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Sailing Through The 50’s: 1955 Packard Clipper


As I recently shared here, I really like 1955-56 Packards. This Clipper isn’t as fancy a model as the Patrician we featured, but it is a two-door with a nice solid body. It’s located in Santa Rosa, California and is for sale here on eBay with a buy-it-now of only $2,000. The seller is even inviting offers below that! The car has a very distinctive two-tone design defined by the trim strips that doesn’t remind me of any other car, although this one has been painted essentially the same color throughout.


The grille and bumper look pretty nice, and I don’t think the front has ever been hit. The chrome certainly looks good enough for a driver in the pictures. This seems like a pretty good deal on the surface, doesn’t it?


The seller tells us that the rear fender was replaced by a high school auto body shop. Based on the colors, it looks like the trunk lid was replaced from the same car, and possibly even the rear valence. Although the repair will take some work to smooth it out, it does look like they did a reasonable job of aligning the panels. I’m guessing that the replacement was necessary due to collision damage.


Although the dashboard looks quite nice, the seats are going to need some help. What’s there is enough that a good upholsterer can use them for patterns though. I love the dash on these old Packards! The seller is claiming just over 32,000 miles, which I suppose is possible. What do you think?


Looking at this picture I can’t believe there’s only 32,000 miles. The ad mentions that the engine turns over and has good compression. The seller does say that all the auxiliary engine parts come with the car, as well as all the body trim that isn’t in the pictures. It sure looks like it would fire up with a little bit of effort. This seems like a really solid car to me, especially for the price–I’d love to make it sail again!


  1. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    I swear, I think people from California must think everybody is stupid, except them. Claiming 32,000 miles, when the the speedo ( and maintenance records) clearly shows 49,000, and I’m sure that’s been around once. ( or disconnected at some point) This car, by all accounts, should have been the car that saved Packard. It had everything ( except proper management) to keep the company going. Going to be tough to find parts, as not many around. It should be saved to show the automotive world what Packard was capable of, and not the rebadged Studebakers in it’s last year. Great find.

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    • Avatar photo Ed P

      Packard should have merged with Nash in the late 40’s when George Mason made the offer. That would have given them better economy of scale. However, Packard management was not as forward thinking as Mason. Packard’s automatic was designed like a Dynaflow, and was just as inefficient. They should have not wasted the money to design the Ultramatic and just bought Hydramatics like Nash and others did. Don’t forget their failure of a pushbutton shifter. The owners of those cars never will. Their V8 failed due to wont of a serviceable oil pump. That problem was never fixed in Packard’s lifetime and was one of the last nails in their coffin.

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  2. Avatar photo RON

    These were beautiful cars and I do like to see them on the road. I do disagree as as to the quality that Packard had been in the past The 352 engine and the Ultramatic of this time was pretty much a disaster. The engines didn’t hold up very well were too heavy and it was not the old transmission and even those ultramatics were some what flaky. I agree everything else was great for the day. Studebaker made the mistake with putting this engine in the first golden hawk andit was a total failure. The next year 289 Studebaker engine was a totally superior engine to the Packard. It did have beautiful lines andinteriors and even though they were flay as well the air bag system was a nice touch, just early in the game

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  3. Avatar photo Brad

    Pretty darn cool, and having the only one in a sea of fuzzy diced Fords and Chevys only makes it more fun.

    You can just imagine this 2-tone layout sitting in the driveway of a matching split-level ranch house in the suburbs, both having a similar visual slope. The chrome trim around the rear wheel well is inspired.

    Here’s a ’55 Clipper Super Constellation, all cleaned up.

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    • Avatar photo MacVaugh

      What is the difference between this one and the Clipper Panama? I recall the Panama was the hardtop.

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  4. Avatar photo AMCFAN

    The money seems right but yes the quality was a serious issue at this time. Not only Automatic transmissions but read somewhere once rear axles were a problem as well. Sadly to restore this car back to OEM will be quite a feat in itself. Better have access to a time machine for parts or cash in that 401K.
    These would have had a better survival rate and quite possibly more interest today if you could get a standard shift. Simply there would be more on the road.
    I had a 55 Clipper for a very short time once and it had the standard shift. Three speed on the column. The Packard V8 has an unmistakable powerful sound. They are very smooth. For a big car it felt like it had plenty of power. I was made an offer on it that I couldn’t refuse. I really liked the car. Since have looked around off and on for the last several years and didn’t notice how rare a manual transmission is. It was offered on the lower priced Clipper. I do not believe it was offered on any of the Senior cars as Packard engineers felt you shouldn’t have anything in your new Packard that was manual. The order of the day was power. Very distinctive is the Tri Tone Paint. Still a beautiful car if restored.

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  5. Avatar photo Wayne

    The black and yellow one is stunning.

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