1956 Packard Panther Project

The Inspiration, page 1

1953 Grey Wolf II

Designed by Dick Teague in 1953, the Panther was originally to be named the Gray Wolf II in memory of the early Packard racing car. It was built using a Creative Industries fiberglass roadster (one seat) body on the 122" wheelbase and used the 359 cubic inch straight eight engine of 1954. However it was equipped with a McCulloch supercharger which resulted in 275 horsepower. The Number One car was fitted with a racing-type windscreen and taken to Daytona, Florida where it was timed at 131.1 mph. This was the fastest time ever recorded by a car in its class up to that time. After it performed so well at Daytona it officially became the Panther Daytona. Eventually, the "Daytona" part of the name was deleted when the hype wore off.

The Packard Panther lineal heritage started with the personal car of Edward Macauley, Packard's Director of Styling in 1951. Using parts from production Packards and styling ideas from John Reinhart, the Panther was mounted on a 122" wheelbase. In effect, it was a coupe with a shortened body covered by a fixed hardtop. It used parts destined for the 1952 model year including a 1952 bumper, '52 hood crest with 1951 lettering on a 1952 grill. Wheel covers were also 1951 and had the Patrician cloisonnè center emblems. The engine was a 327 cubic inch Packard straight eight connected to the Ultramatic transmission.

Since 1952 Packard had introduced a show car for each new model year. The Panther was the show car for 1954. It carried on a series of theme cars that included the Pan American (1952), the Monte Carlo (1952), and the Balboa (1953). Following the Panthers were the Request (1955) and the Predictor (1956). The Pan American never went into production but its lineal descendant, the Caribbean, did by that name. The other show cars listed above never went production.

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