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Lot 16
1956 Packard Caribbean Hardtop


From the Miller Family Packard Collection

CHASSIS NO: 56971122

• Rare as 1 of only 263 total coupes built in 1956
• Packard’s last great automobile
• Equipped with dual four-barrel carburetors; the most powerful production car that year
• Fitted with rare and highly desirable factory air-conditioning
• Part of the Miller Family Packard Collection for over 40 years

374 cid OHV V-8 engine, 310 HP, dual four-barrel carburetors, three-speed Twin-Ultramatic automatic transmission, front and rear torsion bar self-leveling suspension, and power-assisted four-wheel drum brakes; wheelbase: 127”

Packard revealed the sporty Caribbean model in 1953. Based on Packard’s non-production 1952 show car, the Pan American convertible, the Caribbean utilized a Cavalier body that was heavily modified by the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation of Ionia, Michigan. The hood featured a full-width scoop, the taillights were horizontal in “fishtail” rear fenders, and the cars were fitted with chrome wire wheels, including a continental spare tire. All side trim was removed, and full rear wheel cutouts further differentiated the car from the rest of the Packard line, and the end result was a truly elegant and striking automobile. The Caribbean was only available as a convertible, and could be ordered in four colors: Polaris Blue, Gulf Green metallic, Matador Red metallic and Sahara Sand. It was powered by the 180-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch straight-eight motor and at $5,210, it was almost $2,000 more than the Cavalier convertible, and $1,400 more than a Cadillac convertible. A total of 750 1953 Packard Caribbean convertibles were built. The 1954 Caribbean was markedly different, as it received a two-tone paint job with a dividing side-molding, chrome across the hood scoop, and chrome trim adorning the lower rear wheel cutouts, which were now half size.

The 1955 Packard Caribbean was a stunning tri-colored convertible, powered by a brand new 352-cubic-inch, 275-horsepower OHV V-8, with dual four-barrel carburetors. Every power option was standard, except for air-conditioning, and the car rode on electronically operated, self-leveling torsion bar suspension. The Caribbeans were white over black with the third color – blue, green, red, or pink, placed between the other two on a wide band that ran the length of the car at waist height, sweeping up over the rear fins to the twin antennas. “Cathedral window” rear taillights topped bumpers, through which the exhaust exited. Production was limited to 500 Caribbeans, which cost almost $6,000 – again nearly $2,000 more than a 1955 Cadillac convertible. For 1956, a Packard Caribbean coupe joined the convertible and the car’s engine size was bumped up to 374-cubic-inches, with 310-horsepower. New for ’56 were deeper headlight hoods, and the front bumper was modified with an air scoop. There were new color combinations and reversible seat cushions, offering leather or brocade surfaces. The problematic oil pump from 1955 was replaced with a higher-flow unit and the suspension connections improved, but it was all too late. Packard sold only 28,835 cars in 1956 and Studebaker-Packard basically sold out to Curtiss-Wright. Only 276 Caribbean convertibles and 263 coupes left the factory and the 1957 and 1958 Packards would become just face-lifted Studebakers. All the Caribbeans are handsome and very fast for their considerable size as well, and their low production numbers help keep them desirable to collectors. Today, the Packard Caribbean is widely considered to be the most collectible postwar Packard.

This superb 54,000-mile Packard, finished in tri-tone Dover White, Naples Orange, and Corsica Black, features a beautiful original interior with reversible seat cushions of pleated leather on one side and Boucle cloth on the other. It also boasts a host of powered convenience amenities such as seats and windows, factory wire wheels, dual four-barrel carburetors with correct “Batwing” air cleaner, plus the aforementioned rare factory air-conditioning. Lovingly cared for in the Miller Family Packard Collection for over 40 years in their southern California climate-controlled garage, this outstanding example is one of the greatest cars from the mid-century era and is ready to be enjoyed by its next fortunate owner.

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