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1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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2009/11/17 7:51
From Detroit, MI
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Based on one-off '53 Mayfair with Caribbean rear and '54 trim that some of you might be familiar with. The work-up depicts a 127 wb hardtop sedan with overall length of 225-9/32 inches, competitive with 60 Special. What if Nance for '54 had chosen to tool Caribbean rear fenders instead of Clipper sore thumbs, and use them to go after Cadillac with a fully in-house built convertible, hardtop coupe and hardtop sedan. Sedan would need a 5 inch longer hardtop roof that was either new tooled or lengthened using coupe stamping. 1955 would get the V8, 1956 an all-new body?

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jpg  1954 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Sedan 127 WB bw.jpg (95.51 KB)
2060_5e7ea7e8005da.jpg 1026X560 px

Posted on: 3/27 18:27:03
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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Here's a match-up with '54 60 Special. This work-up lowers Packard's window sills an inch and puts the handles on the doors, which is the execution that Reinhart had wanted for the '51 cars. By 1954 it would have really helped keep Packard competitive with Cadillac's airy greenhouse.

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jpg  54 Caribbean Hardtop Sedan lowered sills vs 54 60 Special.jpg (75.22 KB)
2060_5e7eb19cab611.jpg 1390X374 px

Posted on: 3/27 19:00:21
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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And finally... '54 Caribbean's brochure copy spoke directly to this type of car. Only needed "sedan" added in a few places as shown. Of course, leather would not have been the only interior material offered.

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jpg  1954 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Sedan 127 WB Brochure bw.jpg (112.50 KB)
2060_5e7eb7e1a5ef5.jpg 1026X619 px

Posted on: 3/27 19:36:01
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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I'm going to vote not worth the tooling cost. The oxymoronic "hardtop sedan" has frameless door glass but a B-pillar, and a big one at that. A real four door hardtop at the 55 restyle.

Posted on: 3/28 3:15:45
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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I love it! By the 1953 model year, Packard badly needed new models that would be considered 'fresh and exciting' to attract more buyers, it couldn't wait until 1955. Hardtops were all the rage, a four door version was almost guaranteed to be a major hit. The pillared hardtop-sedan was a first step to the fully B-pillarless four door hardtop to follow.

To see how well it could have succeeded, look at the 1955 Mercury Montclair sport sedan which arrived mid-season, quickly sold 20,624 cars, 18% of all four door '55 Mercurys. For 1956, a total of 74,473 of both the four door sport sedans and hardtop "Phaetons", 24% of 1956 total sales. By comparison, the regular four door sedan dropped to 15.9%. The sport sedan and the four door hardtop were both based on the body series that began with 1952

Being a leader in a popular new body style could only have done them good. Check the immediate popularity of the '55 GM four door hardtops to see what an untapped market was ready for the taking.

Steve

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png  '55 Montclair sport sedan promo crop.png (407.46 KB)
409_5e7f54317154c.png 1000X611 px

Posted on: 3/28 6:42:27
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Proud 1953 Clipper Deluxe owner.
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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considering your point on a transition sedan with frameless doors, then I'd suggest the trailing edge of the front doors be extended to eliminate the double gap, and a stainless applique on the B-Pillar. The thick, painted B-pillar looks dowdy to me - a weakness of all Packard postwar sedans.

Posted on: 3/28 7:09:29
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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Only thing I never liked about a hardtop is they are prone to leak around the tops of the doors etc..

Posted on: 3/28 9:31:49
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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Great points all.

I share ptv's misgiving about leakage. The rear door window's curve at top would have made a spring-loaded cover like the front all but impossible, which probably would have led to a fixed channel solution like hardtop coupe, which would have meant the rear window would have needed to open slightly every time the door was opened. I think we can all agree that fixed window frames would have been the best solution. They could have still been made to look hardtop-like, see Nash Golden Airflyte.

Steve has always advocated for a longer rear overhang and deck on Senior Packards and select Juniors. The Caribbean accomplished this for the fenders but not the decklid and it is here where Nance needed to take action especially after watching Cadillac give Coupe de Ville the 60 Special's long deck for 1952. As it was a Caribbean customer had to reach 9 inches further to grab things in the trunk and even this required that they stand to one side of the rear mount.

So with all of this in mind here's an update to what would correctly be called Sport Sedan. It has fixed chrome window frames, a chrome-covered B-pillar per bkazmer that I was able to skinny up a bit because its no longer a hardtop, elimination of rear mount and lengthening of deck. My pixel count says Caribbean's rear fenders were lengthened somewhere in neighborhood of 4 inches over Patrician. With its rear fenders now tucked back in the overall length would have been around 220.5 inches, which is a bit light vs 60 Special but commendable nonetheless and the continental spare could have still be offered as an option.

I think Nance needed to make some hard decisions for '54. He needed to rein in Packard even as he expanded into the luxury market, so this was definitely not the time to continue turning Clipper into its own brand. That said, with no sore thumb fenders Clipper would have needed something to freshen it. Seems to me the easiest solution would have been to use Patrician's rear fender stamping, trimmed back 5 inches. With bulls-nuts taillights, Clipper’s status would have marginally increased and the car would have looked a little different from previous year. All fine but the 2-door club sedan would have needed dropped because there was no bulls-nuts coupe fender available. Nor would there have been a Panama. Austerity and cost containment at the low end would have needed to be the order of the day.

Cavalier and Patrician also needed to take a haircut, in fact one could argue they needed scalped. Definitely no new backlight, instead use of Clipper's. With the 122 Clipper sedan and 127 P/C sedans now looking almost identical except for a 5 inch wheelbase difference, seems they could have all been grouped under one name. Clipper, Cavalier, Patrician, Panama… somebody roll the dice. As a bonus the 149 wb car would already have these design cues. The entire series could have used '54 Cavalier's side trim that year and '54 Patrician's side trim for '55, the big news being the V8. 1956 would have seen an all-new car paid for in part by a hoped for more financially healthy 1954.


5/1 EDIT: lowered the Pan Am-style hood to standard height. Production Caribbean series (5-10K sales per year) could not have afforded the hand labor needed to modify each hood).

Attach file:



jpg  1954 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Sedan 127 WB Alt 6.jpg (95.38 KB)
2060_5e8546b3add23.jpg 1026X560 px

Posted on: 3/28 16:06:54
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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Joined:
2008/10/10 7:29
From grand rapids, mi, usa
Posts: 1071
It looks pretty competitive for 54 - only the windshield shape seems dated. The chrome pillar and window frames lighten the green house mass.
While to me it is completely disfunctional, the extended deck and overhang make sense in the market of the time.
Completely agree that the 2 dr sedan had to go.

Posted on: 3/28 17:28:02
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Re: 1953/4 Caribbean 4-door hardtop sedan exploration
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Fair enough. Interestingly, Packard's designers - who many times during the post-war era had been thwarted by Engineering in significant ways - did not want to do the wrapped windshield for '55, preferring the existing ones.

Please bear with me as I run through the other proposals. Here's a look at suggested '55 traditional cars knowing that the 149 sedan would have been extinct. Let's assume a few Henney bodies were left over from '54 and sold as '55 models with all of that year's updates including Utica V8, Twin-Ultramatic and integrated A/C.

Would Packard have bothered with its Gen 1 Torsion-Level for one year only? Quite possibly. The 5 year old body would have needed all the marketing help it could get and it would have been a good opportunity for the engineers to field test the new technology.

In looking at these three models it occurs to me that perhaps the 122 wb 4-door Clipper with vertical taillights could have been kept in the line-up, name and all, as the showroom cost leader and with Packard's lowest spec interior. The 2-door Clipper could have also been kept if it made financial sense. Were all this the case then maybe the series below could have been offered only with Patrician level interior trim and carried that name.

Attach file:



jpg  1955 Packard Patrician V8 122 WB.jpg (81.34 KB)
2060_5e862692664fc.jpg 1262X573 px

jpg  1955 Packard Patrician V8 127 WB.jpg (81.70 KB)
2060_5e86269ba415c.jpg 1262X573 px

jpg  1955 Packard Patrician V8 149 WB.jpg (78.53 KB)
2060_5e8626a67f97b.jpg 1262X573 px

Posted on: 3/28 18:59:06
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