In 1948, Packard sales were declining against the might of GM and Ford while Carrozzeria Vignale was headed in the other direction. The Italian coachbuilder offered the possibility of revitalize the Packard line and invigorate stagnate sales. Alfredo Vignale had perfected his craft at Pinin Farina's brother's firm. When World War II came to a close, he opened his own shop. Before long, the press took notice.
In order to liven up the Packard line, seven concept cars were ordered, including this Convertible Coupe, the only Packard with Vignale coachwork. Designed by Alfredo Vignale in 1948, the innovative body is mounted on a prewar 1939 Packard One Twenty chassis. The Packard One Twenty was Packard's junior series model and the first moderately priced Packard.
The chassis was relatively inexpensive, yet dated, but the body was modern and memorable. It was done to a level of quality of a much more established coachbuilder. Up front, the hood opens on either side or can be removed altogether, in similar fashion to a factory 1948 Packard. Inside, the gauges are in kilometers, a hint to its European origin. In the back are taillights sourced from a fiat. Power is from a 282 cubic-inch straight eight offering around 120 horsepower. Coupled with the lightweight aluminum body, the Vignale Packard is certainly faster than the standard One Twenty.
Currently, the Packard is finished in black with a black convertible top. In the back there is a luggage rack that holds a suitcase.
The Vignale Company would prosper for many years. In the 1960s, a factory was built near a Fiat plant. Much of the work that followed were Vignale-bodied Fiats. As the 1960s came to close, the factory was purchased by Alejandro DeTomaso. Tragically, just three days after the sale, Alfredo Vignale perished in a car crash. The newly purchased factory was used by DeTomaso to build Panteras. In 1973, Ford acquired Ghia (a company acquired by DeTomaso just prior to its purchase of Vignale) and Vignale.
For many reasons, the Vignale Packard is a special concept. It is road legal, functional, and elegant. At the time, it showed a new styling direction for the company and the talents of Vignale.
The current caretaker of the car purchased it in 1989.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2012
Unlike General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, independent Packard lacked the financial might of its competitors. In order to provide some added cachet to its lineup and invigorate stagnating sales, Packard ordered seven concept cars, including this one-off convertible Victoria by Vignale. Alfredo Vignale opened his own coach-building shop following World War II, having learned his craft in the studio of Pinin Farina's brother. The Turin firm quickly gained prominence among Italian coachbuilders for both its workmanship and tasteful styling.
This car, the only Packard built with a body by the Italian coachbuilder Vignale, is not in the strictest sense a Packard show car. Nonetheless, it is the first purpose-built Packard that was purchased by the current owner. In 2006, he told the New York Times, 'Nobody knows much about it except the car was shipped to the Vignale studio in Turin, Italy in 1938 and hidden during WWII and then completed in 1948.' The current owner negotiated for several years before purchased the car in 1989.
The chassis is that of Packard's junior eight-cylinder line, introduced in 1935 as the '120' which indicated the wheelbase. For 1938, it was lengthened to 127 inches and was powered by a 282 cubic-inch straight-eight engine. A pre-war chassis mated to a post war body makes for an unusual driving experience, especially when one is looking over a 1938 Packard steering wheel at a 1948 Italian instrument panel. Other European touches abound, including Fiat tail light units and over-wrought trunk handles. Still, when one views a one-of-a-kind vehicle such as this, one tends to overlook such details.