1957-1958 Packardbaker

Creating the 1957-1958 Packardbaker

Thus, Nance's plan for a new line of Predictor-based Packards perished -- but there were still several blind alleys to be explored before the advent of the Packardbakers.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The Packardbaker weighed 3650 pounds and listed at $3384. Production came in at just 869 units.

"Mr. Nance was a good friend of Ernie Breech of Ford," McRae continued. "He approached Breech to find if it would be possible to purchase bodies from Ford and, with our unique front and rear sheetmetal and mechanicals, save the day for Studebaker-Packard. Both Ford and Lincoln shells were considered, for the Studebaker and Packard, respectively. Evidently Mr. Breech was willing to consider this proposal, but wanted to know what our products would look like using the Ford bodies. So he sent 1/10th-size drawings of the yet-to-be-introduced all-new Ford lines to Mr. Nance, and Dick Teague and I had drawing boards set up in an office next to Nance to make illustrations of both the Studebaker and Packard for presentation to Mr. Breech."

This was an extraordinary development in those days of styling rivalry and secrecy, and incidentally gives lie to the theory, often expounded, that Nance was a pariah to his Detroit colleagues. In any event, it proved impossible: "It must have been Breech's decision to end the project," said McRae, "because as we learned later, the 1957 Ford and our Studebaker proposal had too much in common appearance-wise."

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1957 Packard Clipper station wagon rode the same 116.5-inch wheelbase as the Studebaker wagons.

This refusal set the stage for Dick Teague, veteran of what he calls "the last days in the bunker," to salvage some semblance of a Packard automobile. On August 20, 1956, with Hurley in the chair, the S-P board chose the worst-case scenario. "It was the same old story," Teague remembers. "Teague, we need a Packard based on Stude bodies. You have three dollars to do the job and we need prototypes in half an hour." In reality, Dick was given three months, and likely they let him have at least $500 to work with! Even so, it delayed the announcement of the 1957 Packard until January of that year.

Sales wanted two Packards, so they got a four-door sedan riding the President Classic's 120.5-inch wheelbase and a four-door wagon based on the 116.5-inch Provincial. Engineering, under the resourceful Gene Hardig, thought it right to power both cars with Studebaker's best engine: the Golden Hawk's Paxton-supercharged 289 V-8. It developed a rousing 275 horsepower, coincidentally the same rating as the '56 Clipper's V-8. The excellent Borg-Warner "Flightomatic" transmission was made standard, as was the Packard-originated "Twin Traction" limited-slip differential, running in this case a stump-pulling 4.27:1 ratio. This combination gave the 1957 Packard real performance: 0-60 mph in 10-11 seconds, the wagon a shade quicker thanks to its better weight distribution.

For more information on the 1957 Packardbaker, read on to the next page.

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