changes (inside and out) over the comparable Studebaker. It’s just that the traditional Packard features they tried to carry over look out of place on the dowdy Studebaker bodies of the day.

      Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Ben,

      “In 1958 the same body shell could have been a Studebaker Scotsman; a 2 door sedan with flat head six, and painted bumpers and wheelcovers, or badged as a “Packard” with supercharged V8, and power windows seats etc.”

      What about the same situation with the Cimarron, where that little 4 cylinder Cadillac was the same basic car and drive train as a Chevrolet Citation? One of my customers [we were restoring his 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille] came to show off his new small Cadillac, and he happened to park next to another of my customer’s cars — a new Chevy Citation. My other customer who was having work done to his Corvair, pointed out that the cars were basically the same except for fancy trim and a much larger price.

      My Caddy guy had a horrible look come over his face, as he realized it was true. He was a successful wholesale appliance salesman and always drove Cadillacs, but decided to buy the Cimarron for the fuel mileage. Next time I saw him he said “F**k the gas mileage”, ’cause he had traded it back in on a full-size Cadillac!

      Like 1
  3. charlie Member

    And the rear end was so clearly wierd, at the time, (I was 16), that it did not fool very many people – a Studebaker wagon with Packard taillights tacked on. A rear that only a mother could love.

    Like 1
  4. Kurt Member

    I like it just for its quirky looks. You’d be the only one of its kind at the auto show! A friend owns one fully restored but in blue.

    Like 8
  5. Vince H

    Packard collectors don’t want them and neither do Studebaker collectors. The 58 only had 159 built and that did not equate to a high dollar car. I would stay away from this unless you just love them for some unknown reason.

  6. Lou Rugani

    Sometimes frugality is its own reward. The 1957 Packards are one of the cleanest and best-looking designs of that otherwise bloated model year, and a big improvement over their obese predecessors.

    Like 3
    • karl

      Really ? No one , not even Ray Charles would say a 57 Packard had the best looking designs of 1957 , if fact they would likely say they were the worst of 1957 ! Ford and Chryslers 57 cars were sleek and low , while GM still had their popular 55-57 bodies. Studebaker was falling fast in style, and Packards add on trim to an aging body style did nothing for it

  7. Rick

    Those tail fins are lethal. Anyone walking or riding bikes near that car needs to keep an eye on the surroundings in order to avoid getting pierced and bled out.

  8. MikeH

    I was about to criticize Adam for not showing the front of the car, but when I go to the Craigslist ad I see that they, inexplicably, don’t have a picture of the front. The front of these beautiful 57-58 Packardbakers is their best feature. Why would anyone want to hide it?

    Like 2
  9. Mike

    Frumpy car with a comically over the top rear end.

    Like 1
    • Kurt Member

      Mike that sounds like you’re talking about my old girl friend.

      Like 7
  10. Rw

    Straight axle street freak would be badass, just my opinion.

    Like 1
  11. Chris Webster

    No need to extend that rear bumper for continental kit. Packard did the work for you.

    Like 1
  12. chrlsful

    like when tail gait sat over some body wrk.
    A solid tank w/5 dors. Gimmie it w/a straight 8 !
    8^ )

  13. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Still not sure what he is talking about . .

    Anyway, after reading most of the comments here, I almost feel sorry for this poor car.

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