The Packard Balboa show car was unveiled

Monday 31st August 1953

The Packard Balboa show car was unveiled. The early 1950s was the era of the ‘dream’ car and Packard was an active participant. The Balboa X incorporated the prize-winning styling of two popular Packard predecessors, the Pan American and the Caribbean. It featured a fresh new approach to the upper body, the Canopy Top, which featured a reverse-slanted rear glass. Safety was a theme of the car as demonstrated by the reverse angle of the rear window which eliminated such hazards as snow and rain accumulation. This feature found its way into many Mercury and Lincoln models well into the 1960s. Greater headroom and less head load was also an advantage. The intent was that the window could be raised and lowered for ventilation, although the window was actually fixed on the show car. The show car was built for Packard by the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation in Michigan. The Packard Balboa was designed by Richard Teague, who succeeded John Reinhart as chief stylist at Packard. The car was briefly known as the Balboa-X, with the ‘X’ representing ‘experimental.’ Period press material describes only one Balboa, finished in Packard Ivory with a special maroon top. The inside is described as a Caribbean interior finished in maroon-and-white leather with embroidered Packard-crest medallions on the seat backs. Recent research suggests a second example was constructed for the personal use of Don Mitchell of Mitchell-Bentley. The car was held in a family museum for decades. That example was finished in blue and white with a naugahide interior. After retiring from the car show circuit in 1954, the Balboa was fated to be crushed, but it was taken out of the factory by farsighted workers and saved. The car made its first public appearance at the 2012 St. Johns Concours since its initial public tour in 1953.

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