Used Car Lot Packardbaker: 1958 Packard Wagon

Sometimes the end of life is beautiful.  Other times, fate deals a rather grim hand.  For the once stately Packard marque, the end was ugly and totally lacking in the dignity that the brand deserved.  Now, one of the last cars to bear the revered Packard name is languishing on a used car lot.  Take a look at this 1958 Packard station wagon for sale on craigslist in Milton, Vermont.  Will the car’s strangely high market value save it from the fate so many of its last year brethren succumbed to?  Is it worth the $6,950 asking price to someone with a love for these forlorn wagons?  Thanks to eagle eyed reader T.J. for this interesting tip!

Mac’s Motor City Garage has a piece on these final Packards that is a must read for those of you who are interested in adding one of these end of the line cars to your stable.  The condensed version of the story is that Packard purchased Studebaker, but the deal was not a good idea in hindsight.  Studebaker was overloaded with debt and additionally saddled with a less than exciting product line.  Before long, production of legitimate Packards ceased, but the name lived on in zombielike fashion.

By the time model years 1957 and 1958 rolled around, the company was adding styling features to existing Studebakers and badging these misshapen beasts as Packards.  The Hail Mary hope was that the financials would improve to the point that a new, luxurious Packard model could be produced.  This, of course, never came to be and maybe that was a good thing.  Perhaps if the company would have called on Raymond Loewy to assist in creating a new Packard it might have been worth the effort.  Come to think of it, imagine for a minute if the Avanti was badged as a Packard…

Regardless, there are still a number of people who collect these Packardbakers.  While I cannot remember seeing one of these in person, there are pictures out there of fully restored cars that don’t look too bad in some two-color combinations.  The car we see here doesn’t look to be in too bad a shape given that it resides way above the Mason-Dixon line in what could be charitably called an occasionally snowy climate.  The only glaring faults seem to be the rusty chrome bumpers and a lack of stainless trim in a few areas.  We are assured that the missing pieces will go with the car.  We won’t even begin to go into the cost of re-chroming the bumpers.  There is also a problem with the driver’s window.  All new side glass will also be included in the sale.

Inside, the condition is about the same.  The dash looks to be in useable condition, and there is an aftermarket air conditioning unit under it.  The steering wheel and steering column are in good condition aside from a missing horn button.  The picture also shows a Harbor Freight moving blanket covering what remains of the upholstery.  Looking lower gives us a gander at intact front floors minus what might be a factory stamped hole in the floor.  Perhaps one of our Packardbaker experts can help us understand what this hole is for.

The rear floor seems to be a bit more porous.  We do get a good glimpse of what the interior looked like originally.  The seller makes no bones about the car needing an entirely new interior.  At least a pattern is there for the seats and door panels too.

Under the hood is a V-8 engine with the compressor for the previously mentioned aftermarket air conditioner sitting proudly on top.  I do not see a belt for the compressor, so one could likely assume that this unit is not currently operational.  This does make you wonder if there is a business that specializes in these aftermarket air conditioning units.  They aren’t rare, so someone must be able to help owners get these back in shape.

The car is said to run and drive, and the owner has spent the time and money to get the engine in shape and the all-important brakes repaired.  The wheels have been refinished and a set of new tires are wrapped around those flashy wheels.  We are informed by the seller that the car will need body work, paint, an interior, and exhaust work.

Do you think bringing this unusual piece of history back to life is worth the money and effort?  Let us know how you feel about these Packardbakers in the comments.  Also, take a minute to discuss the aftermarket air conditioners that have breezed through your life!

Comments

  1. jmolsn Member

    I owned this Packard for about 3 years before selling it to this seller. I was able to trace it back back the “Hackenburger” auction a number of years ago because I was bidding on a Packard Hawk in the same big car auction. I didn’t get the Hawk or this wagon but it (wagon) showed up awhile later on eBay, that’s when I bought it from a collector/car dealer. When it arrived I immediately realized I bit off more than I could chew. I bought all new flat glass for it which I never installed, its still with the. car for the next owner. Its solid. the floors are covered with heavy rust but not rusted through. The interior needs total replacement. The engine is strong. As a “orphan car” collector, I know rare doesn’t mean valuable but with only 150ish ever built you’d think it would be worth big bucks but its not. I had it for sale for almost 2 years until this buyer bought it. It deserves to be restored as rare as it is but it will take much more $$$ than it ever will be worth. Someone save it!!!

    Like 47
  2. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    You said it Jim!
    I know this car from Jim’s time as conservator (aamof I helped him sell her) and she was rough but definitely savable. Truly a shame that a 1 of 149+/- car, of which how many are still on the road/not crushed/rusted away in some junk yard lot? 20-30 – 50 ? – probably not much more. Despite that, this car will probably sell for around $5000. If it was from almost any other make, it would be worth ten times that even in this condition.
    Really do hope someone saves her.

    Like 19
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    That AC compressor dates back to the ’50s. The large clutches are very heavy and usually part of aftermarket dealer installed units. Hard to tell but they were usually 2 cylinder with the large clutches dampening out vibration. Have built or installed several AC systems in all sort of cars through the years and was always amazed that this all started in the ’40s and maybe even earlier.

    Like 10
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Bob,

      In 1958 S-P had an under dash A/C unit similar to this one, but it had block letters across the bottom that spelled out Studebaker – Packard. This unit is an ‘Arctic Air’ unit, and it’s from the late 50s, possibly sold installed in the car when new.

      From a pure production number viewpoint, this is THE lowest production [non-custom bodied vehicle] post-war Packard made. It’s extremely rare with only 159 built.

      That said, I am reminded of the fact that sometimes an item is rare because they couldn’t sell them when they were new, and no one wants them today. Sadly this is the case for these rare cars.

      I drove a supercharged 1957 Packard Clipper thru high school and college, and also owned a loaded [including A/C] ’58 Packard sedan, but back in the 70s and early 80s no one wanted them either.

      Like 3
  4. gaspumpchas

    Go ahead and get out the flamethrowers, but–straight axle gasser-hog out the rear wheelwells, drop the @$$end down– caddy, buick or olds engine. Sure would be something different and possibly make it less fugly. Thoughts from a gear head grey hair. Good luck and happy motoring!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 6
  5. GFR

    I’ve always contended that Packard was treated to a very cruel death. The 1956 model year should have been their last, as everything after that was a design abomination. Had they called this design a Studebaker, I’d have been fine with it, since it was consistent with Studebaker’s styling. But call it a Packard?? Cruel, very very cruel. My father’s 1955 Packard 400 was far more befitting the name. Nonetheless, it should be saved.

    Like 1
    • Jeff DeWitt

      SP had contractual obligations to the Packard dealers, they couldn’t pull the plug any sooner.

    • John E. Klintz

      Couldn’t agree more, GFR; this vehicle is, frankly, disgusting. A feeble attempt by feeble, out-of-touch management. As it is rare it’s worth saving to remind us of such things and hopefully to NOT do this again. The industry is currently in a doldrum period not experienced since the 1970’s; hopefully a couple companies will come to the rescue.

  6. Rw

    Now that would make one awesome straight axle street freak.

    Like 1
  7. local_sheriff

    Now while I wouldn’t call a ’58 Packard downright pretty it’s still a fascinating design. I’m fortunate enough to have actually seen one of these ’58 wagons in the metal (an extremely high level resto) and I think this design makes a much, much better impression IRL than on pics.

    This one is definately a vehicle which deserves to be in the hands of the proper caretaker

    Like 13
  8. mike

    Never saw one of these.The front looks a lot like a 58 Ford.The back not sure what they copied.Interesting though

    Like 4
  9. Ramone Member

    Could that hole in the driver’s side floor be for access to the brake master cylinder? I had a Rambler like that.

    Like 9
    • Rw

      My 53 Chevy sedan delivery has a floor access for master cylinder

      Like 5
    • Jeff DeWitt

      Yes, that’s exactly what it’s for. I have two Studebakers with the same factory hole.

      Like 2
  10. scott m

    That single to dual headlight conversion is fugly!

    Like 6
    • That AMC Guy

      Then there’s the awesome tailfins tacked on top of tailfins!

      Like 5
    • Jeff DeWitt

      Yeah… I’m not a fan of that either. Quad headlights were the big thing then, and Studebaker didn’t have the money to tool up for new fenders so they did what they could. It actually looks a lot better, not great but better, on a car in good condition.

      Like 1
  11. Gary

    I dont think the front is ugly………………just like the Packard Hawk…………….i love these cars…….once in a while i see a beat up packard hawk driving not to far from me……..havent figured out yet where its coming from

    Like 7
  12. Rick Rothermel

    Neat car! I’d be tempted to do a pro-touring car out of this… new chassis. Proper handling, brakes and power. There wouldn’t be another one on the planet…

    Like 4
  13. ChingaTrailer

    I believe I saw another wagon like this on the old part of Williams, California a few years back. Had no idea they are so rare. I like this one and if I had more money than brains, I’d buy, restore and drive it!!

    Like 1
  14. Heck Dodson Member

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Packardbaker wagon, ever! Love the back tail fins. That AC compressor and clutch is even older than some cast iron Tecumsehs I’ve worked with on early 60s cars. Classic Auto Air out of Texas could probably tell you more about it. This one is definitely worth saving and was good that the previous owner stepped in and gave more details. Great find!

    Like 7
  15. BrianT BrianT Member

    Wonder if the nose from a 53 Studebaker Commander would bolt on this?

    Like 1
  16. Terrry

    Back in the 70s when I was in tech school, we had a student who drove one of these. It was magenta with a white top. I was always curious what he did with the car. If I had one of these and a bottomless wallet, I would restore it and keep it exactly stock. There are so few left, to chop one up would be a crime.

    Like 15
  17. John King

    Saw a beautiful 1957 Packard wagon a few weeks ago. I’ll try to upload a photo. Or is that not allowed?

    Like 2
  18. Gary

    I like Studies, but this thing is butt ugly

  19. Fireman DK

    if it were a 2 door , it could have been the “Batmobile” with some work! I have to love the front and rear styling of these cars , excess to the max but it just works , sort of like Barris butchering a show car to make the batmobile, horrible , but dang, it really worked ! It may not be a Ford, but it definitly has some Bat style…… I hope someone saves this , I would love to see this factory fresh !

  20. Fireman DK

    I have to post a second time: I went lookin’ and found the one off factory made 1958 Packard 2 door convertible on line: Just as I envisioned it would look like ! I think they were on to something , too bad it did not last ……neat car .

    Like 1
  21. Lou Rugani

    There’s a black ’58 Packard wagon in “Hearts in Atlantis” with Sir Anthony Hopkins.

    Anyways, note it’s seemingly okay to hang fun names like ‘Packardbaker’ and ‘Hash’ on shared-background cars from the Independents but never any Big Three cars that had even less effort to distinguish them over the past century.

    Like 1
  22. Pirate

    I wonder if your scout could get some information on the El Camino hiding in the background of a couple of the pictures. Someone might want to grab it. Both too far for me to pursue.

  23. Dave

    It’s hideous! I love it!

  24. Bruce Berst Member

    The Studebakers and Packardbakers also had holes in the floor to access transmission dipsticks.

  25. chrlsful

    pretty nice as not the typical bulgemobile of the 50s. A lill more streamlined for many of that era. Love the upholstery pattern, color. Just nota cloth guy (vinyl is nice’n slippery, as is leather). Known a ‘wagonman’ round here I really want it due to that~
    5 or 7 dor is fine tho I’d like to try it w/a left swing rear barn dor. The rarity scares me away as I like oe resto w/sleeper upgrades for modern motoring (4 or 5 speed automatics, frnt disc, warmed over i6 or i8, etc). Great car that I’d daily otherwise.

  26. Ken Barker Ken Member

    I had a turquoise 58 packard hawk with a 289
    I didn’t have it long but it was pretty nice. I believe it was 1974. Time flies

    Like 1
  27. Mark Yoo

    I just found a complete 58 Packard Wagon at county line junk yard Geneva Ohio good parts car a lot of rust!

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Mark,

      Is the junkyard name “County Line”? If not, can you let me know what the yard’s name is, as I know someone in the Packard club who would like to get more info on it.

      Like 1

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