Packard Caribbean Convertible Coupe

The Packard Caribbean Convertible Coupe – 5588 (1955) was a stunning tri-colored convertible, powered by a brand new 352-cid, 275-hp OHV V-8 with dual four-barrel carburetors. Every power option was standard, except for air conditioning, and the car rode on electronically operated, self-leveling torsion bar suspension.

The Caribbeans were white over black with the third color – blue, green, red or pink, placed between the other two on a wide band that ran the length of the car at waist height, sweeping up over the rear fins to the twin antennas. “Cathedral window” rear taillights topped bumpers, through which the exhaust exited. Production was limited to 500 Caribbeans, which cost almost $6,000 – again nearly $2,000 more than a 1955 Cadillac convertible.

The new Packard V-8 encountered problems with oil pumps that were not powerful enough, and valve trains were starved to disastrous ends as a result. The electronic self-leveling suspension system also tended to fail on occasion due to bad ground connections. These troubles, coupled with the car’s high price, irreparably harmed its reputation, and ultimately spelled the end of the model.
Optional Equiptment

Radio ($102). Heater ($80). Power steering ($115). Powerbrakes ($40). Power seat ($70). Power windows ($108). Air conditioning ($647). Power antenna. Tinted glass. Wonderbar radio. Rear window defogger. Roll-up trunk light. Bolt-on wire wheel covers. Remote spare tire filler. Locking gas cap door. Rain vent shades. Curb feelers. Traffic light viewfinder. License plate frames. Door edge guards. Lighted vanity mirror. Drink holder and pocket pouch. Snap-in Car-Pet mats. Chrome rocker arm covers. Remote master cylinder filler. Fog lamps. A three-speed manual transmission was standard on all Clippers. Ultramatic Drive was optional on all Clippers at $199. Ultramatic Drive was standard and mandatory on all Packards. Overdrive transmission was optional on Clippers at $1 10. An oil bath air cleaner was standard with Packard; optional with Clipper. All Packards had dual exhaust with reverse flow mufflers and resonators. Available rear axle gear ratios included: (standard) 3.90:1; (Ultramatic) 3.23:1 and (overdrive) 3.90:1.

500 units of the 5580 model were manufactured, including this Caribbean Convertible.

Photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Packard (1955)

The 55th Senior Series models are a major facelift of the 1951-54 shell, but trunk lid and handle are carried-over from previous Series.

Trunk lid is shorter than those on closed cars to accommodate convertible stack – as is windshield.

Vee motif used throughout the car to tout the all-new Packard V8 motor, fitted with dual 4-barrel carburetors and backed by the new Twin Ultramatic automatic transmission as standard equipment.

Hood is distinguished from other Packard/Clipper models by a pair of stampings that terminate in faux scoops, and a prop rod is provided.

While PACKARD is spelled out in chrome letters across the hood of other Packard models, they are not used here (though the inner hood reinforcement has provision for them). Ribbed stainless side trim is not used, creating a third area for exterior color – available in four standard tri-tone paint schemes, though other color combinations could be ordered.

Gas door molding necessitates finger cove in upsweep molding. Interior trim is typically color-coordinated to exterior paint colors – including a headlining for convertible top.

Fender skirts and lower body moldings are standard. Cathedral-style taillights are an instant classic. Dual rear radio antennae are standard (though only one provides signal to receiver).

All exterior script plates are gold-plated, but none are used on trunk lid.

All-new Torsion-Level suspension is standard. (NOTE: While a few 55th Series Caribbean hardtops are known to exist, these were not standard production models, but converted from 55th Series Four Hundreds – likely done by dealers.)

Model name

Clipper Deluxe 225hp
Clipper Super 225hp
Clipper Custom 245hp
Patrician 260hp
Four Hundred 260hp
Caribbean 275hp

Chassis number

5540 Clipper Deluxe, Super
5560 Clipper Custom
5580 Patrician, Four Hundred and Caribbean

Body number

55×2 touring sedan
55×7 Panama / Constellation / Four Hundred (2-door) hardtop coupe
55×8 Caribbean convertible coupe

- $5,932 (1955) - V-8 OHV - 5766 cm3
- Normal - 275 HP
- - 11.1 s
- 4755 lbs - RWD (rear- wheel drive), automatic 2-speed gearbox
- - 111 mph
- 1955 - Length: 5523 mm / 217.4375 in, width: 1981 mm / 78 in, wheelbase: 3226 mm / 127 in
- Front brakes: 305 mm drum - Rear brakes: 305 mm drum. -
- 8.00x15 - 6V 100 Ah
- Electronically operated, self-leveling torsion bar suspension.

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