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1954 Packard Panther Daytona

During the 1950s, Packard introduced a compelling lineup of show and concept cars that swiftly elevated them to the forefront of pioneering American styling and design. One standout among these was the Panther, unveiled in 1954, which ingeniously amalgamated the essence of Packard's conceptual series. Crafted by designer Dick Teague, the Panther was constructed by Packard's contractor, the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation, which was simultaneously producing the acclaimed limited-production Caribbean convertibles. This striking design carried forward Packard's distinctive identity through elements such as the unique notched curve of the grille's upper opening, a recurring Packard characteristic throughout the brand's extensive history. The Panther exhibited lowered body sides accentuated by a graceful ridge sweeping down the flanks, a styling element enhanced by positioning the entire body lower over the frame. The hood, inspired by the Caribbean's scoop, featured a full-width overhang culminating in Packard's pioneering adoption of a wraparound windshield. The Panther's resounding success led to the creation of three more Panthers in subsequent years.

This very Panther, being the initial one built, served as a prominent show and concept car throughout the 1954 season. It embarked on a tour across the United States and even journeyed to Europe, making appearances in England and possibly Italy. The second Panther, known as the Daytona Panther, took to the sands of Daytona Beach driven by Jim Rathmann, achieving an official speed of 110.9mph and a later unofficial record of 131.1mph. This particular Panther, the first of its kind, is unique in being one of only two among the four Panthers powered by a 359cid Packard straight 8 engine, equipped with a McCulloch centrifugal supercharger generating 275hp. It boasts an innovative fiberglass body.

Obtained by the Mitchell Corporation from the Imperial Palace Collection in 1991, this Panther underwent a comprehensive restoration by its original builders, Mitchell Corporation, and was displayed in the company's corporate museum. Adorned in an elegant silver-gray livery, accompanied by gray leather upholstery and carpets, it was honored with the Preserving the Vision Award at the 1996 Eyes on Classic Design Concours. Additionally, it secured a class victory at the Meadowbrook Concours. Recently acquired directly from the Mitchell Corporation, this Panther stands as a testament to Packard's creative ingenuity and continues to captivate enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Sources: Barret-Jackson,