Packard vehicles have always been considered to be of such high quality, that everyone who wanted one, had one. For luxury automobile makers, the summer of 1953 was a major set back.
The general public had stopped purchasing new vehicles. Figures sank as people saw little or no reason to buy newer models when their 1930 and ‘9 models continued to run smoothly.
In an attempt to use a numeric naming structure to designate Packard Motors Corporation vehicle line, the Detroit, Michigan company came up with a system to define their motor lines.
The least expensive models were designated as Packard 200, Packard 250 and the mid-range vehicles were designated the Packard 300.
The Packard Patrician 400 was label for the highest trim level available. Replacing the previous model year's Custom 8 model range, this car was easily recognizable from other Packard's by its chrome trim.
The Packard Patrician was constructed in Packard's Detroit facilities for its four years in production, and in South Bend, Indiana during model years 1955 and 1956.
During the 1951 model year, the Packard 400 featured three chrome ports on its rear fenders. The following year, the vehicle was updated to four chrome ports.
A slightly revised grille that was taken from other Packar's which included chrome ‘teeth' in the lower body of the vehicle was showcased on this series.
Outfitted with high grade upholstery and interior chrome trimming, the Patrician 400's were available only as a premium four door sedan. Forming the basis for the Packard Motors Company more custom formal sedan, it offered Wilton carpeting along with hassock style rear passenger foot rests inside the vehicle.
Powered by an admirable in-line eight cylinder engine, the vehicle rode on a 127 inch wheelbase.
During the 1951 model year production units totalled at 9,001 400 units sold and 3,975 for the following year. Though the 400 name was dropped for the next two model years, it still continued to occupy the premium trim level Packard from 1953 to 1956.
Still persisting to represent Packard's highest trim level sedans, the Patrician was also used for the model of the custom bodied Henny bodied models. For the 1953 and 1954 model years, the Patrician was used as the basis for eight-passenger Packard Patrican, hearse conversions and limousines.
The Patrician continued to receive annual trim changes and upgrades over the years.
To refresh the styling of the Packard line in 1955, the Packard 400's received a grille design that was considered to be ‘more modern'. With hooded headlight housings, cathedral-styled rear tail light and a new exterior trim layout that offered two and three tone paint combos, the 1955 model gained a sharp new look.
Newly outfitted with a wrap-around windshield, making it more in line with American automobiles of the times, the new trim at the base of the rear pillar made it seem like a new redesigned roof line.
The Patrician was available as a four-door sedan, and also came with a freshened interior that included a new dashboard layout.
Packard produced 9,127 of these vehicles for the 1955 model year.
The 1956 model came with a different grille texture, and a revised headlight housing that would exaggerate the front peak forward. Painted black around the area surrounding the headlight, it gave the illusion of a much more prominent depth perception.
3,375 of the 1956 models were producced before the model was dropped.
Packard production was eliminated at the Detroit factory and transferred to Studebaker's South Bend complex in Indiana for the 1957 model year.
The last Packard mdels ever made, June 25, 1956 marked the end of Packard. The Packards have always retained their reputation for quality and excellence.
Part of the reason people held on to their Packard vehicle for so long was due to the quality of the vehicle. Packard's were the ultimate cars in both luxury and comfort.By Jessica Donaldson