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1955 Packard Clipper Constellation price

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  • 1955 Packard Clipper Constellation price

    I went to look at a couple Larks which turned out to be really rough and I wasn't interested in picking them up! But in one of his garages I saw a really nice looking 1955 Packard Clipper Constellation two door. I never thought about getting a Packard but this was a really nice looking body style. It is for sale so I am going back to get a better look at it. What kind of prices are these bringing? I know I will need more information to get specific. It has a clear title and he said it ran good. What things should I look for besides what I normally do when I am looking at Studebakers? Thanks. Any help would be appreciated.
    1958 Transtar 3E6-122
    1958 Transtar 3E13-31
    1959 Transtar 4E7-122
    1959 Lark 2 door Wagon
    1960 Transtar 5E28-171
    1960 Lark Gasser
    1963 Daytona

  • #2
    This place should come in handy: http://www.hagerty.com/valuationtool...port?vc=700880

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by MCCAB1 View Post
      I went to look at a couple Larks which turned out to be really rough and I wasn't interested in picking them up! But in one of his garages I saw a really nice looking 1955 Packard Clipper Constellation two door. I never thought about getting a Packard but this was a really nice looking body style. It is for sale so I am going back to get a better look at it. What kind of prices are these bringing? I know I will need more information to get specific. It has a clear title and he said it ran good. What things should I look for besides what I normally do when I am looking at Studebakers? Thanks. Any help would be appreciated.
      I'd suggest you ask Bob Palma, he'd have a good idea I think.
      John Clements
      Christchurch, New Zealand

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MCCAB1
        he said it ran good. What things should I look for besides what I normally do when I am looking at Studebakers?
        Two things top the list, lifter noise/low oil pressure, and Ultra-matic transmission function.
        You don't want to find out what issues with these will cost.

        Comment


        • #5
          The '56 model seems to be valued much higher. Basically the same car except for the tail lights. Re oiling issues and the UltraMatic, the Olds oil pump conversion can be done (if needed) for a few hundred bucks and a quality rebuild on the trans with modern upgrades is around $2K from UltraMatic Dynamics. It probably has the Bendix HydroVac brake system which can be problematic, but modern dual cylinder conversions are available.
          1996 Impala SS
          1967 Jag XKE FHC
          1963 Avanti R2
          1963 Avanti R1
          1956 Packard Patrician
          1948 Jag Mk IV DHC
          1909 Hupmobile Model 20

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi, Bruce;

            As John suggested in Post #3, I do follow these things and have a nice "driver" 1956 Clipper Super 2-door hardtop I've had for 21 years.

            You are looking at a 1955 Clipper Constellation. As such, it will have the 352 engine and Torsion-Level Ride standard equipment. The lesser 1955 Clippers (Super and DeLuxe) only had the 320 engine in 1955 and Torsion-Level ride was optional at extra cost.

            These cars, especially the '55s, have two primary problems:

            1. The oil pump was a poor design that incorporated a built-in vacuum booster for the windshield wipers. The internal seals fail on those and cause the oil pump to begin pumping aerated oil into the engine's oiling system; oil containing microscopic air bubbles.

            These air bubbles get into the hydraulic lifters and cause them to start collapsing and clattering. By now, most of the cars have been repaired with an improved (or Oldsmobile conversion) oil pump, but since you can't see it, you have to take the seller's word for it, or ask for a receipt for the work and when it was done.

            Lacking that, get the engine warmed up and take it for a long drive; I'd say at least 50 miles, to get it thoroughly warmed up and see if any lifter clatter commences. Be sure to check the oil before you embark, to be sure it hasn't been thickened with STP-like additives to mask this possibility.

            2. The Ultramatic transmission was notoriously weak; it just wasn't up to the higher torque of the new V8. It can be upgraded and serviced properly to be dependable, but finding a competent person to work on it can be difficult. I see you are in Wyoming and the best person (Peter Fitch at Ultramatic Dynamics) is in New Jersey. Bummer.

            So check the transmission fluid when you get there and see if it smells burnt or anything out of the ordinary. Your 50-mile test drive to find out about the oil pump "issue" will also warm up the transmission fluid, so you can see if it shifts firmly and on time. If it does when all warmed up and the fluid is clean, it will probably be OK.

            Lesser Issues:

            1. Make sure the Torsion-Level Ride leveling mechanism works OK. Walk up to the car with the battery connected. There is no need to have the key in the switch or have the engine running or anything; it can be tested withoiut even getting in the car.

            Sit on the rear bumper so the car drops noticeably. After an intentional delay, you should hear some noises under the car and it should level itself with you sitting on the rear bumper. When you get off the bumper, the car should raise slightly and then lower itself to where it was when you first approached it.

            One problem with these cars related to age and poor maintenance is that the Torsion-Level mechanism may not have been greased properly through the years, so one side of the car sits higher than the other. Not good. You may be able to get it to level better by really going after all the grease fittings located aft of the car's centerline for the Torsion-Level leveling mechanism.

            They should haev been greased every time the car was lubricated, but because they are aft of the car's centerline, nobody notices them and they get overlooked and dry. This causes additional friction and may prohibit the mechanism from properly raising and lowering the car, often raising and lowering one side of the car more than the other. (If you ever go to a car show with lots of Packards, check out the rows of 1955 and 1956 models. The owners with honestly level cars side-to-side are the fortunate ones. My '56 has always leaned to the left a bit and, sadly, would require extensive work to correct it.)

            2. Rust. These cars are as prone to rust as any 50s car; better than some, worse than others; about average overall. Check the rear quarter panels over and in back of the rear wheels for cancer or previous cancer repair. They don't have any terminal rust issues unless the car is suich a hopeless rust bucket that nobody would have tackled it in the first place....we hope.

            3. Lower exterior trim. You are looking at a Constellation. As such, it should have full-length chrome and stainless-steel trim all along the bottom, even up over the rear wheels, back down, and back to the rear of the car. Note that here on the brochure car:



            If the car has been half-ass "restored," somebody might have eliminated one or more of those lower trim pieces, as they are frequently dinged up and, as you can see, if serious rust has compromised the rear quarter panels and wheel openings, those moldings can be difficult to reattach. If they are missing, they will be difficult to find because they are unique to that specific model.

            As for price. You can see from "all the above" that condition is critical on these cars. You should be able to buy the best one in the country for $20,000, and it had better be the nicest one for that price, and parts cars can be worth $500 if they are complete with all that special trim. A good, presentable driver will be around $10,000...but, again, it had better not have any mechanical "issues" at that price.

            These are unique cars and I love 'em. When the Torsion-Level is working properly, they ride like you are on a cloud.

            John's Post #5 about the troublesome Bendix Hydrovac Power Brake unit is almost "standard equipment" on these cars. You'll be "doing" that sooner or later.

            Best wishes with he one you are looking at, Bruce. BP
            Last edited by BobPalma; 01-17-2014, 05:29 PM.
            We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

            G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

            Comment


            • #7
              The Olds oil pump conversion is good idea, but if the engine is already rattling there is no telling how many miles and how much damage has already been done.
              I can't count the number of nice appearing 50s Packard's that I have seen sit and deteriorate for decades because of 'bad' motors and transmissions.
              I'm sure you have the experience, the expertise, and parts to repair about anything on a V-8 Packard.
              But the Joe Average can expect to pay up the wazoo for questionable Packard 'service' using unobtainium Packard parts.
              Nothing wrong with a good ol Packard, but the inexperienced are well advised to make sure that it is still a good one at the start.
              Or end up with an expensive lawn ornament.

              Comment


              • #8
                Good advice, all.

                Lacking that, get the engine warmed up and take it for a long drive; I'd say at least 50 miles, to get it thoroughly warmed up and see if any lifter clatter commences. Be sure to check the oil before you embark, to be sure it hasn't been thickened with STP-like additives to mask this possibility.
                If the Packard V8 has good compression and runs well, lifter clatter can often be ameliorated by the Oldsmobile oil pump conversion.

                But the Joe Average can expect to pay up the wazoo for questionable Packard 'service' using unobtainium Packard parts.

                I can't speak to the rest of the car, but the Packard V8 isn't that much more expensive to rebuild than a Studebaker V8. All the parts are still available. Whatever the engine, most of the cost of a quality rebuild is labor and machine time.

                As BP says, when a '55-56 Packard with Torsion Level is operating well, it's a revelation. The engine, transmission and ride are far better than anything the competition offered. Unfortunately, Packard ceased to exist and the components didn't benefit from subsequent years of debugging the competition enjoyed.

                If you have any questions about the engine after your test drive, PM me.

                jack vines
                PackardV8

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks so much for all the information. That really helps me to know what to look for in this car. A price of a negotiable $4,000.00 was mentioned in our conversation so we will see. I will call and get more details from the owner before I go back and check it out better. Thanks again. Bruce.
                  1958 Transtar 3E6-122
                  1958 Transtar 3E13-31
                  1959 Transtar 4E7-122
                  1959 Lark 2 door Wagon
                  1960 Transtar 5E28-171
                  1960 Lark Gasser
                  1963 Daytona

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the body isn't corroded, (many '55-'56 Packards suffer from severe body rust-out), and You can buy the car reasonably, think about an engine/transmission swap to something more dependable that wont nickel and dime You to death. A Chevrolet V8 coupled to a 700R4 transmission would be an excellent choice, and can still be found in boneyards at reasonable prices. Sticking with that original 'never really sorted out' engine and transmission really only makes sense for a seldom driven showcar. Actually, Your best bet would probably be to keep looking for a nice Stude!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A car of this stature needs a big block at the very least.
                      Bez Auto Alchemy
                      573-318-8948
                      http://bezautoalchemy.com


                      "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We will see what I find out. I have 6 or 7 350 Chevy Tuned port engines in the garage so like you said that is an option if it comes to that. I have plenty of nice Studes already.
                        1958 Transtar 3E6-122
                        1958 Transtar 3E13-31
                        1959 Transtar 4E7-122
                        1959 Lark 2 door Wagon
                        1960 Transtar 5E28-171
                        1960 Lark Gasser
                        1963 Daytona

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          SN-60 said, "think about an engine/transmission swap to something more dependable that wont nickel and dime You to death. . . . Sticking with that original 'never really sorted out' engine and transmission really only makes sense for a seldom driven showcar."
                          And ever is heard the discouraging word.

                          jack vines
                          PackardV8

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MCCAB1 View Post
                            Thanks so much for all the information. That really helps me to know what to look for in this car. A price of a negotiable $4,000.00 was mentioned in our conversation so we will see. I will call and get more details from the owner before I go back and check it out better. Thanks again. Bruce.
                            IMHO, $4K isn't out of line if the body is solid, the interior is decent and the mechanicals check out. It is a low production car and I'd suggest keeping it stock with only safety related mods/upgrades. Just about any car discussed on this forum would benefit in reliability, efficiency, drivability etc if you transplanted a modern engine & trans in. To me, vintage mechanicals have equal appeal as vintage design. As BP & JV pointed out, when properly sorted these cars are a joy to drive. The big V8 is strong and torquey, and the TL suspension rides like nothing else. Please post some pix if the deal goes thru.
                            1996 Impala SS
                            1967 Jag XKE FHC
                            1963 Avanti R2
                            1963 Avanti R1
                            1956 Packard Patrician
                            1948 Jag Mk IV DHC
                            1909 Hupmobile Model 20

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jessie J. View Post
                              The Olds oil pump conversion is good idea, but if the engine is already rattling there is no telling how many miles and how much damage has already been done.
                              I can't count the number of nice appearing 50s Packard's that I have seen sit and deteriorate for decades because of 'bad' motors and transmissions.
                              I'm sure you have the experience, the expertise, and parts to repair about anything on a V-8 Packard.
                              But the Joe Average can expect to pay up the wazoo for questionable Packard 'service' using unobtainium Packard parts.
                              Nothing wrong with a good ol Packard, but the inexperienced are well advised to make sure that it is still a good one at the start.
                              Or end up with an expensive lawn ornament.
                              The above statement is an HONEST and REALISTIC summation of what a 'Packard Newbie' needs to understand before he or she buys a 1955 or a 1956 Packard.(Or a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk)

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