1954 packard caribbean

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crisal53
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:41 pm

1954 packard caribbean

Post by crisal53 » Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:55 pm

Not for the Packard purist but I want to know if a 1954 P. Caribbean convertible (the chassis is destroyed) can be used with another drivetrain/engine. Maybe also an era Packard or maybe turn into a muscle car. Any thoughts suggestions?

Howard56
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Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by Howard56 » Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:01 pm

I am not a purist by any means but I for one would hate to see it turned into a muscle car because of the rarity of the model. It would most likely cost as much to do that as it would to keep it mostly original yet the value when finished will be considerably diminished.

The 54 Caribbean used the 359 engine which was also on the convertible, Pacific hardtop, and the Patrician sedans and limos -- all considered senior cars that year. It is a one year only engine and used only on those models so that is one difference in picking just any drivetrain. Even though they used the small wheelbase frame, Packard went all out trim and mechanically to make the convertible, hardtop and Caribbean senior status for 54. Anything senior that would fit on the junior chassis was on those cars. The other models used the 288 or 327 engines. The trans were the same for all models and rear axles were also the same for all the senior models. Smaller or junior models (Clippers etc) had a smaller rear end. The engine and trans are available so not impossible to find but may be more costly than the more common drivetrains. The Caribbean and convertible frames even though they were on the short junior 122" wheelbase were 1/32 inch larger in all dimensions including thickness of the steel. That extra strength frame may be hard to find because of the value and desirability -- even in poor condition.

Having said that there is a gentleman doing a 53 Caribbean using a smaller frame. His original frame was rusted beyond repair and is the reason he chose to go that route. I don't remember if he is using a hardtop frame (also on a very desirable model in 54) or modifying a sedan frame by changing location of the body supports. He didn't seem to be too concerned about the slight difference in strength so perhaps his plan was to beef up strategic locations with some reinforcement. The good thing about his project is he has the correct drivetrain. There are some differences but an earlier frame could be used on your project and brackets changed or added as needed.

crisal53
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:41 pm

Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by crisal53 » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:59 am

Thanks for your thorough reply Howard. The problem is that with only 400 made of the 54' finding parts is almost impossible. When you refer to the senior models, which are those? Thanks!

Dave Czirr
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Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by Dave Czirr » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:33 am

"Senior" 1954 models are the 8-passenger sedan and limo, the Patrician sedan, the Pacific 2-door hardtop, the Convertible, and the Caribbean. The model called the Cavalier is a Packard label as opposed to a Clipper so it's considered a senior in the technical sense but it is really a downscale Patrician, smaller engine, less elegant trimming.

If you go back to the main webpage and click "Reference" you'll find a chart with model year info, engine size, wheelbase, illustrations.

Apologies for hopping in on Howard but I just happened to be here.

crisal53
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:41 pm

Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by crisal53 » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:40 am

Reading your post better it seems the Pacific and Patrician are the seniors. Would the 55' patrician drivetrain fit the 54' Caribbean?

Thanks

Dave Czirr
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Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by Dave Czirr » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:47 am

There are several instances of 55/56 V8 engines installed in 1954 cars so it's possible though from what I've read far from a simple drop-in. I would expect that doing so on a Caribbean would result in a significant loss of value, just my opinion.

Howard56
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Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:35 am

Re: 1954 packard caribbean

Post by Howard56 » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:06 am

As Dave said, prior to 54 about the only model considered senior was the Patrician 4 door sedan. For your project you would need to find a senior 359 engine from one of the 54 models listed as senior but the frame will have to be from a junior model aka Clipper which used the 122 wheelbase. 51-4 frames are for the most part essentially the same but there are differences in some brackets etc. To use a sedan frame on a convertible you would have to move or maybe even add body mount outriggers. Hardtop frames would work virtually unchanged except for the convertible reinforcements needed but hardtop production was relatively low compared to sedans. There is more of a market for people wanting to restore a hardtop so probably harder to find a frame or parts car at a decent price.

As to using a 55-56 frame that is a bit more of a challenge. It would have to be again from a Clipper on the 122" wheelbase because the 400, Patrician and Caribbean were on the 127" base in 55-6. The V8 resulted in moving the radiator and front crossmember rearward so that could present a bit more work. The 55-6 also had torsion level suspension and while I don't think there is anything that would interfere mounting an earlier convertible body it would require outrigger changes. That might be an issue in some places due to location of TL components. You would also need the frame reinforcements of which there were quite a few on the V8 Caribbeans.

Here are some charts so you can get an idea of what to look for in 52-4 models. Forget about anything on the 127 or larger wheelbases except for possibly some drivetrain components.
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