Monday, June 13, 2016

The Packard Predictor That (Sadly) Didn't Predict

Packard was a dying brand in 1956.  The last "true" Packards were still being built, but 1957 models would be based on Studebakers.  Still, a flicker of hope appeared in the form of the Predictor show car.  There are several Web sites that have posted about the Predictor (just Google on Packard Predictor), and this is one of those containing useful background information.

For me, the most frustrating aspect of the Predictor is that something like it might have revived the Packard brand in the luxury market.  That's because it was an example of a restrained 1950s style, unlike the direction Cadillac, Lincoln and Imperial took over the next few years.

The Packard Predictor still exists.  You can find it in the Studebaker museum in South Bend, Indiana.


It's a little hard to make it out, but the top of the vertical bar at the front is shaped in the form of the traditional Packard radiator grille.  Since this protrusion is susceptible to damage, a production version would probably have to be modified in some manner.  The horizontal swaths are a Richard Teague motif introduced on 1955 Packards.  This grooved version works well.

Tail fins were becoming a styling fad, especially after the introduction of the 1957 Chrysler Corporation line.  The Predictor's are fairly tastefully done.  The tail lights are exaggerated versions of those on 1955 and 1956 Packards.

Side views showing the theme of angled continuation lines.  Note in the lower image that the C-pillar edges converge (by extension) to the lower endpoint of the horizontal side grooved strip.  The character line along the side begins at the front bumper and terminates in the rear bumper ensemble.

The Predictor has a wrap-around / wrap-over windshield, something that would appear on all General Motors cars for 1959.  But by 1960-1961, panoramic windshields were on the way out.  This might have caused Packard some trouble had something like the Predictor entered production.  But perhaps not a great amount of trouble, because reversion to a conventional windshield design would not have destroyed the appearance of the car.

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