Packard was now sinking fast, being pulled down with Studebaker. Including Clipper, 1956 production totaled 28,835 cars, just slightly more than half of '55 volume.
Studebaker-Packard had planned an all-new 1957 corporate line that included a shared bodyshell but totally different looks for Studebaker and Clipper, plus a much larger separate platform for a group of high-luxury Packards styled in the image of Dick Teague's 1956 Packard Predictor show car.
But S-P was on the ropes, so no financial backing could be found, leading Nance to resign in August 1956. (He soon resurfaced at another ill-fated outfit: the new Edsel Division of Ford Motor Company.)
Salvation finally arrived in the form of Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which picked up Studebaker-Packard as a dalliance and/or tax write-off. C-W's Roy Hurley began directing S-P's affairs. One of his first decisions was to end Packard production in Detroit and substitute Studebaker-based models built in South Bend.
Thus appeared a new Packard Clipper for 1957: the infamous "Packardbaker," as many have since called it. Though a very good Studebaker, it was hardly in the same league with the '55-56 Packards. It came in just two models: four-door Town Sedan and Country Sedan station wagon.
The sedan was on Studebaker's longer 120.5-inch chassis while the wagon was on a 116.5-inch chassis. A supercharged Studebaker 289-cid V-8 delivered the same 275 bhp as on '55 Caribbeans and '56 Executives, but Ultramatic, Torsion-Level, and other "real Packard" features were gone.
Styling, at least, played on Packard themes. Prices were higher than for comparable Studeys: $3212/$3384. But everyone recognized this as a charade, and only about 5000 of the '57s, mostly sedans, were bought.
A big-Packard revival was still theoretically possible as the '58s were planned, so S-P again tried a holding action. This time there were four "Packardbakers" priced as high as $3995. Studebaker's shorter 116.5-inch platform carried a two-door hardtop and four-door wagon, the 120-inch chassis a sedan and the Packard Hawk. The last, perhaps the most-famous of this series, was a more-luxurious version of Studebaker's Golden Hawk.
All featured full-leather interiors and bizarre styling announced by low, "fish-mouth" grilles. In defense of stylist Duncan McRae, the Hawk was really built only because of Roy Hurley, who also dictated its long, bolt-on fiberglass nose and gaudy gold-mylar tailfins.
McRae, however, gets the blame for the Hawk's outside "armrests" and styling on the other three models: also garishly finned, and with hastily contrived four-headlight systems to keep up with an industry trend. Only the Hawk was supercharged. Other '58 Packards used a stock 289 with 210 bhp. Production was uniformly low: 159 wagons, 588 Hawks, 675 hardtops, and 1200 sedans.
With that, there was no point in going on, and once-proud Packard vanished from the scene (though its name continued in the corporate title until 1962). It was a great loss, but it did give Studebaker a new lease on life, though that make, too, would soon expire.