Posts from ‘Packard’
For whatever reason, armchair sociologists and most of the non-automotive media seem to have fixated on 1957 as a pinnacle year for almost all American human endeavors. The best fashions, kitchen-appliance designs, diner menus, and, of course, cars, are largely ascribed to this singular period.
Note: Frank Peiler is the publisher emeritus of Consumer Guide Automotive. For more of Frank’s “What If?” artwork, check out his blogs on the 1957 Mercury, 1957 Packard, Cord 810, and Lincoln Continental.
The 1955 Chevrolet had it all. It was all-new from bumper to bumper with a new frame, new V8 engine, and new body.
The body design was a complete departure from previous Chevys. The hood was low, and the fender line was window-sill high. With a wide panoramic windshield and Ferrari-like grille, it looked like it was designed as a show car for one of the General Motors Motoramas. Here it is in hardtop form . . .
Note: This article is reprinted from the February 2013 issue of Collectible Automobile.
Longtime Collectible Automobile readers may recall the 1952 Packard Pan American from an October 1986 story and from an October 1992 Personality Profile on its designer, Richard Arbib. So why this encore? Well, aside from the pleasure of seeing an old friend still hale and hearty, this Pan American is the first of only six built—and the only one built without its intended folding top.
As noted historian George Hamlin recounted in the Arbib profile, the Pan American was one of several “sports car” ideas that the styling consultant doodled up for the Henney Body Company of Freeport, Illinois, long a supplier of Packard-based hearses, ambulances, and other professional cars. A successful industrial designer since the late 1930s, Arbib had also worked for General Motors and, after the war, the Harley Earl Corporation. When a falling out with Earl prompted him to go freelance in 1949, Arbib contacted a previous employer, industrialist Charles Russell Feldmann. As it happened, Feldmann had just purchased Henney (for a second time) and needed help with redesigning its professional coachwork to match Packard’s new 1951 “high pockets” styling. Arbib duly signed on as a Henney consultant and de facto one-man styling staff.
The year 1956 marked the last hurrah for the “real” Packard. After that, Studebaker tried (somewhat successfully) to turn a Studebaker President into a Packard, but it was too little (literally!) too late.