Monday, November 6, 2017

When Clipper was a Car Brand

The Clipper name was associated with the Packard brand off and on from the 1942 model year through the 1956 year, after which Packards became glorified Studebakers.  For most of those years there was a Clipper nameplate.  But for 1956 only, Clipper became an actual brand, and not just the name of a Packard model.

This had to do with James Nance's mid-1950s strategy of re-establishing Packard as a true luxury brand, as it was during most of the first 40 years of its existence.  The brand got watered down when a mid-price line was introduced in a successful survival effort during the Great Depression.  Post- World War 2, Packard was in a position similar to that of Chrysler, being largely an upper-middle brand with a few luxury models on the side.

The captions for the images below continue the story.


This is the first Packard Clipper, a radical break from the marque's previous, rather old-fashioned designs.  It appeared during the 1941 model year, but is considered a 1942 model.

The Packard Clipper name continued after the war for the 1946 and 1947 model years.  For 1948, Packards were given a major facelift and the Clipper name was dropped.  Pictured here is a 1947 Packard Clipper Touring Sedan in a for-sale photo.

The Clipper model name was revived for 1953.  Above is a Packard Clipper Touring Sedan.  Its side trim differs from that of higher-priced Packards.

For 1954, Packard Clippers became even more visually distinctive.

The grille was almost the same as those of senior Packards, but Packard Clippers were given a different rear fender and tail light treatment.  Pictured here and in the previous photo is a Packard Clipper Panama hardtop.

Facelifted 1955 Packard Clippers received a distinctive set of thin, vertical bars on its grille as well as chrome trim providing two-tone paint schemes that differed from other Packards.  The rear fender style was carried over from 1954.

Clipper became a separate brand for the 1956 model year only.  The promotional material above compares Packard and Clipper grilles.  Both retain the traditional Packard upper frame theme, but the Clipper again has bars instead of a grid pattern.  The Packard crest was dropped for 1955 and the ship's wheel substituted.

Two views of a for-sale 1956 Clipper Super Panama showing the Clipper side two-tone scheme.  The taillights and rear fenders are restyled.

Packard extended its 1956 line with the Packard Executive model slotted between Clippers and regular Packards.  The Executive had the Packard grille, the Clipper's rear fender design, and its own two-tone paint scheme.

An example of a standard 1956 Packard is this 400 hardtop.  Hyman auctions photo.

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