Based on a design from a 1952 issue of Saga magazine
1952 Packard Retractable Hardtop "Pacifica" Concept Car
Chassis no. 26792380
The Great Depression was not easy on any automaker, but an independent luxury brand like Packard had to play its cards right in order to survive. The 1935 One Twenty earned Packard a stay of execution, allowing the brand to bring some flavor to the medium-priced class. Two years later, the Packard Six took the brand even more down-market.
The jury is still out whether the junior Packards hurt the brand, but there's no doubt that it helped them survive the Great Depression. The 1941 Clipper was their next move the modern luxury car but World War II interrupted Packard's mojo. With Packard's 1948 redesign, it was clear that the brand lost its footing as America's premiere luxury car. Something needed to be done. In response, Packard developed a few design exercises in the early-1950s to grab the public's attention and improve the brand's image.
The California-based builder of this car, an operator of numerous car dealerships, was at the 1996 Paris Retromobile and found some renderings of a 1950s Packard "Pininfarina GT" fastback. He bought the renderings and, subsequently, befriended wood sculptor Peter Portugal. They decided to try building a two-passenger retractable hardtop that was based on the winning design of a contest sponsored by Saga magazine (the Pininfarina GT would come later). Peter started with a frame from a 1951 Packard convertible, then used the floorplan from a 1951 sedan. He sectioned the body three inches, moved the windshield back four inches, and shortened the trunklid (which was actually the hood turned backwards) seven inches. He then fabricated the full retractable top and mechanism, including a Plexiglass top.
Under the hood, a stock 327 straight-eight and Ultramatic transmission gives this one-off phantom its oomph. Offered by a prominent Texas collector, this magnificent "what-if" with impeccable craftsmanship is the ultimate expression of a proud marque whose will and talent was only exceeded by their lack of finances.