1954 Packard Cavalier - $18,900
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  • Overview & History
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Wearing a beautiful combination of Meridian Blue over Polaris Blue, it’s a big, handsome sedan that’s understated in a way few ‘50s cars are.

Last of the straight-8 Packards. Mostly original car with one repaint in great colors. Strong-running 327 cubic inch straight-8 with 4-barrel carburetor. Unusual factory A/C, power steering and brakes. An attractive ‘50s cruiser that’s not the same old thing.

The Cavalier was Packard’s senior model in 1954, offering the traditional buyer the kind of luxury and quality that they had enjoyed since the 1930s. While is debatable whether that was part of Packard’s downfall, there’s no arguing that even in 1954, this car felt special. There’s a tangible feeling of quality throughout that belies the car’s price tag today and the company’s dire straights in the mid-50s. Wearing a beautiful combination of Meridian Blue over Polaris Blue, it’s a big, handsome sedan that’s understated in a way few ‘50s cars are. In fact, “understated” was a Packard hallmark, but the closer you look, the more details stand out. Note the little fins on top of the headlight rings, the side trim that highlights the muscular quarter panels, and the door handles neatly integrated into the side trim to make them almost disappear. There were still some brilliant guys at work here. The car was repainted perhaps 20 or 25 years ago but the work is holding up well, with a nice shine that looks period-correct and excellent stainless and chrome that really sparkles. The familiar Packard grille still has echoes of the original shape and the hood ornament is still a cormorant, which dates back to the ‘30s. There are a few signs of age and use, of course, but the car presents quite well and represents a lot of luxury for the money.

Exterior notes: Nice trim, older repaint holding up well. A few minor bubbles on the rockers but not serious. Lenses and glass very good. Doors close like a bank vault with good gaps all around.

We believe the interior is mostly original and holding up well, supporting the believe that the 54,000 miles on the odometer are a correct reading. There are, of course, some signs of age like the discolor carpets, but we’re not so sure we’d be in a hurry to replace anything. It has an inviting, all-of-a-piece feel that suits the big sedan just fine. The big steering wheel frames a simple set of gauges that cover the basics, with working warning lights for the generator and oil pressure. Secondary controls are underneath with heater and defroster controls flanking the radio speaker in the center stack. This car is equipped with a rather rare FrigiKar air conditioning system that includes a large chiller in the trunk and ducts coming out of the rear package shelf. The system is not operational but it is complete, so it could probably be made functional if that’s what the next owner decides to do. The back seat area is incredibly spacious and the upholstery looks quite fresh, so there hasn’t been much traffic back here. There’s a newer headliner overhead that’s in excellent condition and the trunk has been reupholstered with blue carpet that looks tidy. It also includes a full-sized spare and jack assembly.

Interior notes: Possibly original upholstery in good condition. Back seat is excellent. Carpets are discolored but in good condition. Factory A/C complete but inop. Gauges all work. Radio inop.

1954 was the final year for Packard’s legendary straight-8 engine. In the Cavalier, it displaced 327 cubic inches and used a 4-barrel carburetor to make a fairly robust 180 horsepower. Impeccably smooth, it’s really the torque that makes these engines special. It starts easily, idles nicely, and just behaves like a luxury car engine should behave. There’s a big radiator up front to keep things cool and the A/C hardware is neatly hidden out of sight—even the compressor is mounted down low where it doesn’t dominate the engine bay. It’s got a 6-volt electrical system that spins it over easily, so no concerns about a 12-volt “upgrade” that isn’t needed and it’s reasonably tidy in the engine bay. We don’t believe the engine has ever been opened, but with just over 50,000 miles on the clock, it should have plenty of life left in it. Packard’s 2-speed Ultra-Matic automatic transmission shifts cleanly and allows the straight-8 to do the heavy lifting without a lot of fuss. 3.54 gears in back mean it’s a comfortable highway cruiser at today’s interstate speeds and the suspension has that pillowy soft ride you’d expect. The car has never been fully restored, so don’t expect a highly detailed undercarriage, but as a Texas car, we can detect no critical rust or rot and the floors are quite solid—even the spare tire well is in excellent condition. There’s a newer exhaust system that gives it a hushed tone and newer shocks to help with the ride quality. Steel wheels with hubcaps wear 7.60-15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whites for an appropriate ‘50s look.

Mechanical notes: Stars and runs well, a little grumpy when cold. Very correct under the hood, looks mostly original. Windshield wiper motor missing on firewall. Starter and generator recently rebuilt. New muffler and rear shocks. Very solid but not shiny underneath.

Documentation includes the original owner’s manual.

The Packard name still resonates today simply because they were built up to a standard, not down to a price. Even when the writing was on the wall, Packard insisted on building the very best cars they possibly could. Today their low survival rate makes them stand out at shows and if you’re looking for an unusual ‘50s cruiser that still has good parts availability and club support, this Cavalier is a good choice. It feels tight and smooth like a low-mileage car should and has clearly lived a good life. For the money, we think this is a lot of Packard. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1954 Packard Cavalier
Price: $18,900
Stock Number: 121001
Odometer Reading: 54,427
VIN: 54723612
Engine: 327 cubic inch straight-8
Transmission: 2-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.54
Wheelbase: 127 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 7.60-15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whitewalls
Exterior Color: Meridian Blue over Polaris Blue
Interior Color: Gray cloth
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