Son Ed was perusing Craigslist when he found this unusual find: a 1953 Packard “hearse”. I assume it’s most likely actually a “service car”, used to transport corpses to the funeral home, as it’s just too modest for actual funeral use. A little bit of research turns up some interesting things about this particular Henney “Junior” Professional Car, like the fact that it was a flop. But that doesn’t make it any less compelling.
The site coachbuilt.com is a treasure trove, and in its Henney section has this to say about the Junior:
In 1953 and 1954 Henney offered a budget-priced short-wheelbase (127″) companion to their long wheelbase (156″) professional cars. In order to keep down it’s price, the Junior’s chassis, unlike that of the Senior, was from the budget Packard series and the interior trim was made from cheaper materials. Henney was well into the production of the Junior before it realized that they were losing money on every Junior built and instituted a huge price increase that effectively killed the model.
Total production of the appropriately-named Henney Junior’s totaled 500, 380 in 1953 and only 120 in 1954. A substantial number of the 1953 coaches were sold to the US Government at a loss a fact that helped contribute to Henney’s already-poor financial picture.
The Junior was awkward-looking at best, a window between the side door and the rear quarter window would have helped the car’s looks immensely.
Another factor that hurt the car was its rear compartment length, which looked good measured at the floor, but translated into a less than ideal length at the beltline because of the angle of the rear of the body and the amount of floor length that ran under the top of the front seatback.
Stiff competition from emerging “budget” coach producers in Indiana and Tennessee doomed the project, and Packard’s cancellation of their long-wheelbase chassis for the 1955 model year doomed the full-sized coaches as well.
The only discrepancy is that coachbuilt.com says it was on a 127″ wheelbase, but it looks just like the Clipper two-door sedan, and my Encyclopedia says that the Clipper model 2633 commercial chassis (Henney Bodies) did use the 122″ wheelbase chassis as the regular Clipper. So this is really a glorified sedan delivery.
Power for the Clipper came via the smaller of Packard’s venerable flathead straight eights, with 288 CID and 135 hp. Three-on-the-tree here, keeping with the budget approach.
It’s quite a find, given that just 500 were made. And the price is $7800; junior priced too.
Hat tip to Ed!