Tuesday, April 29, 2014
1948 Packard Eight Concept
In 1948, Packard sales were declining against the might of GM and Ford while Carrozzeria Vignale was headed in the other direction. The Italian coachbuilder offered the possibility of revitalize the Packard line and invigorate stagnate sales. Alfredo Vignale had perfected his craft at Pinin Farina's brother's firm. When World War II came to a close, he opened his own shop. Before long, the press took notice.
In order to liven up the Packard line, seven concept cars were ordered, including this Convertible Coupe, the only Packard with Vignale coachwork. Designed by Alfredo Vignale in 1948, the innovative body is mounted on a prewar 1939 Packard One Twenty chassis. The Packard One Twenty was Packard's junior series model and the first moderately priced Packard.
The chassis was relatively inexpensive, yet dated, but the body was modern and memorable. It was done to a level of quality of a much more established coachbuilder. Up front, the hood opens on either side or can be removed altogether, in similar fashion to a factory 1948 Packard. Inside, the gauges are in kilometers, a hint to its European origin. In the back are taillights sourced from a fiat. Power is from a 282 cubic-inch straight eight offering around 120 horsepower. Coupled with the lightweight aluminum body, the Vignale Packard is certainly faster than the standard One Twenty.
Currently, the Packard is finished in black with a black convertible top. In the back there is a luggage rack that holds a suitcase.
The Vignale Company would prosper for many years. In the 1960's, a factory was built near a Fiat plant. Much of the work that followed were Vignale-bodied Fiats. As the 1960's came to close, the factory was purchased by Alejandro DeTomaso. Tragically, just three days after the sale, Alfredo Vignale perished in a car crash. The newly purchased factory was used by DeTomaso to build Panteras. In 1973, Ford acquired Ghia (a company acquired by DeTomaso just prior to its purchase of Vignale) and Vignale.
For many reasons, the Vignale Packard is a special concept. It is road legal, functional, and elegant. At the time, it showed a new styling direction for the company and the talents of Vignale.
The current caretaker of the car purchased it in 1989.