The Packard Caribbean
was a halo vehicle
produced by the Packard Motor Car Company
of Detroit, Michigan
during model years 1953 through 1956. Some of the Caribbean's styling was derived from the Pan American Packard show car of the previous year. Produced only as a convertible from 1953 to 1955, the Caribbean added a hardtop model in its final year of 1956.
Introduced as part of the Packard Cavalier
model range, the 1953 Caribbean
was perhaps Packard’s most easily identified car because of its full cutout rear wheel housing and side trim, limited to a chrome band outline that stretched the entire length of the car. The band also helped to further delineate the car's wheel openings. A steel continental spare tire was also standard. The hood featured a broad, low leaded-in hood scoop. Bodies for the Caribbean were modified by Mitchell-Bentley Corporation of Ionia, Michigan
. Available "advertised" colors for the car were limited to Polaris Blue, Gulf Green Metallic, Maroon Metallic or Sahara Sand. However, a mere handful of special-ordered cars were built in Ivory or Black.
Interiors of the Caribbean were richly upholstered in leather. Most Caribbeans were also generously optioned, although the Ultramatic transmission and power windows were optional cost items on the first year model.
At total of 750 Caribbeans were built for the first model year, and these cars are highly sought after as collectible cars in the current collectible automobile market. Restored cars regularly sell in the six-figure range.
Beginning in 1954 the Caribbean was elevated to senior Packard status. The Caribbean continued to have its own unique styling features, however the full rear-wheel cut-outs were eliminated and the use of chrome/stainless trim became more liberal, and allowed for two-tone paint combinations. Like the Patrician, the Caribbean also gained heavier "finned" headlight housings, one of the visual cues applied to help differentiate the senior Packard’s from their lower priced brethren. The straight eight senior engine was used in this final incarnation of Packard's straight eight engine. A total of only 400 Caribbeans were produced for the model year, making 1954 the rarest year for the Caribbean.
Model year 1955 saw the Caribbean line, now with V8 engine, fully adopt the Senior Packard line styling; the car was also available in two or three-tone paint patterns. The single hood scoop was split into two units. The car also received Packard's torsion level suspension. Production for 1955 stood at 500 units.
For 1956, the Caribbean was broken out into its own luxury series, and gained a hardtop model. Trim differences between the 1955 and 1956 cars were slight. Grille textures changed, and matched the ones used on concurrent Patricians, and the rear treatment, featuring Packard's cathedral style taillights also continued. The headlights also received slightly more exaggerated hoods. Total model year production equaled 263 hardtops and 276 convertibles. The model was discontinued when Packard production ended in Detroit.
The car pictured is a 5699 1956 convertible.
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.
George, Vance- The Packard Club 53-54 Caribbean Roster Keeper