1953 PACKARD CARIBBEAN CONVERTIBLE NO 14
- 1 OF ONLY 750 Packard Caribbean convertibles produced in 1953
- 327 cid / 180 HP inline 8 cylinder engine 1953 MSRP $5,210.00
- Power Brakes Power Convertible Top
- Automatic Transmission Continental Kit
- Packard chromed wire wheels Wide whitewall radial tires
- Exclusive Black exterior Green over Black Leather interior
- Chrome wheel cut-out moldings extending from front to rear.
“If Sinatra had driven a Caribbean, the song may well have been “Come Float with Me.” Introduced in 1953, the Caribbean was an exclusive model produced only in the convertible motif and available in a limited colour palet.” Although 750 Caribbeans were built in 1953, less than 12 of those were graced to carry the colour black making this an extremely rare car even in 1953.
Designed by Richard “Dick” Teague, the “Caribbeans were replete with power amenities and acres of leather and carefully emboldened styling, setting them apart from other North American luxury models of the era… Caribbeans moved in virtual silence and floated across the pavement creating a motoring experience like few others. Packard had long produced some of the finest cars ever built and the `53 Caribbean was one of the high water marks from the company. This one has undergone an extensive concours-quality restoration and is powered by the proper 327 / 180 HP straight- 8 engine fed by a 4-barrel carburetor and backed by an automatic transmission… this Packard is easily identified as a top-shelf Caribbean.”
The Lang Collection is proud to add this very rare example of post-war Packard excellence to the pre-war Packards we have in the collection.
1953 Packard Caribbean Convertible
Having survived the financial desolation of the Great Depression, Packard Motors emerged into the post-WWII period trying to relocate their market. Times had changed. For the first forty years of its existence, Packard was the number one designer and producer of luxury automobiles in North America. Their target market was the upscale elite. Packard was among the most profitable single line auto producers in America. But by the 1950’s sales began to fall as the corporation seemed trapped in pre-war designs and not having one of the hot selling new V-8 engines for their flagship models. While still outselling Cadillac as late as 1950, Packard needed a new and compelling direction to bring new customers to the nameplate. The New York International Motors Sports Show of 1952 gave Packard a glimpse of that direction with the unveiling of the Pan American concept car. The outstanding reaction to this project led to the design and introduction of the iconic Packard Caribbean in 1953.
The 1953 Packard Caribbean was built on the Cavalier chassis after it was pulled from the line in Detroit and sent to Iona MI. There the Caribbean body was fabricated the old fashioned way by master coach builders Mitchel-Bentley who had also fabricated the woody panels on the 1949 Chrysler Town and Country (see The Lang Collection) and would in the future fabricate fiberglass bodies for the 1963 – 67 Corvette bodies (See The Lang Collection)
The `53 Caribbean featured a much sportier look than the regular Packard. It would lack the bright-work and trim on the side of the car and feature full wheel cut-outs and rocker panels trimmed in chrome. Although a limited run of only 750 vehicles, the Caribbean still out sold the comparable Cadillac El Dorado and Oldsmobile Feista. Of those produced less than fourteen would come in special order Black which gave a striking contrast to the chrome. This is indeed a rare example of a very special car. With wide white wall tires of the time encasing special Packard chromed wheel covers, special black and green leather seats, power roof, and a special Continental Kit this particular Caribbean proudly shows why it outsold the competition in 1953.
But alas, after one year as the preeminent convertible in North America, the accountants at Packard decided to save money by keeping the production in house, getting rid of those expensive rear wheel cut-outs, add some profit-earning chrome thus taking away the sporty look that had driven sales in 1953. The “old Packard” was rearing its ugly head once again reminding us of Fred Duesenberg’s comment in 1920’s that “the problem with American cars is that too much engineering is done by the purchasing dept.” It seems old lessons have to be relearned every generation!
The 1953 Caribbean was Packard’s last gasp at greatness. After consolidating with Studebaker and being moved from Detroit to South Bend in 1956, Packard ceased operation on its own in 1958. Another of the giants of North American auto history was gone but it was GREAT while it lasted. And we have been left with this iconic 1953 black Caribbean convertible to remember those days.