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1956 Packard Clipper
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I was inspired by the results achieved by Jason on his barn find Packard 200, which superficially looked a lot worse than my recently-acquired Clipper. Having done the rounds of the usual repairers, and being given frightening estimates of A$25K++ to redo the paintwork, I have opted to approach the decrepit paintwork problem differently and will have a go at cleaning up the original interior myself.

The Clipper is a 1956 Deluxe (standard) model with the Twin Ultramatic auto transmission, Torsion ride suspension and LSD. It was imported new in Right Hand Drive into Australia by Kellow-Falconer, the Rolls Royce - and long standing Packard - dealers in Melbourne. When the car was about 30 years old (mid-80s), it was restored cosmetically and repainted dark blue (Packard Blue?). It was originally yellow with a white roof. The dark blue suits it well. I plan to keep it the same colour to simplify paintwork options. It appears that it underwent quite a bit of mechanical work about ten years ago. Everything still works as it should and it drives extremely well. The Torsion ride suspension is a real revelation.

The main cosmetic issue now is the paintwork, which is showing its age with quite a bit of crazing on top of the fenders and some bubbling on the left lower rear guard. The best paint is on the trunk and hood lids (boot and bonnet in our parlance). A couple of the side window glasses are beginning to delaminate, but not bad enough to replace yet, and the interior is pretty tired but fundamentally sound. It's fitted with a local radio which still seems to work and a local Smiths heater of unknown state. It has a modern radio fitted inside the glove compartment.

I will try to get some pics to illustrate the "before" state. Meanwhile, the car is quite usable. It is historic registration here, and being driven regularly.

Brian

Posted on: 2019/5/22 3:44
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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Here's a few pics of the Clipper as she is now. Paintwork worse than it looks in the pics. Will try to get decent shot of the interior tomorrow.

Brian

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Posted on: 2019/5/22 4:22
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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A pic of the engine bay - not bad at all!

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Posted on: 2019/5/22 4:25
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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Sorry, should have mentioned the first pic is of the car not long after it was repainted. Doesn't look like that now! Brian

Posted on: 2019/5/22 4:32
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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Thanks for posting the photo of the engine compt. I see three differences right away.

There has been an electric windshield wiper motor added and it looks to be a nice install with a different motor location. The torsion level solenoids have been moved from their US location under the fender and another box for what appears to be some electrical item has been installed on the air duct on the right fender.

Do you have any history of those changes as to if they were made by the importing agent or a previous owner? Any other photos of the engine compt showing how they did the steering and pedal conversions?

You also mentioned a different heater was installed because of the RHD. Is that an all in one unit located under the dash like the prewar or aftermarket hang on heaters and is it fully integrated like the factory units with the regular dash knobs controlling temp, fresh air and heater/defroster selection?

Posted on: 2019/5/22 7:48
Howard
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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You may find this interesting if you haven't seen it before. I don't recall if it's mentioned in the article but as I recall the heater unit used in these RHD conversions was similar to the 1947 Clipper unit.

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Posted on: 2019/5/22 8:09
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper Pics
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Thanks Dave. I may have that article somewhere but forgot about it.

Right off I see a couple of differences in the dash on the UK RHD article and the Australian conversion. The switch layout is different, most noticeable with the ign key location and the UK radio appears more like the US version. I believe but won't swear to it that UK has different frequencies from the US and would also need a compatible radio installed just like the Australian conversion.

Wonder if either dash layout was factory suggested or was it left to the importing agent to make their changes per what the country preferences might have been. One thing I have found interesting in the RHD conversions is there didn't seem to be a fixed location for the steering column components and particularly the gear selector. Some have posted photos of their cars where the shift lever was positioned on the left but on the Aus. and UK 56 Clippers they are both on the right.

Posted on: 2019/5/22 8:52
Howard
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper
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That's pretty cool. They made the wipers a modern bell crank.

Posted on: 2019/5/22 9:27
Riki
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper
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Lots of input. Thanks guys!

You have spotted things I did not notice - or wasn't aware of.

It looks fairly certain that this car was one of a bath of right hand drive assembled in Detroit in 1956. Unlike UK - where left hand drive cars could be registered then - it was not possible to do that in Australia.

Overseas built cars were typically imported here in right hand drive configuration, whereas as they say in the UK road test story it was optional there to convert from left hand drive and was done locally. I do not know for sure, but have been told by somebody who should know, that about 12 Packards were imported into Australia in 1956 (several of which were Clippers) and all were right hand drive.

At that time, it was typical for imported cars to be fitted with a local radio (which it is) and heater unit (local Smiths unit hung under the dash and connected to the normal controls). As for the other changes, I'm not sure. I do know that the RHD cars imported here were generally not fitted with power steering, presumably because of space issues. My car does have the Torsion ride suspension - which works really well - but I don't know what changes might have been made to convert it to right hand drive. There are dash layout differences between my car and the one tested in the UK. Also, the fuel and temperature gauges are reversed on my dash, which is otherwise a perfect mirror image of the left hand drive car according to the owner's manual.

I have not yet delved into what lies underneath related to the right hand drive configuration. Will get some pics for those who are curious when it's next on a hoist.

I'm wondering whether the change to wiper operation might be related to a different swept pattern needed for right hand drive cars?

You probably understand now why I'm anxious to preserve this car. It has escaped the scrapyard so far and definitely worth preserving.

Cheers

Brian

Posted on: 2019/5/23 1:23
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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Re: 1956 Packard Clipper
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Today I got out the rubbing compound and had a go at the only two good expanses of paint on the car - the trunk and hood (boot and bonnet in our lingo). Also took to the vinyl in the interior on the seats and door trims. Thirty years of grime came off. Not bad condition. Need a few stitches here and there. Here's a few pics of progress so far. It will get harder from here! Next will be some touch up paint to fill all the chips - mainly on the front of the hood.

Cheers

Brian

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Posted on: 2019/5/23 3:24
1941 120 Club Coupe (SOLD)
1956 Clipper Deluxe (RHD and auto) - for the wife, or so I told her!
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