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First of the Last: 1956 Packard Caribbean #1001

061816 Barn Finds - 1956 Packard Caribbean - 1

This is one rare car, literally #1! It’s a 1956 Packard Caribbean Convertible #1001 and it’s in Syosset, New York and can be found on eBay with a current bid price of just over $10,000, but the reserve isn’t met. This could be a very collectible, desirable car, even more so than a regular ’56 Packard Caribbean Convertible would be. This car is, or was, Naples Orange; even the color sounds exotic and tropical.

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The seller says that this is the first Packard Caribbean Convertible made in the last year that Packards were built in Detroit, and there’s a photo to prove it. The seller has a note on the auction listing: “(relisted with more info)”, but unfortunately they only show two exterior photos and there isn’t one engine photo! For such a rare car, one that they say fully “restored this car fetches over $300k”, I simply can not believe the small number of photos and the quality (mostly, the small size) of the photos. Sellers: if you have a car that you’re trying to sell, one that will be viewed online rather than in person, please provide good photos. And especially if it’s a rare car, like this one, a car that you probably expect will fetch six figures, please, for the love of Mike, go to a store and buy a digital camera and then pay whatever fees eBay charges to at least have the photos enlarge to a bigger size so potential buyers can see what they’re getting. But, there I go again, sorry. I’m sure that there’s a good reason why there aren’t any decent photos of this car.

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Talk about a great interior! Or, it will be when it’s restored. This entire car will need a total nut and bolt, frame-off restoration. No worries what so ever if you’re looking at $300,000 when you’re done. I wouldn’t blink to spend $100,000 on this car and another $100,000 on a full restoration if the $300,000 figure was even remotely possible, we all would. Unfortunately, Hagerty lists a drop-dead perfect, #1 Concours, absolutely-flawless jewel box of a ’56 Caribbean Convertible at $53,900. Of course, that number is meaningless at an auction or with special cars such as this one is. I always wonder why someone would sell something like this instead of spending that $100,000 in restoration costs themselves and then pull in the huge profits if they say that it’ll sell for $300k?

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Packard sure put out a great-looking car with the Caribbean. 1956 was the only year that Packard offered a hardtop version of the Caribbean and they made 263 of those so they’re even more rare, and it would seem more valuable. But, as we know, the price goes up when the top goes down, in general. These cars were powerful and luxurious, coming with factory AC and full power, including power door locks, a first for Packard. They came with a potent 374 V8 with 310 hp and two four-barrels; cool! This looks like a good car and certainly it’s a rare one. Whether it’s a $300,000 car remains to be seen, and it’ll have to have a six-figure restoration to test that theory. Anyone want to go in on this one with me?! What do you think about this car: is it a $300,000 car once it’s restored? What’s it worth now in this condition?


  1. Van

    Why does the number plate look new and without rivets?
    What’s it like to have great cars and not take care of them?
    This would be a great way to cap off a Packard collection.
    If wishes were fishes my koi pond wouldn’t have room for water between the fish.

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    • A.J.

      Foolishly the plate has been removed and cleaned up.

      That is a 300k restoration project for what might be a 200k car. If the first car was more of a prototype or show car that would bump it more.

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      • John Lauter

        The vin plates on these cars are spot welded in place, no rivets. They are stainless steel, I have seen perfect plates on totally rotted junk yard cars.

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    • Cody

      They were not attached with rivets, and I think they are stainless. The Packard 400 that a looked at recently looked the same and no one cleaned it up.

      EDIT: Looks like the photo is going to post sideways and I’m not going to try and fix it.

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      • Dave Wright

        It is a silly notion that all vin tags are riveted……….many manufacturers simply use sheet metal screws. There is no standard.

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  2. Mark S

    I’d rather have the hard top if given the choice.

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  3. SunbeamerStu

    This ride looks absolutely cool as is. Cut off that wreck of a soft top, make the mechanicals roadworthy, and run it as a sunny day driver.

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  4. Dolphin Member

    Ouch! That’s one crusty puppy. Not sure I’d ever want to sit in there.

    I admit I’m not up on the details of Packard’s demise, but there were cars made after ’56. OK, maybe not in Detroit, I don’t know…

    What I do know is that the SCM Guide says the median auction price paid for these was about $63K, and the highest auction price ever paid was $170,500. Somebody might think that the first Caribbean made in 1956 is extra special, and that “Fully restored this car fetches over $300k” according to the seller, but I don’t see it.

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  5. Jim Mosley

    Packards were great automobiles almost from the very beginning,and it was sad to see the company “go under” after so many successful years of manufacturing terrific cars!! In my opinion this example would never bring $300,000 regardless of how much was spent on the “RESTO”

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  6. Dave Wright

    I had an old girl friend that had a 56 2 door HT left to her by a car collector uncle. It was pristine with all the bells and whistles but complicated. It had factory air, power everything, it was a nice car but I prefer the 1955 with simpler lines. We struggled with the wiring to keep it running. The Carribeans were the first of the mid 50’s Packards to appreciate and have pulled lesser models values up as well but this guy is dreaming on the value of this car.

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  7. Oldcarsarecool

    Love these cars !

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  8. Ed P

    The seats are in surprisingly good condition compared to the rest of the car. The 55-56 cars are my favorite Packards. A full frame-off resto is called for on this one. That is a lot of work and expense. $10k sounds to high to me.

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  9. A.J.

    If we are getting in to style/design the 53/54 version of the Caribbean is better looking to me. The 55/56 is much more typical 1950s styling. The 53/54 also has rock solid mechanics as opposed to the 55/56. Of course the dual quad V8 does trump the single 4 barrel straight 8 of the 53/54.

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    • Dave Wright

      That is what I was feebly trying to say……….

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  10. AMCFAN

    It almost looks like it was in a garage fire and pulled out in the last few seconds. My thoughts are that the restoration costs would be far more then the car would ever be worth. To sort out the complex systems and source and hand make parts as well as invest in several NICE driver parts cars even with a team of experts would take years.

    Packard’s quality and reputation were in the tank at this time. Clearly this wasn’t Packard of the 1930’s. No hiding the facts from the public that the company was in serious trouble. No one wanted to end up with a new orphan. But that is exactly what happened. The demise was swift. In less then 7 months of the 56 introduction production ended.

    They were made in Detroit however not at the famous location standing in ruins on East Grand Blvd today. They were assembled on Connor Ave. A cluster of a small facility compared to the 5 million square foot factory they vacated to build these cars. Sadly knowing the last days of Packard this car doesn’t feel special to me. It looks and feels like the ruins on left standing on E.Grand Blvd.

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  11. Cody

    As I understand, after 57 all of the parts and tooling were sent to Studebaker and the name was retired. The cars that followed were jokingly referred to as “Packardbakers”. Although, this car was probably built in Indiana since the 400s were built there and this is a trim level of that car.

    I really like the look of these late model Packards. They put a lot of effort into matching the styling of other cars on the market and it shows. On top of that, they developed a new V8 engine and used their own transmission. Clearly, they bit off more then they could chew, and that is a shame. I don’t believe they really had much of a choice though. With all of the big and small car companies constantly redesigning and innovating in post war America, they surely could not afford to stay stuck in the past. Many things contributed to the demise of Packard, oddly enough, making a bad car was not one of them.

    This one is rough, but not terrible. There are a lot of very rare parts on this car. That would be my guess as to what this car will be used for. Some of the trim is unique to the Caribbean and very rare. The production numbers on these cars are very low, especially for 56. Probably less than a thousand.

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  12. macvaugh

    @Scotty G. You are correct in your use of the Hagerty valuation tool, but I suspect the results were compromised by the few examples hitting the market.

    If you substitute the previous model year in the valuation tool, you will see that a ’55 model, which for the convertible is essentially the same car, a concours condition is at $134K and climbing.

    I watched one with a blue stripe at the RM/Sotheby in Detroit 2014 go for around $70K with commissions.

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    • macvaugh

      For the more knowledgeable out there, when I say “essentially the same car”, I admit that ’56 got the reversible cushions on the seats, improved oiling and greater displacement on the engine, and better wiring for the electrical suspension bits.

      All these would suggest that the ’56, and in particular, this ’56 could be the first $300K postwar Packard.

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  13. A.J.

    The 56 always brings more money than the 55 for the same reason a 69 Vette brings more than a 68. The 55 has a rep for being buggy. Still don’t see this as a 300k car no matter how much is put in to it.

    Btw, there have been a few post war Packard’s that have brought 300k plus. Here is one that brought 850k: http://www.barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Details/1954-PACKARD-PANTHER-CONVERTIBLE-137921

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    • Jeff DeWitt

      Well… that 850k Panther isn’t just your run of the mill Caribbean, (or even a Packard Hawk), it was really a show car, one of four.

      Very cool car, glad it survived!

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  14. chris

    300k?? I wonder what dream world this guy lives in.

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  15. Kent Pearson

    That ’54 Panther convert is probably the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen and if it has the twin 4 bbl V8 It is about the most perfect too. The 55s & 56s look too bulky and overhang their wheels by too much making them look like ponderous dinosaurs;

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  16. Jordan

    The car ended up selling on eBay for $19,000, I think. I don’t envy the person who paid that price, is planning to tackle the restoration, and is going to attempt to find the parts and mechanical expertise needed…mechanics who really know these unique and rather complicated cars aren’t easy to find these days.
    The estimated restored value of $300,000 is totally inflated and unrealistic, even if it is #1 of the 276 built. Packard Caribbeans have gone a bit soft in the past few years…$100,000-110,000 will probably buy you a #1-condition trailer queen/show car.

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  17. Donald M Brown

    Don’t forget about the unique torsion bar suspension introduced in 55 and on 56 as well. It was interconnected front to rear and had an automatic load leveling mechanism. Very high tech for the time. It provided a velvety smooth ride on even the roughest ground. Nothing like it has been seen before or since. Citroen made something like it after with hydralics. The Packard last gasp was very sad but impressive considering the innovations they left for us at the end.

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  18. Paul Payton

    I’d love to have one of these working. I once had a ’56 Clipper, which drove like a very powerful living room couch. Sadly, the automatic load leveler didn’t work and 1500 miles into my ownership the engine seized up! Turns out it had a ’55 engine swapped into it (I failed to do my due diligence), and ’55 was the year of the awful oiling which took the life of a lot of Packard engines. They solved the problem for the ’56 models, but by then it was too late. Trying to restore that poor beautiful Clipper just about broke me and I had to walk away from it. I wonder what happened to it; at the time it was just an old orphan car in the “value valley” between a new ride and a cool restoration. Ah, the one that got away….

    Like 0

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