sftamx1

1953 Packard Caribbean

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I have a gorgeous 1953 Packard Caribbean I will be selling Thursday/ Friday at the Hershey car corral.  It has a very unusual custom 2 piece hardtop attachment covered in vinyl.  It looks factory, it is so well constructed, but I am told it is a one off custom piece. The car can be fitted  with the rear section only, similiar to a town car with an open front! Has anyone ever seen or heard of such a removable hardtop for a Caribbean? 

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Edited by sftamx1
Error (see edit history)

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Packard themselves probably never would have made a one-off piece like that.   Packard may have designed it, but they would have farmed something like that out to Creative Industries, Dietrich, or Durham.

 

Craig

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There are not enough Packard experts on this forum, at this time to make an educated comment on your inquiry.  It would need posed to one of the 2 Packard clubs, and then be sifted back to the club historians.  If you have not already done that.   I studied Packard for awhile and owned a 1949 Custom 8 once, but that does not make me an expert.  I can only speculate based on all of my readings and understanding of Packard circa 1953 that they would NOT play around with something like this.

 

Many things to consider -

 

1. Packard was in a bit of dire straits in 1953 and only made the Caribbean because they knew everybody else was coming out with a "Motorama" type car in 1953, and they did not want to be the odd company out.  It took a lot of work to get the bodies to Freeport, Illinois and back and they were considered special enough without a bunch of options. 

 

2. Any roof section created to fit a Caribbean would likely have been full length, to make it a true 3 season or 4 season car.  These half roofs went solidly out of fashion in 1941-42. 

 

3. Any purchaser of a Caribbean could likely afford such a one off piece to be made.  

.

4. There are to my knowledge no factory photos of such a roof .

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All Caribbeans were made for Packard by the Mitchell-Bentley Corp. in Ionia, Michigan, so it's certainly possible that they would have made something like this perhaps as an experiment or for a client who really wanted such a thing. It was never an option or feature offered by Packard, but with custom-made cars anything is possible. Mitchell-Bentley made woody wagon bodies for several OEMs as well as a lot of one-off work. I believe they may have also been the contractor for the Continental Mark II, but I'm not positive. With 70 years of history behind it, that top really could have been made by anyone especially if there are no markings or numbers on it.

 

It's certainly a unique feature. We've got our yellow '53 Caribbean in the car corral today and I'll try to come over and have a look.

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45 minutes ago, B Jake Moran said:

I can only speculate based on all of my readings and understanding of Packard circa 1953 that they would NOT play around with something like this.

 

1. Packard was in a bit of dire straits in 1953 and only made the Caribbean because they knew everybody else was coming out with a "Motorama" type car in 1953, and they did not want to be the odd company out.  It took a lot of work to get the bodies to Freeport, Illinois and back and they were considered special enough without a bunch of options. 

Packard sure had time to 'play around' with show cars, including the Panama, Panther, and the Balboa, just to name three of them.

 

I believe all, including the Caribbean were modified production bodies done locally at either Creative Industries or Mitchell-Bentley/Ionia Body Division in, or near Detroit. 

 

Craig

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Is there a coach builders tag on the top? The rear window treatment looks  similar to what Derham would have designed. Intereseting roof.

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No ID that I could find. This IS a full roof,albeit in 2 sections. It takes 4 adults to change it out....

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Looks great, and superbly made. As it can be in "Town Car" mode, can it also be used in "Landaulet" mode by just using the front section ?  🤔  -  Carl 

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Do you have a photo of the Caribbean with the top attached ? Looks well built.

 

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No mention of this in the recent Mitchell-Bentley book which covers their postwar work for Packard.

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Matt,

 

I read that the Mark II and '55-'57 Thunderbird bodies were all made at the Budd plant on the east side of Detroit in the Liberty Motor Car Company plant.  Chrysler now owns the building as part of its Jefferson North complex, but it is apparently vacant. 

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My book on Creative Industries does make brief mention on later reworks of a couple of Packard Panthers having removable roofs, but it was well after 1953.

 

Craig

 

 

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I think you should have brought it with the top on it if you really wanted to sell it.

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Packard played with this style earlier on - the first introduction was in an early Darrin and then they played with it via the Brown Bomber or Phantom http://theoldmotor.com/?p=156813

 

Some creative people have added their touches to Packards over time - they are pretty much interesting and find their niche with certain buyers, but ...

 

And, periodically something truly unique to the period shows up. 

 

Your knowledge crowd though is at Hershey this week and not playing on this forum much. 

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9 hours ago, alsancle said:

I think you should have brought it with the top on it if you really wanted to sell it.

Correct - car should be one way or another sold with the top on it. 

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16 hours ago, Owen_Dyneto said:

No mention of this in the recent Mitchell-Bentley book which covers their postwar work for Packard.

 

I believe these were made in Freeport, Illinois not in Michigan.   This is going off recollection/memory.  Ionia-Mitchell had plants or facilities in various locations. 

 

And yes I know Packard still made show cars in the 50's but not at the pace or with the encouragement of Nance, no way.  Ed McCauley left in this time, bailing and that ended sanctioned show car development.  A lot of what they did was pure skunkworks.

Edited by B Jake Moran (see edit history)

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3 hours ago, B Jake Moran said:

 

I believe these were made in Freeport, Illinois not in Michigan.   This is going off recollection/memory.  Ionia-Mitchell had plants or facilities in various locations. 

 

And yes I know Packard still made show cars in the 50's but not at the pace or with the encouragement of Nance, no way.  Ed McCauley left in this time, bailing and that ended sanctioned show car development.  A lot of what they did was pure skunkworks.

Two very important showcars (for Packard) were made during Nance's era; the Request and the Predictor.

 

The Request was a reply (hence its name) to address loyal customers who wanted former styling cues to be integrated into latest designs, and the Predictor was to convince bankers and other Wall Street financiers that Studebaker-Packard was being forward-thinking, and not 'out of the loop' at being stale with design and innovation, and to invest in them.  Of course those plans never came to be.

 

Craig

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