1956 Packard Cars Fact Sheet
But Too Late
Something happened at Packard, something we may never really understand. Buyers didn’t enter their showrooms – even staunch Packard fans.
General Year Information
Something happened at Packard, something we may never really understand. Buyers did not enter their showrooms. As stylish as the cars were, you’d have thought there would have been immense interest, but there was hardly a tickle. Sales across the industry cooled off in 1956 at between 15%-20%, of mid market cars, but Cadillac and Lincoln sales jumped up, so one would have expected Packard’s to do as well. Instead, sales plummeted – from 55,517 down to 28,835.
The merger with Studebaker might have turned buyers off or made them hesitant to buy a Packard (with good reason, as we would see in ’57 and ’58). It did give Packard an opportunity to consolidate their revenue with a Studebaker, who sold more cars, but even that didn’t happen because Studebaker’s market area was the one hit hardest in ’56.
On July 27, 1956 Studebaker-Packard Corporation, seeking cash, entered a joint management agreement with Curtiss-Wright Corporation, who agreed to fund the cash-short corporation. Shortly thereafter, James Nance resigned as Packard’s chief executive officer. And on August 15, 1956, Packard operations in Detroit were brought to a halt. In a “death knell” decision, for 1957 and 1958, a limited range of Packards would be built off of Studebaker platforms at Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana plant. No attempt was made to move the Packard tooling or production activities from Detroit.
Rather than retain the Packard nameplate, in one more bad decision, the 1957 Studebaker-based Packard models were to be called “Clippers” leaving no doubt that there was no luxury car any more. After that stumble, the decision was reversed and the 1958 models were called “Packards”. By that time, people figured out that the re-skinned Studebakers were nothing like the ’55 and ’56 Packards, and not even up to speed with the Clippers of those years. These decisions ran off the majority of the Packard customers and did not attract any new ones.
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- DeLuxe Clipper Deluxe & Super
- Clipper Custom
- Packard Executive
- Packard Series V-8
- Packard Caribbean Series
SERIES 5640 – For 1956 the Clipper’s grille was given fine horizontal blades and a mesh type insert was installed in the front bumper “air scoop” opening. The hood and deck lid were redesigned and wrap around parking lamps were installed. The bumper guards were moved further outward, now just below the headlights. New chrome trimming and horizontal two-toning were changed from 1955.
The DeLuxe sedan was identified by a “DeLuxe” in script on front fenders and two separate side spears front and rear. The front spear ran straight from the upper grille molding to the rear edges of front doors. The second molding was positioned higher on the rear body, running from under the back ventipane to the tail lamp cluster.
Super model Clipper had “Super” in script on the front fenders, but now lacked rocker panel moldings from 1955. Two full-length rub rail moldings were used on the side of the new body. The first ran straight from mid headlamp level to the rear of the body. The second ran from the upper grille bar edge straight to the middle of the front door, then dipped to the same level as the top of the rear wheel housing in a curve. Upon hitting the foward bulge of the rear fender, this molding straightened out again and ran back to the bumper, passing right over the top of the fender skirt.
On all Clippers the rear fenders were redone and ended in a V-shaped notch called a “reverse vertical sweep” that housed ‘boomeranged’ cathedral taillights much in the style of the 1955 Packard. A more massive rear bumper was also installed, removing the last vestiges of the 1954 and earlier rear fascia.
SERIES 5660 – Clipper Customs had the “Custom” nameplate in script on the front fenders and chrome rocker panel moldings were installed to set the Custom apart from lesser Clippers. The balance of trim on Customs was similar to that used on Clipper Supers, including twin rub rails with the lower molding having a curved dip near the rear quarters.
Interior appointments were the most luxurious offered on Clippers, and the Constellation hardtop had leather as a trim option, and the headliner had standard chrome roof bows, emulating a convertible look.
SERIES 5670 – The Executive line was introduced on April 9, 1956, as a replacement for the entire Clipper Custom lineup. This car was designed to fill a marketing gap existing between the lowest priced Packard and the Clipper Deluxe. The Executive had a Packard grille and Packard-inspired side body trim, but was more closely related to the Clipper.
The 352 cubic inch 1956 Clipper V-8 was used for power and the body was the Clipper type with reverse vertical sweep fenders and taillights, although the ornamentation had a Packard look. The Executive was trimmed with two, completely straight, horizontal rub rails running from behind the headlights to ahead of the taillights. In two-tone color schemes, the area between the parallel moldings was painted to match the roof. Unlike the Packard senior cars, which they resembled, there was no vertical, simulated “vent” strip on the rear quarter of this car. Rocker panel moldings were used between the wheel openings only.
SERIES 5680 – Changes in the Packard body from the previous year included a redesigned grille with a mesh type insert having a grid work of vertical and horizontal chrome bars placed against it. Both the mesh and the grille could also be seen in the ‘air scoop” opening under the main horizontal bumper bar. Wrap around parking lamps were seen again, but had rounded rear edges. The headlamp hoods were lowered by one inch. Front fenders were extended on all Packards and Executives to make the car appear even longer.
“Packard” in block letters no longer appeared on the hood – they were replaced by a centrally mounted Packard crest. The redesigned bumper allowed the bumper guards to be spaced further apart, placing them directly under the headlights, giving the car an even wider appearance.
The Caribbean was moved to its own sub-series this year, so only the Patrician sedan and the Four-Hundred hardtop coupe remained in this series. Both had vertical “vents” on the rear fenders and both had the same arrangement of side trim. This consisted of a wide, ribbed chrome band extending the full length of the car between two horizontal rub rails. The first ‘rail’ ran from the front edge of the upper grille bar to the rear edge of the back fender; the second was parallel to it, eight inches lower.
Both moldings intersected the vent ornament and outside door courtesy/safety lamps were placed at this spot. On both cars model identification was in script, that being “Packard” and “Four Hundred”, set into the new chrome contrast panel, behind the front wheel housing. In addition, both were highlighted by bright metal body underscores which continued across the fender skirts and had wide, ribbed chrome rear extension panels.
SERIES 5580 – The Caribbean was now a separate Packard sub-series having two models; a hardtop and convertible, with Caribbean-specific styling and engineering. General styling changes from 1955 was minimal. The deeper hooded headlight look was used and the rear edge of parking lamps were rounded. “Caribbean” was once again in script, but gold as well as was the grid work in the grille insert, that was of wider squares.
The new Packard “air scoop” bumper with the center cutout revealing a portion of the grille insert was fitted. Like the Packard Line, this located the bumper guard bullets directly under the headlights. New three-tone color combinations were offered, one for example, was maroon, light blue, and ivory white The hardtop was a totally new addition and its roof had a pair of lengthwise ribs, running front to rear, one on each side.
The 1956 Caribbean convertible came with reversible seat upholstery that was brocaded on one side and leather on the other. The dual four-barrel induction system was continued on the even larger 374 CID Caribbean V-8 now with 310 HP.
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Clipper DeLuxe and Super V-8. Overhead valves. Cast iron block. Displacement: 352 CID. Bore and stroke: 4.00″ x 3.50″. Compression ratio: 9.5:1. Horsepower: 240 @ 4600 RPM. Torque 350 ft. lbs. @ 2800. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Camshaft Duration: Intake: 256°, Exhaust: 252°; Lift: Intake 0.388″, Exhaust .378″; Overlap UNK. Carburetor: Carter Type WGD two-barrel Model 2393S.
Clipper Custom and Packard Executive V-8. Overhead valves. Cast iron block. Displacement: 352 CID. Bore and stroke: 4.00″ x 3.50″. Compression ratio: 9.5:1. Horsepower: 275 @ 4600 RPM. Torque: 380 ft. lbs. @ 2800. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Camshaft Duration: Intake: 256°, Exhaust: 252°; Lift: Intake 0.388″, Exhaust .378″; Overlap UNK. Carburetor: Rochester Type 4GC four-barrel carburetor Model 6480253S.
Packard Patrician and Four Hundred V8. Overhead valves. Cast iron block. Displacement: 374 cubic inches. Bore and stroke: 4.125″ x 3.50″. Compression ratio: 10.0:1. Horsepower: 290 @ 4600 RPM. Torque: 405 ft. lbs. @ 2400. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Camshaft Duration: Intake: 256°, Exhaust: 252°; Lift: Intake 0.388″, Exhaust .378″; Overlap UNK. Carburetor: Rochester Type 4GC four-barrel Model 6480253.
Packard Caribbean V-8. Overhead valves. Cast iron block. Displacement: 374 cubic inches. Bore and stroke: 4.125″ x 3.50″. Compression ratio: 10.0:1. Horsepower: 310 @ 4800 RPM. Torque: 405 ft. lbs. @ 2400. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Camshaft Duration: Intake: 256°, Exhaust: 252°; Lift: Intake 0.388″, Exhaust .378″; Overlap UNK. Carburetors: Two Rochester Type 4GC four-barrel carburetors (front) Model 6489090; (rear) Model 6489091.
- Wheelbase: Clipper and Packard Executive – 122″, Packard – 127″.
- Overall length: Clipper and Executive – 214.8″ Packard – 218.5″.
- Front Tread: Clipper and Executive – 59.7″, Packard – 60 inches.
- Rear Tread: Clipper and Executive – 60″, Packard – 60.98″.
- Tires: Clipper and Executive – 7.60 x 15 tubeless, Packard – 8.00 x 15 tubeless.
- Torsion-Level Suspension: Standard on Clipper Custom and Packard, not available on other models, which came with conventional springs.
- Electrical System: 12-volt negative ground.
Power Train Options
- Three-speed manual transmission was standard on Clippers and Packard Executives and not available on other Packards.
- Overdrive was optional on Clippers and Executive at $110.
- Limited slip differential was optional on all models.
- Oil bath air cleaner standard on all models.
- Ultramatic Drive was standard on Packards, and optional on Clippers and the Packard Executive.
- Torsion-Level suspension was standard on all models by year-end. Conventional suspension was available, as a no-cost option, on DeLuxe models.
- Power brakes were standard on all senior Packards and optional on Clipper and Executive.
- Electronically-controlled, push button Ultramatic gear selection was standard in Caribbean, optional on all other cars with automatic transmission.
Body Paint Color Codes
Click on the Paint Code Name to See the Mix Codes for the appropriate color:
1956 Packard & Clipper
1956 Packard –
Current Market Values
- Air conditioning ($675).
- Curb feelers.
- Door edge guards.
- Drink holder and pocket pouch.
- Fog lamps.
- Heater ($80).
- License plate frames.
- Lighted vanity mirror.
- Locking gas cap door.
- Power antenna.
- Power brakes ($40).
- Power seat ($70).
- Power steering ($115).
- Power windows ($108).
- Radio ($102).
- Rain vent shades.
- Rear window defogger.
- Remote brake master cylinder filler.
- Remote spare tire filler.
- Roll-up trunk light.
- Snap-in Car-Pet mats.
- Tinted glass.
- Torsion suspension ($150).
By the end of production, all models had Torsion-Level suspension as standard equipment.
- Traffic light viewer.
- V8 engine chrome rocker arm covers.
- Wire wheel covers.
- Wonderbar radio.
Files directly related to the 1956 Packard Car Line will appear below. Click to Download:
1956 Packard & Clipper Brochure
1956 Packard Print Advertisements
1956 Clipper Print Advertisements
1956 Packard All Lines AMA Specifications Sheets
1956 Packard & Clipper Drive Test – Motor Trend Magazine
Related Images to the 1956 Packard Car Line will appear below