Packard designs a halo car in 1953, the Caribbean

(September 23, 2014) Packard introduced the Caribbean convertible in 1953 as a "halo" car to attract customers back to the brand, which had lost its premium brand luster after World War II. The convertible was based on the Pan American concept car shown at the 1952 New York International Motor Show.

The focus of the Caribbean was on producing a more sporty car. Therefore, the car would lack trim and other brightwork, especially on the side of the car. The car would show a little emotion with its full-wheel cut-outs and rocker panels trimmed in chrome. It also come with a continental spare tire on the trunk. This would help give the car a more modern, European feel with a little edge and sportiness.

Available advertised colors were limited to Polaris Blue, Gulf Green Metallic, Maroon Metallic or Sahara Sand. However, a handful of special-ordered cars were built in Ivory or Black.

Interiors of the Caribbean were richly upholstered in leather. Most Caribbeans were also generously optioned, although the Ultramatic transmission and power windows were optional cost items on the first year model.

The Caribbean helped bring notoriety back to the brand with 750 units sold the first year.

But Packard begin introducing more standardized styling into the Caribbean for the 1954 model year eliminating the wheel cutouts and adding more chrome. Sales slipped to 400. Sales perked up in 1955 with the introduction of the new Packard design for '55 and with the addition of a 300-horsepower V8 engine. The Caribbean gained a hardtop model in 1956, but production ended after Packard's merger with Studebaker.

Copies of the earlier Caribbean models are bringing six figures at auctions.

Enjoy a one-minute Packard advertisement describing the attributes of the 1953 Caribbean.

Top picture courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
Sources: Wikipedia, conceptcarz