1956 Packard Patrician Touring Sedan in Dover White and Mojave Tan
On this day in 1956, 25 June, the last of the Detroit-built Packards were built. The production that day was twenty-four Clippers and eighteen Packards. Altogether, there had been 28,835 cars built for the 1956 model year – 18,482 Clippers and 10,353 Packards. The very last car was a Senior Series Packard – not a Junior Series Executive nor a separate make Clipper, but a Patrician Touring Sedan, VIN 5682-4775. No one knows the fate of this final Packard.
We have covered the Herculean efforts of Packard president James Nance to restore Packard to its former glory as America’s premier maker of luxury automobiles in several previous posts, one being HERE.
I am not aware of any other executive in any industry who was hit with so many issues from so many directions all at once: the loss of the J-47 jet engine contract and other Defense work, the sale of body supplier Briggs to Chrysler and the resulting scramble about where and how to build the cars, the refusal of the banks and insurance companies to fund the tooling for the all-new 1957 models. Yet, Packard came within a hair of pulling it off.
In viewing a ‘55 and ‘56 Packard sitting next to each other, the casual observer would think that the two model years differed only in trim. But that observation would be wrong. Across the line, the company cataloged 1,000 changes between 1955 and 1956. While some of the changes were quite minor, others were significant:
* Aluminum housing for the Ultramatic Drive for weight reduction and better cooling.
* Anti-theft device built into the Park function of the push button Twin Ultramatic Drive.
* The industry’s first power door locks on the Patrician Touring Sedans.
* The industry’s first limited slip differential.
I was at my maternal grandparents’ house at 412 North Collins Street, Tulia, Texas that summer day when I heard on the news broadcast on radio station KGNC, Amarillo, that Packard was closing. I was nine years old and already a “Gear Head”, not to mention being a Packard “nut”. My grandfather had rescued a 1937 Packard 120 business coupe from a farm outside of town. The Packard was sitting in front of their house. When I heard the news of Packard’s demise, tears streaming down my face, I gathered some of my grandmother’s cleaning rags and found a can of Simonize car wax and went out and started waxing granddad’s Packard, bawling my eyes out the whole time.
My grandfather’s green 1937 Packard 120 got an extra coat of wax the day I heard on the radio that Packard was closing.
1956 Packard Four Hundred hardtop in Dover White and Persian Aqua
1956 Packard Caribbean convertible with The push button Twin Ultramatic Drive and factory air conditioning. Packard was the first to integrate the air conditioning outlets into the instrument panel. The upholstery on the ‘56 Caribbean’s is reversible: all leather on one side, fabric and leather on the other.
1956 Packard ad: “The Greatest Packard of Them All!”
was also the last real Packard.