(a.k.a. Red Car Day at Chez la Vache!)
1953 Packard Balboa-X had been derived from the '53 Caribbean. The Caribbean, in turn had evolved from the 1952 Packard Pan American, designed by Richard Arbib (shown last week). The Pan American was one of a series of Packard show cars, the first of which was Ed Macauley's Speedster Special.
Just before the arrival of the dynamic James Nance as president of Packard, the company had determined it needed to modernize its staid image. The show cars, beginning with the Speedster Special, were part of that effort. It was an effort Nance completely endorsed. Putting the Caribbean into production fit fully into those efforts. In addition, General Motors launched a trio of limited production "halo" cars in 1953: the Cadillac Eldorado, Buick Skylark, and Oldsmobile Fiesta. The Caribbean was Nance's response to GM. None of these "halo" cars - neither GM's nor Packard's - were ever intended for volume production, but were intended to draw customers into dealer show rooms where, it was hoped, customers would buy one of the companies other models.
Packard stylist Richard Teague, who had arrived at Packard just ahead of Nance, designed the Caribbean. He used the scooped hood of the Speedster Special, also used by Arbib on the Pan American. Many of the styling cues of the Pan American were used by Teague on the '53 Caribbean. Thus the two cars were evolutionary in design. The 1954 Packard Caribbean was less derivative of others' styling and more wholly the work of Teague. The fabulous '55 and '56 Caribbeans were entirely the work of Teague and his team.
Nance commissioned 750 Caribbeans for the 1953 production run. Regular 1953 Packard convertibles were taken to Mitchell-Bentley in Ionia, Michigan, where they were finished as Caribbeans. The Caribbean models are highly prized as collectors cars. Six figure selling prices today for 1953 Caribbeans are not uncommon.
See more Ruby Tuesday entries HERE.