posted at the Cohort by Curtis Perry
When most folks think “Packard”, this isn’t exactly what usually comes to mind. This looks more like a ’53 Ford with a bad rhinoplasty. Well, strictly speaking, it’s not a Packard, just a “Clipper”, newly-installed Packard president James Nance’s solution to the continuing debasement of Packard’s luxury car image. Henceforth, the Clipper would be its own division, to do battle with GM’s formidable B-O-P trio and their would-be competitors in the very competitive medium-price segment of the market. Good luck with that, as Ford and Chrysler would soon find out with their Edsel and DeSoto.
Technically, Packard had been building mid-priced cars ever since the Depression forced them to, with the 1935 120. And in 1937, the 115 even had a six cylinder engine. But Packard struggled with the new post war environment once the seller’s boom years were over, and was ailing. And Nance’s last ditch effort was to take Packard upscale again, spinning off the lower tier Clipper line into a separate brand. But as can be seen from the ads, it was still “Packard Clipper”. So it wasn’t really any different, and it was still the same basic car, sitting on the same 122″ wheelbase, using the same body shell.
The basic Clipper used the smaller 288 inch flathead straight eight. But the Clipper DeLuxe shared the big (monstrously so, and 1000 lb heavy) 327 inch version with the senior Packards. Now that would be a fun car to have, a 1953 Clipper DeLuxe two door sedan with that giant hunk of cast iron wrapped around eight cylinders in the front. I saw one of these engines idling once at a car show, and it was impossible to tell it was running except for the fan spinning in front. All of that iron, a giant flywheel, and well-balanced internal parts make these creamy-smooth.