Due to the phrase “Fabulous Fifties”, everyone seems to think that all cars sold in America during the first full decade after World War II had loud paint, snarling V8 engines, towering tail fins, and lashings of insane chrome. The opposite, in fact, was true, especially in the years preceding 1955. In fact, most cars were notably understated, and still used muted colors and drab interior schemes as the cost was lower. Of course, a Packard could be drab in color and muted in trim, but the cost would most certainly not be low. This Patrician 400, looking quite stately in black, has a custom interior designed by Dorothy Draper, so the interior was not “drab”. Packard offered this series as its flagship in 1951, and 9,001 orders were taken–mostly in black. It’s not as flashy or as obvious as the equivalent Cadillac or Lincoln of the period, but it does not need to be.
Packard prided themselves, up until their moment of bankruptcy around 1958, upon their ability to stay atop the market in luxury. Their motto was simply “Ask the man who owns one”, which was insipired by the fact that William D. Rockefeller owned one in the early 1900s. Although this was the second-to-last generation of full size Packards produced, the ability for one of these cars to command attention, especially with that especially ornate hood ornament (which completely takes down anything that other brands tried to use during the era), was peerless. Enjoy the photos.
-Albert S. Davis