Join Newsday's car culture discussion.
In the Garage: 1954 Packard Convertible
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1954 Packard Convertible owned by Wayne Hedlund
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
What better way to celebrate the first week of spring than to glide down Long Island’s roads in a topless powder-blue Packard? While the Packard would vanish from showrooms a few years later, it was still very much a luxury car in 1954. Putting yourself behind the wheel of a Convertible such as Hedlund’s would set you back $3,935, or just a few hundred dollars shy of the median annual income for American families that year.
“The 1954 is quite rare,” he says. “There were only 864 produced and about 70 accounted for today. It has a straight-eight, 359-cubic-inch engine (putting out 212 horsepower), automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes and a hydraulic top. It also has a radio and heater. It has a very soft suspension and a front seat that's like your living room couch.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“It was asleep in a shed in Yaphank,” Hedlund says. “I bought it from a Packard collector in poor condition and had it flat-bedded home.”
“It had the wrong engine in it when purchased, with a cracked block,” he says. “I searched for about a year to find the correct engine, which was a one-year-only item. When I found one, it had to be rebuilt. Most of the restoration done on this car has been mechanical front end, brakes, tank and fuel lines, etc. There are Packard parts vendors that have almost everything mechanical. Body and trim parts can be difficult to obtain.” He had the seats reupholstered and the convertible top replaced at a Hicksville restoration shop.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“I would recommend joining an active car club for the support and the camaraderie,” advises Hedlund, who also owns a 1940 Packard coupe. “I think it’s hard to enjoy a car as an investment. We drive these cars as often as we can and enjoy talking about them to people. The question I’m asked most often is, ‘Who made Packards?’”
Hedlund declines to put a value on the Convertible and says neither of his Packards is for sale “and probably won’t be in my lifetime.” The NADA Guides puts a “high retail” value of $62,400 on a 1954 Convertible without options.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Hedlund has nicknamed his Packard “Lucille.” “When I got the car, it just looked like it should be named ‘Lucille,’” he says. “She has been in two of my kids' weddings and has been on five Packard Club tours, which are usually about a week long. The longest one was about 2,000 miles to Virginia, West Virginia and all around to various places of interest.”