Clipper (Studebaker-Packard Corporation)
Clipper was a separate brand of the American car manufacturer Studebaker-Packard Corporation, which was only marketed in the model year 1956.
The Packard and Clipper 1955 and 1956 are among the most innovative vehicles of their time. Although cost reasons did not allow a completely new chassis and also the body structure of 1951 had to be used a last time, these automobiles abound only of technical innovations. Packard has never made "cheap" cars., with a price region, in which a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley were to have been.
For the first time, the name Clipper appeared at Packard in 1941 for a pioneering sedan of the upper middle class. Later James Nance , since 1952 President of Packard and later Studebaker-Packard, tried to split the name Clipper as his own brand and to re-establish Packard as a pure luxury automaker. Therefore, for model year 1956, Clipper was introduced as a stand-alone brand by creating a separate Packard-Clipper division within Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Packard dealers were required to franchise-Base also Clipper for sale. In addition, Studebaker dealers in regions where there were no Packard dealers were also allowed to sign such franchise agreements. They could then also sell other Packard models, as far as the factory allowed.
These efforts began to emerge from the model year 1953 when the model name [Clipper] replaced the former designation "200" for the smaller series. Starting from 1954 Clipper received increasingly independent design elements around it also optically from the so-called "senior" models demarcate. So Packard Clipper got its own chrome trim and other fenders including taillights. When Packard introduced a completely redesigned model in 1955, the Clipper retained these mudguards and got its own two-tone paint job, which for the first time went beyond a differently painted roof. During the model year, the color separation was supplemented because it had been shown that the located slightly below the Packard Clipper located Pontiac had a very similar color separation.
In 1956, as an independent brand, Clipper not only got its own advertising slogan ("Skipper The Clipper"), but also its own logo. It represented a ship's steering wheel and was proudly in the middle of the radiator grille, on the trunk lid, on the C-pillar of the Super and Custom models and on the inside of the steering wheel hub as well as on the dashboard (there including the model name).
The Clipper was a slightly smaller version of the Packard and like this through and through a quality automobile. After 1955, a veritable firework of technical innovations had been kicked off, these were refined for 1956.
The just introduced for the large models V8 engine with 352 cubic inches of displacement (5801 cc) and overhead valves hanging (ohv) was no longer enough for the management. An even larger engine with 374 cubic inches (6130 cc) and 290 resp. 310 HP was introduced in 1956. Thus the Clipper took over the 352er engine, which had received the Clipper Custom however already 1955. The 320 cubic inch V8 (5245 cc) from 1955 was also replaced for external customers such as AMC (Nash and Hudson) from the 352, in this form, however, only 220 bhp @ 4600 / min (164 kW) delivered.
Critics proclaimed Packard and Clipper also 1956 outstanding achievement and an above-average driving behavior. This was largely due to the torsion-level ride called suspension by means of torsion bars. This suspension was introduced in 1955 and comes as standard on all Packard and Packard Customs. In 1956, it was part of the standard equipment of all Packard and Clipper, only the cheapest model, the Clipper Deluxe was delivered on request and free of charge, a conventional suspension, probably around 1955er parts to reduce.
Also "Twin Ultramatic", the in-house automatic (with which foreign customers like AMC could not advertise) had been further refined. It already had two driving ranges with different gradation worked in principle like a transmission with sports and economy area. New for this gearbox was an electric push-button pad option available for $ 56.
For the first time in the US industry was also a rear axle with Sperrdiffential of Dana-Spicer available. However, because of this axis had to be recalled for the first time in the history of the brand Packard automobiles. Affected were also Clipper.
The designers under Richard Teague (who had already been responsible for the thorough visual restoration in 1955) once again succeeded in producing striking visual differences between Packard and Clipper with a maximum of common parts. Thus, in addition to bonnets, new, beefier boot lids, roofs, doors, etc., the same bumpers front and rear were used. As in the previous year, however, Clipper had a grille with chrome rods (which were now arranged horizontally instead of vertically), while in the Packard it consisted of a coarse chrome check pattern deposited with an anodised aluminum mesh (similar to the previous year). Newly, the grille also covered the opening under the bumper. By the way, early in the model year, the silver anodized grille was replaced by a gold anodised grille. Clipper also had a simple, chrome-plated lamp surround. For the Packard this consisted of a chrome frame and a painted decorative sheet behind it. Clipper also got its own radiator figure, which consisted of a spear that pierced a bullet.
Different were also the front and the rear fenders. The Clipper lacked the far forward "roofs" over the headlights in front (in practice no disadvantage, they were also very exposed in light collisions) and back resulted already because of the shorter wheelbase (127 inches at Packard and 122 at Clipper) one other form. But while the Packard used a slightly modified version of the 55mm "Cathedral" taillights, the Clipper got completely new, oblong curved units.
The production problems with the body were finally solved. They had come by a hasty transfer of the new and actually too small body shop on the Conner Avenue and had led to customer complaints. The tight space also prevented Packard or Clipper from adding the much-needed estate version.
The model range of the new Clipper remained unchanged. Again, there was a deluxe "Touring Sedan" as a price breaker. It was followed by the identical motorized Super Series with also a Touring Sedan and a two-door hardtop. At the top of the brand was the Custom , which was also available in these two versions. The additional names used previously for the hardtops Panama in the Super series and Constellation in the Custom series have been deleted without replacement, although they are occasionally used unofficially.
The light face-lift, which was done annually, as with most US manufacturers, included a new color separation for the Super and Custom models. Now, the second color included the roof and a strip on the flank, which led completely straight up from the front to the rear, but at the bottom was about body center in an elegant bow wider. Packard changed little and now only led the aluminum application on the flank now to the rear.
While the Clipper Super and Custom are outwardly different only by an additional chrome trim on the sill of Custom, the Deluxe Touring Sedan has many peculiarities. So its flanking power is limited to a front strip, which runs from the front body end to the center of the front door. A second chrome strip begins in the middle of the rear door and ends at the reversing light. The C-pillar is completely independent. A two-tone paint was limited to an alternative color for the roof.The wheel covers of the Deluxe were a curiosity. They were the only ones from the previous year's model and were therefore the only ones in the Clipper series to proudly read PACKARD-CLIPPER.
In the middle of the model year, dealers began to complain that customers did not buy these cars because they were Packards, but they did not recognize it.
After Nance had to watch how many of his dealers changed to Mercury, he responded to two pages: The demand that the name Packard should appear again somewhere on the Clipper, he reluctantly came after and put a lettering down on the bottom of the boot lid. As part of an inspection of this chrome lettering was also added later and free of charge so that today Clipper without him are rarer than those with.
Above all, Nance introduced a new model: the Packard Executive, This replaced from 15 March 1956 the former Clipper Custom, with whom he was technically identical. This only Packard on 122-inch chassis had full-fledged Packard front and Packard logos everywhere where the Clipper wheel had previously been slammed. The strip on the side did not show the Clipper swing down but neither did the metal application of the big models. The tail was identical to that of the Clipper except for logos and fonts. Also the interior came almost completely from the Clipper Custom. In addition to the distinctive signs, the Executive received the Packard dashboard (with a textile cover of gold instead of silver threads and other decor) but the new, now blue-backed instruments of the Clipper; at the Packard they were still white. In addition, the Clipper instrumentation included warning lights instead of oil pressure and temperature indicators. Priced, the executive was about US $ 200 above the Clipper Custom, but also had a more complete basic equipment.
The production of the model year 1956 ended for Packard as for Clipper on 25 September. Previously, Studebaker-Packard had been taken over by the Curtiss-Wright armaments company, which prevented the impending bankruptcy of the entire group. Most members of the management, including James Nance and Richard Teague, left the company. The Packard Works on East Grand Boulevard and the body shop on Conner Avenue in Detroit were closed thereafter. But while there was a new Packard for 1957, the Clipper brand was no longer needed - Packard now sold exclusively in the Clipper market segment. The 1957 Packard was completely based on the Studebaker President Classic and ran in the Studebaker factory in South Bend (Indiana)from the band. With them the name Clipper reappeared - but only as a model name but complete with ship steering wheel at the bow.
The tail light of the 1956 Clipper was used on both the 1958 and 1958 Packard models from South Bend, which should have bothered the Studebaker designers a bit. Thus, just one component, which was otherwise redesigned annually, was one of the most durable and still witnessed by the brand Clipper as this had long since extinguished.
The model year lasted from November 3, 1955 to June 25, 1956, with the Clipper Custom being replaced by the Packard Executive on March 15. The total production amounted to 18572 pieces (without exports).
Common to all Clipper and Packard Executive is the ohv V8 engine with 352 cubic inches of displacement (5801 cc), which performed in the Deluxe and Super 240 hp (SAE) at 4600 rpm. Custom and Executive had a higher compression version of this engine with 275 HP (SAE) at 4600 rpm.The chassis of a Clipper Custom was used as the basis for the Show Car Packard Predictor, which should anticipate the planned design direction for 1957.