Clipper (automobile)

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Clipper was a stand-alone make of automobile produced by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation in 1955–1956 for the 1956 model year only. Clipper was aimed at the middle price field of American automobiles which included Dodge, Oldsmobile, and Mercury.

While first used as an upscale model name beginning in 1941, attempts by Packard (and later Studebaker-Packard Corporation) President James Nance to spin off the Clipper name as a stand-alone make began in the early 1950s when the Clipper name was used on Packard's least expensive line of automobiles. Nance believed that as a Packard model, the Packard Clipper was diluting Packard's standing as a luxury automobile marque. For the 1956 model year, the status of being a stand-alone make was emphasized by creating a separate Packard Clipper division within Studebaker-Packard and the company required Packard-franchised dealers to also execute a separate Clipper Dealer Sales Agreement in order to sell the line. Studebaker agencies in areas not covered by separate Packard dealers were allowed to sign Clipper franchise agreements (and could also take on the regular Packard line as well, subject to factory approval).

Clippers began receiving unique trim and rear quarter panels in 1954, and when Packard introduced its heavily redesigned model in 1955, the Clipper retained its older rear sheet metal while receiving two-tone combinations that were unique to its models. For model year 1956, when the Clipper had at last become a stand-alone make, the vehicles received new rear sheet metal and tail-light treatments. Clipper's logo was a ship's wheel. Clippers were sold not only through Packard dealers but also some Studebaker dealers.

Clipper marketed two hardtop coupes, the Panama in the Super model line and Constellation in the Custom range. Both were carry-over model names from the 1955 model year.

Mid-year, dealers began complaining that consumers were lukewarm to the cars because they were true Packards and demanded that the Packard name appear somewhere on the cars. Nance refused at first, feeling that placing the Packard name on the cars would undo his plan to save the Packard name for luxury automobiles. However when Dealers began defecting to Mercury franchises, Nance gave in, fearful that the shrinking number of dealers would harm the company more than just the Packard marque.

Following the closure of Packard's Detroit, Michigan factory in 1956, the Clipper marque was discontinued, although the Clipper name was applied to 1957 Packards built at Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana factory.

Also see: Packard Clipper

Clipper Models 1956 & Production

  • Clipper Deluxe
    • 4dr Sedan (5,715)
  • Clipper Super
    • 4dr Sedan (5,173)
    • 2dr Panama hard-top (3,999)
  • Clipper Custom

Total Clipper production for 1956: 18,572 (excludes exports, if any)


  • Maloney, James H. (1994). Studebaker Cars. Crestline Books. ISBN 0-87938-884-6. 
  • Langworth, Richard (1979). Studebaker, the Postwar Years. Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-87938-058-6. 
  • Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3. 
  • Packard Info -Free online library of Packard Information.
  • Packard Clipper division, Studebaker-Packard Corporation, Clipper Dealer Sales Agreement, Studebaker-Packard Corporation, 1956, company forms 59 and 80-698