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Luxury Defined: The 1955 Packard Caribbean

By Renée Crist, ACM Collections Manager

When former Hotpoint CEO James J. Nance took over the leadership at Packard in 1952, his goal was to re-establish Packard as a luxury brand. Although Nance was new to the automotive industry, he knew luxury would market well, and the result was the 1953 Packard Caribbean.

For 1955, the Caribbean was offered only as a 2 door convertible. It was powered by Packard’s first ever V8 power offering, a 352 CID V8 engine producing 275 horsepower matched to a Twin-Ultramatic Transmission. The car rode on Packard’s exclusive “Torsion-Level” suspension. Designed by engineer Bill Allison, the unique suspension design “floats” the car on four points: the front & rear opposite twist lever arms on two long torsion bars. The car is equipped with many luxury features, power steering, power brakes, and power windows. The Caribbean was available in two or three-tone paint patterns. This three-tone example is in the colors of White Jade, Jade, and Emerald Metallic.

Other unique features which identified the 1955 Caribbean: hood received double false air scoops with no hood mascot, a wrap-around windshield, egg-crate grille, large “V” symbols in strategic places and a slim body side contrast-color panel formed by two full-length chrome moldings- the top ones swept up at the rear connecting to fender-mount antennas.

At $5932 base price, the Caribbean was the most expensive model in the Packard line for the 1955 model year. Five Hundred Caribbean models were produced by Packard in 1955.

See  the 1955 Packard Caribbean on display in the refreshed Route 66 exhibit celebrating 1950s & 60’s convertibles for the Summer Drive Series. Hurry! This exhibit ends September 24.

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