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1953 Packard Convertible *SOLD*

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*SOLD* I think in terms of bang for the buck, this handsome 1953 Packard Cavalier convertible (or is it a 200? Packard experts, please correct me because I can't seem to figure out which it is) certainly scores pretty high. It's a mostly original car with what appears to be just a single repaint maybe 15 years ago and good maintenance over the years, but I don't think it has ever been restored. It looks like it has always been a red car because I can't find any other colors in the nooks and crannies, and I do find the blackwall tires on this car rather appealing. It's interesting to note that this car is virtually identical to the $80,000 Caribbean sitting next to it in the showroom, as they share a body shell, engine, transmission, chassis, and even some of the trim. For what it's worth, the doors on this car close better than the Caribbean and they both feel like iron ingots going down the road--not a shake or a squeak anywhere. That's pretty impressive for a giant ragtop. The paint is decent but not amazing, with some orange peel and signs of use, but for the money, who cares? Get in and go, don't worry about it. Believe me, once you've had a car where you don't have to fret, you'll find it is extremely liberating. Another plus is the chrome, which is in mostly excellent condition throughout, with zero pitting or other issues beyond some polishing scratches, even in that giant grille. The spotlight is a bit scruffy, but I'm not counting that since it could be removed or replaced pretty easily, and the little tail fins out back are a bit faded, but I can't really complain since the chrome on my '41 Buick isn't any better. Plastic parts like the crests and taillights are quite nice, too.


My gut says the interior has been reupholstered at some point, but it looks period-correct with the black trim and alabaster centers (not white, but not yellow, either). The carpets are definitely new and the door panels are crisp, including the chrome bits that look great. That's the exact same dash as the Caribbean, and on this car all the gauges work except the clock, which is nice. The steering wheel and horn button are not cracked or sun-baked and the engine-turning on the gauge panel is crisp and bright. The radio is not working, as usual, but the heater/defroster puts out decent BTUs and the older black canvas power convertible top goes up and down as it should. It includes a black vinyl boot that fits OK, but seems to need some snaps or something--there's hardware but it doesn't seem compatible. I'm obviously not thrilled with the red carpet in the trunk, but at this price I'm not going to fix it. It's not hiding anything and you can still get the correct fabric to make it look right--it's more than a simple mat change, but worth it in my opinion if you want to add some real value. There's a full-sized spare, a jack, and a little wooden shelf up front someone made to maximize trunk space.


This Packard uses the same 327 cubic inch straight-8 that you'll find in the Caribbean, and it's just as silky smooth and torquey. In fact, I've had this car up to an indicated 70 MPH without a quiver or a vibration, which was impressive as hell. It starts quickly and easily, idles well cold or hot, and just generally goes about its business without any fuss. The 4-barrel carburetor makes 180 horsepower, which is a good figure for 1953, and while this car isn't exactly fast, it'll never feel like you're holding anyone up. It's clean but not detailed for show, and I see two different colors of engine enamel in there so someone has cleaned it up at some point. It's fairly correct, with a big oil bath air cleaner on top of the original Carter carburetor, and anything that was upgraded was done well--new wiring, a rebuilt pump assembly for the power top, and a fresh motor for the heater which explains why it works so well. Power steering is nice, too. The transmission is Packard's Ultra-Matic 2-speed automatic, which isn't especially thrilling, but it's durable and works just fine, and with 3.54 gears out back, it's a good all-around cruiser. The undercarriage is a bit dirty but there's no rust or rot and no structural damage, which is why it feels so solid on the road. The power steering leaks a little (what, you're surprised?) but otherwise it's tight and there's lots of recent work, including fresh brake hoses and wheel cylinders, brand new 225/75/15 radials, a switchable electric fuel pump, and most of an exhaust system. IF there's any complaint, it might be that the spare tire well appears to have been patched up at some point--there's goop on it, but it's not falling apart or showing visible rust holes.


The price is $22,900. Look at the Caribbean at $79,900 and then look again at this car. 80% of the car for 30% of the price. It feels the same from behind the wheel (better in some ways), and there are little things you can do here and there to add value. It's the kind of car you can drive every day without worries, park it wherever you want, and just have fun in it. And in an ocean of garden-variety cars in this price range, a Packard convertible is always going to stand out. Take a look then let me know. This is the biggest bang for the buck in my showroom today. Thanks for looking!

















Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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