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1954 Packard Panther Daytona Roadster

In 1954, after the successes of the Pan American, Caribbean, and Balboa concepts, Packard ventured into a new level of uniqueness with its latest creation. Initially named the Grey Wolf II, it was later christened the "Panther," a fitting alliteration that matched its striking appearance and robust performance.

Designed by Dick Teague, the Panther boasted a revolutionary one-piece fiberglass body, an audacious choice considering its 200-inch length. Created by the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation, the design collaboration involved Packard's styling engineer Edward Macauley and engineering Vice President William (Bill) Graves, who championed modern design to enhance Packard's image. The Panther, based on the 122-inch wheelbase Cavalier chassis, took on a remarkable form – a sleek, low-profile two-seat roadster with sculpted features. Notably, it introduced Packard's first wrap-around windshield, a design aspect that would become significant in the 1955 Packard lineup.

Under the leadership of President James Nance, the Grey Wolf II/Panther project was expedited, aiming for a debut at the renowned Daytona Speed Week in early 1954. Despite the tight timeline, Teague swiftly crafted a scale model and collaborated with Mitchell-Bentley to fabricate the fiberglass body, utilizing up to one-inch-thick fiberglass for durability. Astonishingly, the Panther was completed in time for the event.

Powered by a Packard 359 cubic inches eight-cylinder engine and equipped with Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission, the Panther-Daytona achieved a speed of 110.9 miles per hour through official timing at Daytona Beach. This early performance later improved to an unofficial 131.1 miles per hour, reflecting the car's potential that was hampered by its rapid development timeline. Following its success, Packard and Mitchell-Bentley created three more Panthers for a nationwide tour, each generating attention and publicity. Subsequently, all four Panthers underwent updates at Mitchell-Bentley, with two receiving cosmetic enhancements and the other two undergoing more extensive modifications that incorporated Packard's 1955 styling elements, such as cathedral taillights and updated paint colors.


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