Stored 16 Years: 1955 Packard 400

Easily one of the most elegant and luxurious cars of the second half of the 1950s, this 1955 Packard 400 looks like it could be a good buy. The seller has it listed here on craigslist in Canton, Texas, about an hour east of Dallas. The seller has an incredibly-enticing asking price of $4,500 listed. Let’s check it out.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a Packard that gets to me. Other luxury cars from the 1950s also get to me but we all see those at car shows. Or, we did before a lot of car shows evolved (devolved?) into rat rod and/or restomod shows over the last decade and a half. Even at the big Back to the 50s show at the Minnesota state fairgrounds – one of the biggest shows in the country – the percentage of original or original-spec cars has to be tiny compared to what it was 15 years ago.

The 400, or Four Hundred, was part of Packard’s senior model line of cars and they were only made for the 1955 and 1956 model years. At the time, the company was known as the Studebaker-Packard Corporation and although they were based in South Bend, Indiana, this car was built in Packard’s famous Detroit facility.

The seller tells us that this Packard 400 has just come out of indoor storage where it’s been for the last sixteen years. They say that it has some rust on the inner rocker panels and the floorboards have been patched. The interior was redone before it was put into storage and it looks great in the photos. It’s nice to see a luxury car from this era with power windows. The seats look like they could be a period-correct material but whether it’s authentic Packard material isn’t known, and I’m guessing that it probably doesn’t matter on a $4,500 car.

There are no engine photos but this car should have Packard’s 352 cubic-inch V8 with 260 horsepower. This 400 has new brakes and a new brake master cylinder and a power steering control valve. They say that it has been serviced and tuned up but there’s no word on how it runs. With Hagerty listing a #4 fair condition Packard 400 at $6,300 and a #3 good condition car at $14,800, there’s only one question left: good buy or good-bye?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    It’s a good buy! If it looks as decent in the pictures as in person it’s a whole lot for $4500 which won’t even cover a paint job anymore.

    Like 25
  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Beautiful car for an incredibly affordable price!!! Anyone with a little $$ that appreciates a classy classic will grab this up.

    Like 17
  3. Jay Morgan

    Prices like this will help keep the hobby alive.

    Like 19
  4. Kenneth Carney

    $4500? If I had the cash, it would be mine. Packards of this era looked sharp
    indeed. Add in all the that ’50s gadgetry
    they boasted, and they were unbeatable.
    Except for satellite radio, they had everything you could possibly ever want
    in a fine motorcar. Toss in the rare factor, and you’ve got a real winner. Just thinking about makes me want it
    that much more.

    Like 5
  5. Joe Haska

    What a deal, scars me a little, is it a scam? This car would peg the fun meter, every time you drove it. From the photos it looks like that is all you would have to do.

    Like 5
  6. Steve Clinton

    ‘Ask the man who owns one.’ Or maybe not. The owner describes this as being in ‘fair’ condition.

    Like 3
    • Fred W

      A car that looks incredibly well preserved in the photos described as “fair” by the owner. Rather than a scam listing, has all the hallmarks of the rare “one that got away” listing. Which is why it sold immediately.

      Like 10
  7. David Taylor

    My immediate urge is to offer cash on the barrel. I HAVE THE MONEY!!! But, my second thought is this: 1) No comment on drivability 2) NO pix on rust areas 3) No pix on patched areas. 4) NO pix of trunk interior or other areas susceptible to rot.

    Like 6
  8. David Taylor

    I would like to communicate with seller, but only Ph # listed. No good bc I have severe hearing loss.

    Like 2
  9. Vincent Martinelli

    I think this was phony listing. Now deleted

    Like 6
  10. Arby

    Looks like a Zil?

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Arby,

      The Zil came along in 1958, so I would say the ZIL looks like the Packard.

      Like 3
  11. Dual Jetfire

    55 and 56 Packards have serious quality issues. Search on Packard Norfolk v. Miller for a litany of malfunctions -and the dealer’s denials of them- that made the 55 one of the first lemons in the US.

    Like 2
    • David Taylor

      I bought a used 56 Packard 4 door. Loved it – except for one thing. 4 bolts mounting fan to crank shaft would NOT stay seated and would come out at 60 mph. After 2nd bolt came out, crank shaft warperd and locked up engine.

      Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      Dual Jetfire,

      I’ve owned probably 30 or more V8 Packards, and my brother owns an identical car, except his has the red & black “Orchid cloth” & leather interior.

      I ran a restoration shop for 30 years, specializing in Packards. I’ve worked on many of them and I’m considered by many people who know me as a Packard “expert”.

      Now about the case you refer to. I’ve done research into this one, and here’s my take on it;

      Yes, the new 1955 Packard was rushed into production, and it had a few problems. The 2 big ones were body fit quality, and an internal engine problem. That problem was a design flaw in the combination vacuum pump and engine oil pump. A shaft seal between the vacuum pump and the oil pump allowed small amounts of air to enter into the oil pump side. Under high speed, the hydraulic valve lifters would be starved of oil, creating plenty of noise, and of course because the lifters were not actuating the valves correctly, the engine would run rough.

      I’m 99% sure this was what Doctor Miller’s Packard was experiencing, and as a VERY early production car, Packard didn’t yet know what was wrong, as only a few cars had the problem at that time, and dealer reports didn’t yet signal a production problem.

      The dealer [and also the Packard factory] were remiss in not properly handling the customer, and the court’s decision was correct. But this case is not even close to what V8 Packard owners said about their new car. These early problems were quickly fixed.

      That said, in the few years after the Detroit V8 Packards were no longer in production, the new “Twin-Ultramatic” transmission began to get a reputation as an unreliable gearbox. However by the 1960s, the problems were mostly solved. Had the Detroit Packard Company continued building the transmission, the general opinion is that the transmission would become very reliable.

      That one court case you present is not even close to describing what the new 1955 Packard represented to the buying public. It’s been noted that the good Doctor White also complained about his 2 earlier Packards, yet he still bought his third. It’s a distinct possibility that Dr. Miller was the type of customer who would prove very difficult to please, no matter what brand of car he bought.

      Like 11
  12. Wes

    Packard 400 was my first car, back in 1966. Great car, solid built, I drove it year around for 2 years, never a problem. Has the automatic load leveling suspension as an option, and mine still worked ! Sold the car to a house painter, who favored the big trunk, to carry his paints and brushes.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      David Taylor,

      I think you are talking about the fan to water pump bolts that hold the fan and fan belts in place. I’ve worked on dozens of Packard V8 cars, and I’ve never heard about this specific problem. Those 4 bolts are supposed to have lock washers, and the washers should be replaced if the bolts are not staying tight.

      The crank bully and harmonic balancer is held onto the front of the crank by a single large bolt [1.5″ bolt if memory is correct].

      Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      Wes,

      The torsion level suspension was standard on all Packard and Clipper models except for the 1955 Clipper Deluxe, but the standard coil/leaf spring suspension was eliminated 100% for 1956, as very few customers bought the base line Clipper Deluxe.

      Like 2
  13. Jeff

    That was a steal of a deal!

    Like 3
  14. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Saw this as well the other night and yes thought it was a deal….heck if he bought it for $2500 he would be making a sweet $2000…..my kind of flipper !

  15. STEVE

    drive this girl to town in 2020……no one would have a clue what it is!!!!!!

  16. HC

    Lovely Packard but that price cant be correct. $4500?? Packards were cars driven by guys who wore sensible shoes.

    Like 1
  17. Phlathead Phil

    MTL a scam. I’ve seen this kinda thing before. The scammer is trying to get your banking info.

  18. HC

    Yeah knew this was some sort of scam. A Packard like that for only $4500 had to be too good to be true

  19. Kenn

    What proof Phlathead Phil? Why not just an honest seller that needs money quickly and doesn’t enjoy negotiating. Just as an aside Phil, “It takes one to know one.” What have you sold? Listed for sale?

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