I stumbled upon this 1958 export-model Packard-badged Studebaker pickup truck recently while researching another piece, and figured it was too good not to share.
The story goes that in 1958, a group of Packard dealers in Argentina wanted to start selling trucks, but were licensed by the government to only import Packard vehicles. Unfortunately for them, Packard had not made a pickup truck since 1923. However, these dealers were not going to be deterred so easily.
At this time, Packard was owned by Studebaker, and Studebaker manufactured a perfectly serviceable pickup truck, albeit one that could not be imported into Argentina for no other reason than the name on the hood. So the dealers convinced Studebaker-Packard to slap the Packard name on the Studebaker Transtar truck for export purposes.
Making it somewhat worthy of the Packard name, these trucks appear to have been very well equipped, at least by the standards of the day. The Packard trucks were all 3/4-ton (750 kg) models with a NAPCO four-wheel-drive system. The only engine offered was the “Packard Star” 170 hp 259 ci Studebaker V8, the top Studebaker truck engine in 1958. The sole transmission was a four-speed manual with a two-speed transfer case. The only option appears to have been the front winch.
While the above ad proclaims that they were “Totally constructed in the country,” in actuality these would have been CKD kits assembled using imported parts. In any case, sales were slow, and production numbers were correspondingly small – some sources claim 28 units, others say 60. Sales (and production) likely leaked into the 1959 calendar year, giving these trucks the honor of being the last Packard branded vehicles to be produced.
The 1958 Packard Pickup truck has attained somewhat of a mythical status among Studebaker circles. For decades, the only records of these trucks’ existence have been the three factory photos and one period advertisement included in the post above: No other evidence of these truck’s existence has turned up, and none are known to have survived.
At least until very recently, that is. In April 2021, Diego Munoz of Argentina posted several tantalizing photos of a 1958 Packard truck he recently discovered to the Studebaker Drivers Club forums, offering definitive proof of these truck’s existence, and that at least one example still survives.
Unfortunately, the photos he posted are of the front only. But from what we can see, there appear to be minor detail differences between the factory photos and the actual truck in terms of the badging on the front.