1952 Packard Panther Macauley Coupe

A New Era of Styling: John Reinhart’s Vision

In 1951, Packard embarked on a transformative restyling journey under the guidance of John Reinhart, who had assumed the role of styling chief in 1947. Despite producing a well-received and expertly designed vehicle, Packard faced challenges in regaining the pre-war prestige it once held. The automotive landscape was evolving rapidly, with buyers increasingly expecting features like V8 engines, automatic transmissions, power steering, and hardtop designs.

Concept Cars to Rejuvenate Packard’s Image

President Edward Macauley and Chief Engineer Bill Graves turned to concept cars to breathe new life into Packard’s brand. The first of these innovative vehicles went by several names: the Packard Panther, Phantom II, or Macauley Special Speedster. This exceptional car was crafted from a 1951 Packard 200 Deluxe Sedan, featuring essential modifications such as a shortened roof and an extended rear deck. Equipped with a supercharged straight-eight engine, an early rear window wiper, and dual exhausts, this car showcased a forward-thinking design.

Luxury Redefined: The Special Speedster’s Unique Features

Initially intended for a sportsman, the Macauley Special Speedster featured extended rear space to house a fridge, bar, and air conditioning unit, epitomizing luxury. Edward Macauley, known for commissioning bespoke Packards like the ‘Brown Bomber’ in 1933, continued this tradition even after his presidency. In 1952, a twenty-fifth series Special Speedster was built for him on a modified 200 Deluxe Club Sedan, featuring an eight-cylinder engine on a 122-inch wheelbase and custom features that would later appear on the Packard Pan American and Packard Caribbean models.

Innovative Engineering: The Heart of the Special Speedster

One of the standout features of the Special Speedster was its 359 cubic-inch Packard inline-eight engine, enhanced with a McCulloch supercharger. The car also boasted unique side chrome trim, dual exhausts, and rear windshield wipers. Notably, it was the first Packard to feature a wraparound windshield, a design that would become more prevalent in future models.

A Celebrity’s Touch: James Melton’s Modifications

In the mid-1950s, the Special Speedster found a new owner, a famed singer and auto enthusiast named James Melton. Melton made significant modifications, installing a Chrysler engine, transmission, dashboard, and taillights and repainting the car in a deep blue, a departure from its original color.

Restoring Glory: The Modern Revival of the Special Speedster

The current owner discovered the Special Speedster in severe disrepair. Over three years, a meticulous restoration was undertaken to return the car to its former glory. The original supercharged engine was located and reinstalled. The car’s original maroon color was identified during the restoration, and the vehicle was repainted in this authentic hue. Although the roof-mounted spotlight was not reinstalled, the car was otherwise restored to reflect its original specifications.


A Testament to Packard’s Legacy

The restored Macauley Special Speedster now stands as a testament to Packard’s innovation and the company’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of automotive design and luxury. This one-of-a-kind vehicle not only highlights the creativity of Edward Macauley and Bill Graves but also embodies the Packard brand’s rich history and enduring legacy.

Our mission is to take you on a thrilling ride down memory lane, exploring the history, design, and unforgettable moments that define the golden era of automobiles.

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