The 1955 Packard Predictor is the only car missing from the
Ralph Marano collection, but it, too, will be shown at the Fairfield
County Concours d’Elegance.
The Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance will host the world’s first display of an example of each Packard Concept Car ever built. New Jersey collector Ralph Marano has agreed to display his entire collection at the Sept. 13 event at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, CT. The “missing link”, the last ever Packard Concept Car, the 1956 Packard Predictor is coming from the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana.
While one or two of these concept cars were built in numbers of two or sometimes four, most of them are one-and-only.
Marano has been collecting Packard Concept Cars for over 20 years and has displayed some of them on and off, winning concours awards where he showed them. “This is going to be the first time ever that all of these cars will be seen together,” says Marano. “They all had their purpose and they all had their time, so they never were seen publicly together in one spot.”
On display will be the 1948 Packard Vignale, the 1952 Macauley Coupe, the famous 1952 Pan American, the 1953 Packard Balboa, the 1954 Packard Panther, as well as the aptly named Packard Request from 1955. The 1956 Packard Predictor completes the display.
“I imagine this will be a historic moment,” says Concours Chairman Bill Scheffler. Our guests have come to expect unique displays which can be seen nowhere else. “But something of this magnitude is even new for us.”
Marano’s cars will reach the location of the Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance, the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, CT, to the event by special transport from New Jersey.
Says Marano, “these cars are very special to me, it will be the first time all of my collection will be on display. I hope that the visitors of this magnificent event will enjoy their beauty and historical significance just as much as I do.”
THE CONCEPT CARS SCHEDULED FOR DISPLAY
The very first of these concept cars is the 1948 Vignale. Very little is officially known of this car. Marano found hardly any documentation or press articles about the car, despite a long search and a visit to the Vignale design factory in Italy. “It has been in Road & Track in 1951, that’s true, but not much was said about it,” says Marano. The car actually started as a 1939 model in Italy and remained carefully hidden during the war. It was not completed until 1948. It later turned up in a used car lot in San Diego in 1953. Ralph bought the car in the early 1990s and finished its restoration in 1994.
1952 Pan American
This was Packard chief designer Richard Arbib’s personal car. Originally intended as a race car, it is now painted the original green gold paint, which contains 24 carat gold. Details on the car include maps of North and South America, intended to elicit South American’s interest in buying Packards. Six Pan Americans, the basis of the Packard Caribbean, were made in five to six weeks as promotional cars and sent to different parts of the country.
1952 Macauley Coupe
This coupe was built for the son of Ed Macauley, who was head of styling at the time. It features a unique supercharged engine that was painted red. It originally had a spotlight on top, which Marano removed. Ralph bought the car in 1986 after it had had many owners and was far from original. Ralph had it restored, and with a great stroke of luck, found the original engine in the late 1990s.
He was talking to a dealer at Hershey and when Marano mentioned he owned the Macauley Coupe, the dealer said he had the original engine! This car is the first coupe to be equipped with a rear windshield wiper.
1953 Packard Balboa
Only two Balboas were made, both of which are now part of the Ralph Marano collection. He is the third or fourth owner of the car he will be bringing, and the car is next on his list to be restored.
1954 Packard Panther
Marano owns no less than two of the original four Panthers. Made of fiberglass, both cars were subsequently modified by Creative Industries.
1955 Packard Request
The Request’s grille reflects the Packard customers’ requests for a return to the vertical prewar radiator grille. This car features a fiberglass hood and a V-8 engine as well as Caribbean trim on the rear quarter.
1955 Packard Predictor
The Predictor is not just the only Packard Concept Car missing from the Ralph Marano collection but it is also the most modern of them all, being built in 1955 and making its debut at the Chicago Auto show in 1956.
The Predictor, a radically designed two-door coupé designed by Richard Teague, was indeed fully operational, powered by a Packard V-8 engine with 300 hp. The Predictor was built by Italian design experts Ghia Industriale in Turin. A long, low, wide body with the nameplate Packard vertical grille and hidden clamshell headlamps, a large wraparound front windscreen, removable panels above the doors (years later so called T-tops made their next appearance on the famous Pontiac Firebird Trans Am), and portholes in the roof sail panels along with “cathedral” taillights mounted in the large rear tail fins set the car apart. Many features of the Predictor were meant to find their way into the 1956 model year, but as we know today the production of wholly engineered Packards ceased in June of 1956. The last Packards that came off the production line in 1958 were barely disguised Studebakers.