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Seeking My Clipper's History
#1
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Craig the Clipper Man
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I own a 1955 Packard Clipper Custom Constellation (5567) that I purchased near Richmond, VA in June 2012. This is a lovely car in great condition. Since mechanically and cosmetically it needs little attention, I decided to undertake a project to discover the history of the car -- when it left the Packard factory, the name of the dealership where it was sold new, the name of the car's first and subsequent buyers, and any other facts related to the car.

I realize that this is not going to be an easy project. Online VIN search engines usually go back no more than 20 to 25 years, which won't help me since my car is 57 years old! I must contend with privacy issues related to information about VIN releases. I have sought information from one of the previous owners, a gentleman in Minnesota who bought and restored it to its current condition, but he never replied by to me. Neither did a request to the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles for information.

So, if any of you folks out there have conducted similar searches, please let me know any methods or tips that led to success. Thank you.

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Posted on: 2012/12/18 9:47
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#2
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BigKev
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I was able to track my car's history back into the 70's, but no further. Usually it starts with asking the last owner who they bought it from, and then contacting them. Then rinse and repeat. The problem I had was eventually I got to the point where the next previous owner in the chain was deceased, so no further information could be gathered. Most DMVs will not have records going back before the 90s. So best bet is to see if the car was ever in one of the PAC or PI rosters. That may at least help.

Posted on: 2012/12/18 12:37
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#3
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Kevin AZ
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BigKev provides some valuable information. The rosters at PAC can provide good information often times. Stuart Blond maintains the roster for all 55-56 V-8's at PAC and he has always been helpful to me.

If you are VERY lucky try contacting or writing your State DMV Central office. I found records on my 1955 400 all the way back to the early 60's. These records were on microfilm and it took a staff person to locate and then print them for me. I paid some nominal fee as I recall, but I was glad to locate the information which I cherish.

Posted on: 2012/12/18 12:58
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#4
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Craig the Clipper Man
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This is good information, guys. I have tried to contact the owner of the car during the 1980s, but he has not replied. It may be that he is dead, but he seemed a little young for that outcome. I know that he bought the car in Albuquerque, NM in 1982 and that he maintained very good records of how he restored a car described in an early note as "a parts car." He obviously did not see it as such.

Among his records I found a worn receipt for maintenance performed on the car in April of 1962, but I cannot read much on the receipt due to missing pieces, which includes the name of the owner of the car at that time.

About a week ago I wrote a letter to the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles requesting information (after an earlier e-mail request wasn't answered). I have not heard back from them, but I am not giving up hope.

I am a member of PAC and I will contact Stuart Blond as you suggested. This is a lot like detective work.

Posted on: 2012/12/18 13:48
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#5
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Craig the Clipper Man
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Does anyone out there know where I might find the production records (i.e. when cars were finished) via their VIN numbers? I would think there must be some kind of record source. Also, didn't Packard list which dealerships received new cars via their VIN numbers? Is this where Stuart Blond gets his information? Packard had to keep records of these things ...

Posted on: 2012/12/19 10:18
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#6
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Owen_Dyneto
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Much of Stuart Blond's data came from copies of the original factory build slips and/or shipping orders which do exist for some of the 55/56 models, some at the Studebaker museum and others in private hands. Data is not available for all the various 55/56 models, or at least it hasn't surfaced yet. There are a few (very few) small private collections of individual dealer records; I've had access to quite a few of these but none for 1955 and 1956.

Posted on: 2012/12/19 10:26
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
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JWL
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MrBumble, that is a most attractive Clipper Constellation you have. Congratulations. Gayle Roberts was the Packard dealer in Albuquerque in the 1950s and maybe his dealership sold the Constellation when it was new. After 1954 there was a major reorganization of the dealer network with may long-time dealers not getting their franchises renewed, but I believe Roberts continued as a Packard dealer until the end. Maybe this will help. Good luck on your search.

(o{}o)

Posted on: 2012/12/19 12:47
We move toward
And make happen
What occupies our mind... (W. Scherer)
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#8
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Craig the Clipper Man
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Owen, JW:

Thank you for this information. This is not going to be easy due to the time gap, but I will continue to post my progress so that it might be useful for others who want to find out about their cars.

Posted on: 2012/12/19 13:27
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#9
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Owen_Dyneto
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MrBumble, I don't know if you've read either of my two papers on researching the correlation between vehicle numbers and the body-dash or thief-proof numbers, but I'm continuing with the work and would very much appreciate getting your VN, thief-proof number, and if possible the Utica engine and transmission number. The 1955/56 numbers are proving particularly challenging to make sense of and more data is needed. If you want to keep them confidential, just let me know and provide them via a PM. Thanks.

I wish you good luck in tracking down your car's history of ownership, having it can add a lot to the enjoyment of the car and can make you feel more like a caretaker of a piece of history in addition to being an owner. I'm very fortunate, I bought both of my Packards from the original owners and was fortunate in meeting both of them, and knowing one of them rather well for some years before I bought the car.

Posted on: 2012/12/19 15:03
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Re: Seeking My Clipper's History
#10
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Craig the Clipper Man
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While I am trying to search for information, there are a few things that are a little disheartening. I have sent letters and e-mails to governement agencies and to the New Mexico Packards club and no one has replied. And I sent these out almost a month before Christmas. I guess I shouldn't gripe ... just got to be patient!


Posted on: 2012/12/26 12:31
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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