Sorted Survivor: 1956 Packard 400 Coupe – Sold?

by | Nov 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

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December 20, 2023, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The Packard Motor Car Company was a storied American Luxury automobile manufacturer formed in 1899 that stayed in business until 1958.  While the company came out of World War II flush with cash from lucrative wartime defense contracts, company management made a series of missteps after the war that, combined with an early 1950s price pressure from the Big Three, had Packard fighting for relevance and survival.  A merger with Studebaker in 1954 made matters even worse.

Consequently, Packard’s marketing executives struggled to market their offerings, offering a confusing range of brand names and number designations.  For example, after canceling the use of the “400” designation in 1951 and 1952 for its senior two-door hardtop, Packard relaunched the “Four Hundred” brand for the 1955 model year. Visual cues that helped to identify the 400 quickly included a full-color band along the lower portion of the car, topped by a partial color band that truncated along the rear edge of the front doors. “The Four Hundred” in gold anodized script adorned the band between the front wheel well and door edge.  Changes to the 1956 Four Hundred followed those changes to the entire senior Packard line as it attempted to further distance itself from the Clipper, which was now its own marque in 1956.

Adding to the confusion for 1956, Packard offered a completely new Caribbean two-door in hardtop and convertible forms.  A lower-priced alternative to the top-of-the-line Caribbean was now the 400 Coupe, which now shared its body and chassis with the more expensive hardtop.  While Packard Caribbeans in excellent condition command top dollar these days, an economical alternative is the equally rare and mechanically identical 400.

One example is this two-tone 1956 Packard 400 Coupe for sale, last spotted in November 2023 on Craigslist in Indian Hill, Ohio (Cincinnati). Reported to be a 56,000-mile survivor quality example, the seller notes their 400 Coupe is mechanically sorted.  Their motivation for selling is that they have too many cars, including a ’56 Caribbean Coupe they use more often than this 400 Coupe.

Last offered for $26,700, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask aligns with this guide’s five-year results for all 1955 through 1956 Packard 400s.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the downloadable 2023 Old Cars Price Guide Big Book confirms the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 “Fine” estimate of $25,900 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $37,000 for a stock example.

The 1956 Packard 400 Coupe is a timeless embodiment of automotive elegance and innovation. As part of Packard’s Golden Anniversary lineup, this distinguished model represented the pinnacle of the brand’s craftsmanship and engineering prowess during a pivotal era in automotive history.

The 1956 Packard 400 Coupe exterior exudes a graceful blend of classic and modern design elements. The car features a distinctive wraparound windshield, a hallmark of mid-1950s automotive styling. The body, characterized by its clean lines and pronounced fender skirts, contributes to a sense of fluidity and sophistication. From the front grille to the rear bumper, Chrome accents further elevate the car’s aesthetic appeal, creating a harmonious balance between understated luxury and bold presence.

The two-door coupe configuration adds an element of sportiness to the 400 model, making it a favorite among enthusiasts seeking a combination of performance and elegance. The roofline, gently sloping towards the rear, enhances the car’s aerodynamics while maintaining a sense of classic charm.

Under the hood, the 1956 Packard 400 Coupe boasts a robust powertrain that exemplifies the engineering excellence of its time. The standard engine is a 352 cubic inch V8, delivering a respectable 275 horsepower. The engine is mated to Packard’s cutting-edge Ultramatic automatic transmission, a pioneering innovation in the mid-1950s that enhanced driving comfort and efficiency.

The 400 Coupe’s performance on the road is marked by a smooth and responsive ride, a testament to Packard’s commitment to delivering a driving experience that transcends mere transportation. The suspension system, tuned for comfort without sacrificing handling, ensures a plush ride over various road conditions.

Step inside the 1956 Packard 400 Coupe, and you’re enveloped in an atmosphere of luxury and refinement. The interior reflects Packard’s meticulous attention to detail and commitment to passenger comfort. Plush, bench-style seating upholstered in premium materials offers both support and opulence. The dashboard is a symphony of chrome and polished wood accents, housing a set of gauges that provide essential information to the driver.

Innovative features such as power windows and power-adjustable front seats were cutting-edge for the time, enhancing the overall driving experience and setting the 400 Coupe apart in comfort and convenience. The cabin’s spacious layout provides ample room for the driver and passengers, making it a luxurious, grand touring automobile.

Beyond its luxurious appointments, the 1956 Packard 400 Coupe introduced several technological advancements contributing to its reputation as a forward-thinking automobile. The Ultramatic automatic transmission, for instance, was a pioneering innovation that set new standards for convenience and drivability. Additionally, the car featured power steering, a relatively rare amenity in its era, further enhancing the ease of handling.

The 1956 Packard 400 Coupe occupies a special place in automotive history, representing the culmination of Packard’s legacy as a luxury car manufacturer. Despite Packard’s challenges during this period, the 400 Coupe remains a sought-after classic among collectors and enthusiasts. Its rarity and historical significance contribute to its status as a prized gem in the world of vintage automobiles.

The 1956 Packard 400 Coupe is not merely a relic of the past; it symbolizes an era when American automakers were at the forefront of design, engineering, and innovation. Its timeless elegance and advanced features for its time ensure its enduring appeal among those who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of mid-20th-century automobiles.

The Clint Moore YouTube Channel provides this video of what it’s like to drive a 1956 Packard 400 Coupe:

The seller of this 1956 Packard 400 Coupe for sale reports their classic car is a well-sorted, survivor-quality example.  If you have the garage space and want to add a mid-century Packard to your collection, this 400 Coupe represents a stunning and cost-effective alternative to the even rarer Caribbean Hardtop on which this car is based.

If you are serious about buying this 400 Coupe, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Packard featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Beautiful 1956 Packard 400. Well-sorted out and reliable driver. There is a new fuel system, new brakes, and tires. Very well-maintained, original, and in amazing condition. Honestly, it gets more attention than our cobra! I’d drive it across the country without concern. We are only selling because we have too many cars, one of which is a 56 Caribbean coupe that we use more. I would consider a partial trade if it’s something different we could use, but I prefer to reclaim some garage space. If the ad is up, it’s still available.

Show or go: What would you do with this sorted survivor quality 1956 Packard 400 Coupe for sale? Please comment below and let us know!

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