Updated: Nov 28, 2020
The restyling of the 1951 Packard was managed by John Reinhart, who became the styling chief in 1947. It was a well-received and well-executed car, but much of Packard's pre-war mystique had already been lost. Buyers were seeking V8s not straight-eights, and options such as automatic transmissions, power steering and brakes, and hardtop designs were becoming commonplace.
To revitalize Packard's image, Edward Macauley and Chief Engineer, Bill Graves, conspired on a series of concept cars. This car, known alternately as the Packard Panther, Phantom II, or Macauley Special Speedster, was the first. It was based on a 1951 Packard 200 Deluxe Sedan. The major modifications were the shortening of the roof and the lengthening of the rear deck. This one-off vehicle is powered by a supercharged straight-eight, has an early rear window wiper, and sports dual exhausts.
Originally conceived for a sportsman, the additional space could carry hunting gear or serve as lodging, but here, the contents of the additional area include a fridge, bar, and air conditioning unit.
The president of Packard, Edward Macauley had several Packard's built for his personal use starting in 1933 with his 'Brown Bomber.' Even after his retirement as president, a twenty-fifth series Special Speedster was built for him in 1952 on a modified 200 Deluxe Club Sedan. It had an eight-cylinder engine on a chassis with a 122-inch wheelbase, and it encompassed several custom features that would be repeated on the Packard Pan American and later the Packard Caribbean.
The 359 cubic-inch Packard inline eight is enhanced with the addition of a McCulloch supercharger. Other features on this car are special side chrome trim, dual exhausts, and rear windshield wipers. It was the first Packard to use a wraparound windshield.
Famed singer and auto enthusiast James Melton owned the car in the mid-1950s and installed a Chrysler engine, transmission, dashboard, and tail lights. The car was repainted a deep blue around the same time.
The current owner found this car in a deplorable condition. Three years were spent restoring this car back to its original glory. The original supercharged engine was located and returned it to its rightful place under the hood. While stripping the paint they found the original body color was maroon and had the car repainted. The roof-mounted spotlight was not reinstalled.