Stored 40 Years: 1954 Packard Convertible Coupe

This is a rare car, with just over 800 of them being made in the last year for Packard convertibles other than the Caribbean. Strangely enough, this 1954 Packard Convertible Coupe is actually named the Packard Convertible Coupe. It’s not a Patrician, Clipper, Caribbean or any other name, just Convertible Coupe – model/chassis #5431 and body #5479. It can be found here on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $10,000 and there is no reserve beyond that. It’s located in Selmer, Tennessee. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this great tip!

Holy complicated and slightly-overwrought grille, Batman! The chrome bill on the front of this car alone would probably be more than my entire car collection is worth. This Packard really deserves to be nut-and-bolt restored back to original-specs. Restored to the gills, this could easily be a Pebble Beach-type car.

This exact Packard Ivory-colored car was for sale less than a year ago for $6,000 or best offer so either the current owner bought it in order to make a bit of extra money on, which is 100% a-ok in my world, or they realized that it was a $75,000+ restoration project and, given the value of a restored car determined that it wasn’t worth sinking close to six-figures into restoring it. Either way, it has to be worth $10,000 as it sits here. I believe that 1954 was the last year for convertibles at Packard other than the top-of-the-line Caribbean.

This example has been stored for 40 years and it has 81,000 miles on it, according to the seller. Reportedly, there were only 863 of the Convertible Coupe models made for 1954 and there can’t be that many still around. It’s strange to see red inside the trunk, was this originally a red car? Packard didn’t offer red-red in this model for this year, but there was a Matador Maroon Metallic, unless that red color is just an accent color? The back seat looks good but I’m assuming that if this car moves to someone else’s garage and they have the funds available, every single thing will be restored. Power windows and AC would have been options but I don’t think this car has either option.

The Packard Pacific and Packard Cavalier were similar to the Convertible Coupe in design and detailing, but most of us know that when the top goes down on a car, the value goes up, in general. The Pacific and the Convertible Coupe used Packard’s 359 L-head straight-eight with 212 hp. It was a great engine and hopefully this one will be again someday. What’s your best guess on a nut-and-bolt restoration cost for this car? $75,000-$80,000? More?

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Thanks Scotty for the Packard stuff. This car was the last year for this style, and surprisingly enough, had pretty much the same mechanicals as the ’48 featured earlier, Packards downfall. If I may respectfully correct the author, Packards biggest straight 8 was the 356, and I think these had 4 barrels on them, which helped some, but still no match for the GM V8’s. These were classy cars, but considered outdated by mid 50’s standards. 1955 Packard everything changed, and was a revolutionary design with a V8 of it’s own, but it was too late. Packard had already began it’s slide into eternity.

    Like 11
    • HoA Howard AMember

      To clarify, thanks to the author, the straight 8 was punched out to 359 for 1954. I never knew that. I believe they called it the “Thunderbolt” motor. If I remember, the engine size was stamped on the head somewhere.

      Like 8
      • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

        Howard, you’ve forgotten more about Packards than I’ll ever know. I hope this one gets saved.

        Like 7
    • CCFisher

      *Almost* everything changed for 1955. The 1955 body was a very heavily facelifted version of the 1951-1954 “high pockets” design. It was a masterful job, but still limited by the high cowl and beltline from the early 1950s.

      Like 4
      • Andy

        Underneath, though, the torsion bar suspension and clean-sheet V8 for ’55 were huge changes.

        Like 0
  2. 71FXSuperGlide

    Love the early 50’s Packards. Have to wonder “what if” Packard had offered a V8 sooner, or if the merger with Hudson/Nash had gone through, instead of the disastrous Studebaker matchup.

    Would love to see this get restored.

    Like 4
  3. Bob McK

    I went to the Fort Lauderdale Packard Museum yesterday. Most everything there is from the 20’s and 30’s. This car restored would be a beautiful addition to the collection.

    Like 4
  4. Mountainwoodie

    I love to see that Packard script on the glove box. So unique to Packard that it conveys the essence of the brand.

    Too bad it costs so much to restore anything. Sometimes it has to be a labor of love and this might be one

    Like 3
  5. Little_Cars Saul

    Chrome is the one thing this thing does not need to have replaced. All of it is there….and it literally looks like it would “buff out” with very little effort. Not sure the Pebble Beach folks have a class for this one, unless they have Packard as a featured marque. I’ve spotted few postwar Packards on the show field, and never seen any from the mid 50s.

    Like 1
  6. James Haviland

    Might end up in Maine…

    Like 1
  7. egads

    Look’s like the same Packard that was on Barnfind’s last July in Wisconson for $6000.00. Can anyone say flipper, or is it in worse condition than the new owner want’s to take on?

    Like 8
  8. Edd Tony W

    I know the ideal for all these type cars is to restore them down to the last nut & bolt, but allow me to ask: why not just fit a serviceable top on it, get it running well and all safe & such, and driving it as it is? It has earned its stripes, why not respect it for what it has been through and love it, warts & all?

    Like 4
  9. Andy

    Considering $80,000 would be very high for a ’54 Caribbean, I couldn’t see a ground-up resto on a Convertible Coupe making any sense. But as I point out from time to time, there’s still an Earl Scheib in the Bronx…

    Like 2
  10. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Just saw this 4 year old post, and it deserves a couple of comments. First, about that red color in the trunk; someone added the red paint, this car came from the factory as white.

    Second, while the car could be ordered with power windows, it could not be ordered with A/C, as the evaporator unit was located where the top well is on a convertible.

    Third, this engine is an enlarged version of the 1951 to 1953 senior Packard 9-main bearing 327, upped to 359 cubic inches, with the addition of an aluminum high compression cylinder head, all of these changes raised the HP figure to 212.

    Fourth, the designation of “Thunderbolt” applied to all of the Packard straight eight engines, from the standard 8’s 288 and the Super 8’s 327, to the Custom 8 [thru 1950] and the above mentioned senior 9-main 327 staring in 1951. Many people find it interesting that the cylinder heads, while marked with the engine size in large cast letters, are interchangeable, and use the same head gasket.

    The one exception is this 1954 Senior Packard 359. While the regular copper/asbestos head gasket will fit, the dissimilar metals [Copper and Aluminum] will cause problems in the gasket openings for coolant travel. The 1954 359 engine uses an all-steel head gasket, and it’s imperative that the correct gasket be used. This situation is also why many 1954 359 engines were changed to the older 327 or 288 heads. In checking a 1954 Senior Packard, it’s important to check the block serial number to see if it’s still the 359, even if the head suggests otherwise!

    The one photo of this car’s engine is blurry, but it appears to have a cast iron head instead of the aluminum head. The alloy head is easy to spot due to it’s more rounded top edges and corners, as well as a smoother casting surface [see photo]. And of course the raised numbers will tell you what it is; a 288, 327, 356, or 359.

    If the car is to be restored to factory specifications, then one will want to source a good 359 alloy head and steel gasket. That said, if the next owner wants to have a nice running car, but not a show car, then I would suggest sourcing the correct head and gasket for possible future use, while keeping the cast iron head when rebuilding the engine [if needed].

    Like 2

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