“Pac Doc” owns several ’56 Packards including this Caribbean, #126 of only 276 built. This is the Dover White/Shannon Green/Corsican Black paint combination.
“Pac Doc” loves him some ’56 Packards! He has several of them in his “fleet” including this 1956 Caribbean convertible, originally purchased by his grandfather, a physician.
His grandfather traded in a ’54 Caribbean on the ’56. The ’56 originally did not have wire wheels, but the ’54 did. “Pac Doc’s” grandfather wanted the wire wheels transferred to the ’56 as part of the deal. While he was waiting for the wheel swap to take place, he spotted an Eire Green/Dover White ’56 Executive on the showroom floor. He told the salesman “If you take care of me, I’ll take that one, too”, pointing to the Executive. The Executive became the Packard “Pac Doc’s” grandmother drove. “Pac Doc” owns both of his grandparents’ Packards! How unique is that?!
The Eire Green/Dover White ’56 Executive shown above belonged to “Pac Doc’s” grandmother. Only 2,815 Executives were built, half of those being the 2 door hardtop version.
Packard’s Caribbean line has its genesis in the Pan American show cars built in 1952 from a design by Richard Arbib. It was Arbib who had designed the original Packard Monte Carlo proposals. Packard’s new dynamo president wanted to shake off Packard’s stodgy image. The Pan American was a step in that direction. Auto industry espionage being what it is, no doubt Packard knew of General Motors’ plans to introduce three “halo” cars for 1953 – the Cadillac Eldorado, the Buick Skylark and the Oldsmobile Fiesta.
1952 Packard Pan American show car.
Not to be outdone, Packard went to work on the Caribbean, designed by Richard Teague. Teague also designed a Caribbean spin-off, the Balboa show car, of which two were built.
The 1953 Packard Balboa was a show car spin-off of the Caribbean. The Balboa did not go into production. Two were built for the show circuit.
Packard introduced the Caribbean in ’53 just as GM was bringing its three “halo” cars to market. These cars were largely hand built and consequently built in limited numbers. For 1953, Packard built 750 Caribbeans. In 1954, the number dropped to 400, but increased to 500 for the 1955 model year, all convertibles. For 1956 Packard introduced a Caribbean hardtop to accompany the convertible. Apparently, the original plan was to build 250 of each, but somehow the numbers increased even as the roof was falling in on Packard:: 276 convertibles and 268 hardtops were produced.
A 1953 Caribbean once owned by the late Dixon, CA resident, Mike Doyle, who also owned a ’55 Caribbean.
Above: 1954 Packard Caribbean Below: 1955 Caribbean
At first glance, there seems to be few differences between the ’55 and ’56 Packard Caribbeans. A closer look, however, reveals many subtle changes. The ’56s got the 374 cubic inch V-8, up 22 cubic inches from 1955. The hood scoops on the ’55s were added by hand work, an expensive process, while the ’56s got hoods with the scoops stamped into the hood at the stamping plant.
The interiors of the ’56s had reversible seat cushions – all leather on one side, a leather/fabric combination on the other. Altogether across the Packard line, there were some 1,000 changes made from the 1955 model year.
1956 Packard ad – note the reversible upholstery in the upper left. The pushbutton controls for the Twin-Ultramatic were standard on the Caribbeans.
The Packard hobby is lucky to have someone like “Pac Doc” who has such a wonderful collection of Packards, including the ’50 23rd Series Custom Super Eight (seen at the left in the last photo) and both of the ’56 Packards once owned by his grandparents! His collection of Packards includes a ’52 Mayfair hardtop, two ’56 Executive hardtops, two ’56 Patricians and a ’56 Four Hundred.
Two more views of “Pac Doc’s” ’56 Caribbean. In the photo above, note the running light on the side. The running light also illuminates when the door is open – a nice touch when getting into the car at night.
Another old gas station from the post at Curbside Classics: