With the introduction of the 1957 and 1958 Packard concept cars, Studebaker-Packard President James Nance hoped to rebuild the luxury end of the business.
In its day, the main Packard plant in Detroit was among the most beautiful and well-ordered of factories, its spotless Packard Gray interior staffed by an experienced workforce of high morale.
The facade, easily seen from tree-lined East Grand Boulevard, was studded with impressive pillared entrances, each bearing the Packard name in dignified block letters; the effect was not unlike that of a mausoleum.
A mausoleum it was in the summer of 1956, when production ground to a halt after years of customer flight to Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial. Hardly anything was left except the styling studio, still valiantly working on "real" Packards for 1957-1958. The late Richard A. Teague, then a staff designer and ever a car enthusiast devoted to the marque, later called this period Packard's "last days in the bunker."
Financial resources dried up one after another that summer. Gradually, big East Grand was emptied when workers were shifted to Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana, factory, where Studebaker-Packard Corporation planned to build Studebaker-based Packards amid a frank cash crisis.
In the authoritative Packard: A History of the Motorcar and the Company, Teague recalled that "Styling was the last to go because [management] thought there was [still] some chance. You knew goddamn well the end was close, but you kept hoping for the life raft. Rumors? You wouldn't believe the rumors. . . . Everybody from Universal CIT to Ford was buying us out."
Left behind in Detroit was the true 1957 Packard, not a pretender in Studebaker dress but the car with which Studebaker-Packard president James Nance hoped to rebuild the luxury end of his business.
Besides the usual numerous renderings and clay models, there were several full-size mockups and a running "mule," all inspired by the distinctive Predictor "dream car" that had toured the show circuit earlier in 1956.
The 1957 Packard Predictor concept car was an attractive and convenient model. Continue to the next page to learn more about this special car.
For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: