- Packard’s exclusive midcentury convertible; one of only 750 Caribbeans produced for 1953
- Elegant colors of Matador Maroon Metallic over a maroon and white interior; white convertible top
- Features an Ultramatic transmission, power top and windows, power brakes, and wire wheels with rear continental kit; styling cues include one-year-only radiused rear wheel arches
- Wears a wonderfully preserved restoration completed under prior ownership
- A dignified, yet sporting, Packard ideal for club events or driving enjoyment
The Packard Motor Car Company was not known for sporty cars—indeed, its sterling reputation was built by machines of an entirely different nature. Yet by the early 1950s, it was experimenting with the very of-the-moment sportscar concept, resulting in the striking 1952 Pan American show car. Six Pan Americans were eventually commissioned by Packard and built by Henney, but the long, low, and lean show-stand stunner (which lacked practicalities such as a rear seat and featured costly “sectioned” bodywork) was deemed a bit too far afield for the automaker, and it was never greenlit for full production.
The Pan American did, however, lead directly to the Packard Caribbean, which worked many of the show car’s distinctive styling cues into a more practical package. Mitchell-Bentley of Ionia, Michigan (rather than Henney) was tasked with building these “factory custom” cars, which received special flared wheel openings, “senior” horizontal taillamps, a marked lack of side chrome, and a hood with a prominent, full-width scoop.
Beneath that hood sat Packard’s 327-cubic-inch inline-eight engine, here producing 180 horsepower and plenty of torque thanks to a four-barrel carburetor. Paired with Packard’s Ultramatic transmission, this powertrain afforded respectable performance, smoothly delivered. Power brakes helped bring the substantial car to a sure stop. Further power features included the hydraulically actuated top and windows.
The Caribbean’s substantial $5,210 price tag and limited run of just 750 for 1953 ensured that it was, and remains, a highly exclusive automobile. While production continued in 1954 (with an all-new model arriving for 1955), the 1953 Caribbean—a wonderful Matador Maroon Metallic over maroon and white example of which is offered here—received special, one-year-only styling touches; most notable are radiused, skirt-less rear wheel arches highlighted by subtle brightwork. Whitewall-wrapped Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and a standard rear continental kit complete the car’s look (an additional spare is in the trunk).
Acquired by the consignor in 2020, this Caribbean wears a well-maintained restoration completed by previous owner John Ball, an enthusiast in the American Southwest. It is said to have provided him with many miles of driving enjoyment during his ownership tenure. An electric fuel pump aids in starting, and an auxiliary oil gauge has been fitted below the dash. The car was carefully maintained under previous ownership, including service to the hydraulic pump that powers the windows and top to ensure smooth operation, while the brake system was rebuilt under the care of the consignor.
Exclusive when new and an even rarer sight today, this beautiful Caribbean is ready to offer its next owner the quiet, confident, and thoroughly enjoyable luxury experience for which Packard is still known the world over. It is accompanied by restoration and service invoices from 1991 to 2022.