On June 25, 1956, the last of the Detroit-built Packards rolled off the assembly line on Conner Avenue. On the following day, company president James Nance resigned, unable to persuade the bankers to advance any more funding for new products and tooling. On August 20, with all the other possibilities exhausted and time running out, the Studebaker-Packard board elected to throw together a skeleton lineup of ’57 Packard models. These cars would be closely based on existing Studebaker products and built in the Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana.
With barely 90 days to work with and virtually no budget, the styling team, led by Richard A. Teague, tacked on classic Packard design cues wherever they could. Among other imaginative tricks, somehow they managed to graft the fabulous ’56 Packard tail lamp assemblies to the aging Studebaker sheet metal. But if you look a little more closely, the wagon’s 1953-vintage greenhouse is all too evident.
Priced near $3,000 and carrying more standard trimmings, the Packards sold for around $400 more than comparable Studebaker models. Sales amounted to only 3,940 Town Sedans (Model 57L-Y8) and 869 Country Sedans (57L-P8). But given the shortened ’57 model year and the rapidly vanishing Packard dealer network, maybe it’s a wonder they sold as many as they did.
The addition of a Hawk model to the lineup did little to boost sales. Only 588 units found buyers, for total of 2,622 cars in Model Year 1958 and a grand total of 7,431 for the two years of South Bend-built Packards combined. Volume was far too miniscule to carry on, obviously, and the Packardbakers were discontinued on July 13, 1958.