Sunset Boulevard: 1950 Packard Deluxe Eight Sedan

Looking at this sadly rusting but still recognizable 1950 Packard Deluxe Eight Sedan, I’m reminded of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard thinking she’s ready for her close up at the end of the movie. I can’t really see an economical way that this post war stop gap for Packard will ever end up back on the road. It’s listed for sale here on eBay and is located in Savage, Minnesota.

Like Norma, this Packard was once young and gleaming. Dutch Darrin designed this body originally in 1941, but the middle down area was redesigned for the 1949 and 1950 models as a make shift measure to carry the company on while a new body could be designed for 1951. Unfortunately, those ended up being the last all-new Packards produced.

This car is equipped with the Ultramatic drive, which was the only fully automatic transmission ever developed in the US completely outside of the big three automakers. Amazingly, it had a lock up torque converter for efficiency, something that only really took off many years later. Sadly, the extensive rust the car is showing probably has something to do with that blue tarp you see folded back in this shot. We are told that this is the original paint, so at least there’s no rust hiding–but there’s plenty in plain sight.

As far as the interior goes, the seats are going to be a construction project, unless you go the time-tested Indian blanket route. That would be a shame in a car that could look like this one could, though. The sad thing is, these lower-level post-war Packards simply aren’t worth enough to make a whole lot of sense to restore. It would have to be a labor of love. If you know the plot of Sunset Boulevard, what this car needs is a Max–someone willing to do illogical, self-sacrificing things out of love and devotion.

I’m guessing this is the original 288 cubic inch, 135 horsepower inline eight cylinder engine. The seller tells us it’s free and that it has a new fuel pump, but that the carburetor needs work. They also mention that they are continuing to work on the car with the parts they have, presumably to try to get it running. Is there a Max out there with $3,500 in their pocket for this Norma?

Fast Finds


  1. junkman Member

    There is one of these for sale a couple towns over which is in older resto condition (bubbles on the door bottoms) the guy has been trying to sell for a good 4 months on the side of the road. Not that desirable I guess, when I was younger I would have probably bought it buy now,But I’ll pass.

  2. jw454

    One option would be to paint it a flat army green including all the bright trim, put some big white stars on the hood doors and trunk, and you’d have a Korean war era army staff car.
    I don’t know the post war Packard market but, I’m thinking the cost of a good, complete restoration would push it beyond it’s sale value.

  3. normadesmond

    Max! MAX!!

    He must’ve taken the Isotta Fraschini & split.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Love it! Go Norma!

  4. Howard A Member

    This was a car just like mine.( without the whitewalls) I’m sure many have grown tired of the story every time one of these pops up. I take a bit of offense to the ” lower level, post war Packards”. Packard never made a “lower level” car. Even the cheapest model, ( this car listed for almost $3,000 dollars, when a Ford or Dodge or Chevy, what I consider “lower level” cars, were half that) was still a high quality car. My car sat outside for 30 years, and was better than this. It had 41,000 miles on it. After unsticking the motor, which ran fine after it’s 30 year sleep, the automatic still worked, but was not the best. The 3 speed with O/D ( and electromatic clutch) was a much better setup, but this was one of the 1st cars with a fully automatic. A gutsy buy in 1950, it wasn’t cheap. $494 dollars in 1950, almost $5,000 today!! I can say without reservation, good luck with parts. Mechanical stuff should still be around ( this Kanter in NJ has everything) but body, trim stuff might be tough. I, at one time, had 3 parts cars,( I bought 1 whole car just to get the visor) so I had plenty of spares, but one by one, they got stripped an junked. Few remain. And everything is BIG and HEAVY ( the engine and trans weighs almost 800 lbs. by itself) so be ready for that. Bottom line, even the “cheapie Packard”, while not quite the fancy Packard’s of the 30’s, was still a Packard all the way. I loved my Packard.

    • Howard A Member

      Oh, one more thing, that “Cormorant” hood ornament. I had one from my grandfathers Packard, but I’ve seen them from $150 to $300 bucks at swap meets now.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Howard by lower level I meant that there were more expensive Packards available for sale at the same time, not that the postwar Packards were worse than the prewar ones!

  5. Mountainwoodie

    HoJo lets look at the animal in situ.

    My gods this is painful to look at it as it is the exact model that was a young mans first ride at 16 back in the day. I clearly had issues :)

    So it merits another look at where it all began. Then my Ultramatic was a twenty year old car that I thought was from the Pleistocene era. Somewhere theres a kid today looking at a 1997 Nissan and thinking the same thing. Now thats weird.

  6. Gary


  7. Bob

    It is a pity that Packard, Hudson, Studebaker, and the other manufacturers, went the way of the Dodo bird. They were innovative and made the industry more competitive.

    • Metoo

      Yeah, that’s capitalism for ya. Most caused their own demise.

  8. Howard A Member

    Woodie Man, here’s your car, dude. :)

  9. Miguel

    A friend of mine had one of these. His was a Henny built hearse. It was enormous.

    It was black on the outside with purple mohair interior and hydraulic windows.

    It did have the 3 speed on the tree so I don’t know anything about the automatic.

    It was a chore to drive but if you were on a straight street, it was nice. No power steering of course.

    I love the era of glass tail light lenses.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Miguel, surprisingly, my ’50 Packard, without power steering, was actually very easy to steer. Something I read, about the way the front suspension was designed, it made turning easier, not like PS though, but close.

      • Miguel

        Well I had to park the hearse on a hill for the night so I had to turn the wheel while the car was not moving. That was a challenge. Remember the hearse weighs about 8,000 pounds.

  10. Bill Heptig

    I’m a Packard guy. Sad to see this, this particular body style had a lot to do with the demise in my opinion.

  11. Bill McCoskey

    The carb is not original, and I must say I’ve not seen one with the air intake pointing to the front. I suspect the carb is from an industrial motor of some kind. The air cleaner is also not original. A deluxe 8 would have had an air cleaner that sat directly on top of the carb. What is shown in the photo is a later 1951-54 air cleaner that is missing the silencer part that connected the oil bath tub [seen in the photo] and the carb.

  12. RayRay

    First thing, WOW

    I am the owner of this Packard and I somehow saw this article in my news feed
    I took the ad down because as I kept working on it, something told me to keep it and $3500 is not a lot of $$ plus I may be looking for her on Craigslist in a few yrs so I decided to continue restoring her
    I’ve since, restored the trunk, gutted the interior and seats are going into a shop for re-upholstery

    About the oil bath air cleaner, it’s original I do have the other piece, the Carter carburetor in the picture is not original
    The original is there and needs a rebuilt

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Terrific, RayRay! Keep us informed as you progress!

    • BMW4RunninTundra

      Good on you Ray!!!! Without the “purchase price” and hopefully your mechanical abilities, you can hopefully bring this beauty back to drivable condition and not be upside down!!!! Seeing the “what it can be” pics. It’s actually a nice looking vehicle!!!
      Maybe keep us updated, with pics, as you make progress?!?!?

      • RayRay

        Will sure do:
        Trunk is halfway coated to it’s final paint- machine grey

        Headliner has seen better days so that’s going out

        The floor pans If I want I can get new ones from a company in Michigan and have then replaced or patch the holes on the original

        Motor should be ready to fire once the oil I purchased comes in( Valvoline 10w-30 ZZDP race oil)

        I will get a video of it and post it on YouTube and share the link


    I have a 1950 Packard which is in much better condition. The floor panels were the only rusty areas. I have put new steel in there with some steel braces and additional supports bolted and sealed up so they don’t move down when you put your weight on them. Someone else put a crate 350 and chevy transmission in it. There is a painless wiring kit installed which was not done correctly and I am putting a new one in it’s place. Folks have never seen this car where I live now. Not many Packards in Panama. I bought the car online sight unseen and shipped it here. It is now nearly new inside and needs a new paint job outside. Here I will use it as the wedding car. It is big and difficult to park here and uses some gasoline but it is massive and beautiful. No place to go to get bumpers rechromed. It is set up as a race car and I need to tone it down as I am no racer. I steel and a lack of electronics as a good thing. I am 73 and do not appreciate plastic and fiberglass death traps as an inprovement.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Mr. Blankert,

      May I suggest you join the Packard Club? they can b a lot of help, especially to overseas Packard owners.

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