AJ’s Car of the Day: 1956 Packard 400

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1956 Packard 400

Car: Packard 400

Year: 1956

What makes it special: Packard 400 was built by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana during model years 1955 and 1956. During its two years in production, the Four Hundred was built in Packard’s Detroit facilities, and considered part of Packard’s senior model range. For 1955 the Four Hundred name was re-employed by Packard and assigned to the automaker’s senior model range two-door hardtop. Visual cues that helped to easily identify the 400 included a full color band along the lower portion of the car topped by a partial color band that truncated along the rear edge of the front doors. “The Four Hundred” in gold anodized script adorned the band between the front wheel well and door edge.

What made it famous: Changes to the 1956 Four Hundred followed those changes to the entire senior Packard line as it attempted to further distance itself from their Clipper model, which was now its own marque in 1956. The Four Hundred shared its body and chassis with the more expensive, new-for-’56 Caribbean hardtop. All ’56 senior Packard’s moved the Packard crest to the front of the hood, leaving the “Circle-V” emblem in the grille looking somewhat bare. Power was increased as the V8 was enlarged from 352 to 374 cubic inches, with a corresponding upgrade in horsepower ratings. A new electronic push-button control for the Ultramatic automatic transmission was offered as an option on the Four Hundred, the push-buttons located on a pod mounted via a stalk off the steering column. Although sophisticated, it proved troublesome. A simpler column-mounted selector was standard.

Why I would want one: It has a different style than all other manufacturer offerings of those years, plus it’s not your average, ordinary car. It’s great for those who want something “different.”

Fun fact: In 1956, Studebaker-Packard’s financial position deteriorated to the point where the automaker could no longer afford the luxury of maintaining two distinct makes of cars produced in two distinct facilities.

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