PCH, Carpocalypse Past Edition: '56 Hudson Hornet or '57 Packard Clipper?S

It's Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Since the ongoing Carpocalypse is on everyone's minds, let's go with the late-50s Carpocalypse today!

I haven't had time to do many Project Car Hells lately, due to all the work caused by my personal Hell Project (which has been fully redecorated and looks far more evil than it did the last time you saw it). Last time we were here, the Mazda 323 GTX edged out the Shelby Dodge by a 55:45 ratio. Today we're going to reminisce about the good ol' days of the late 1950s, when recession coupled with the Big Three relentlessly crushing all competition resulted in rough times for marques such as Kaiser, Nash, Hudson, Packard, Frazer… well, you get the idea. Today we're going to take a look at a couple of projects that hail from their makers' final gasps for corporate breath: Hudson and Packard!

Packard purists tend to frown on the "Packardbaker" era, when Studebaker- itself on the financial ropes, though with nearly a decade of body blows left to absorb- badge-engineered its cars with Packard emblems. A painful fate for the once-upscale Packard brand, to have a buggy manufacturer owning its name, but a half-century has softened the blow, and the Packardbakers are actually considered pretty cool-looking machines nowadays. Why, even a diamond in the rough like this 1957 Packard Clipper could be made into a stunning machine, whether you take the restomod or numbers-matching restoration approach. For only 600 bucks, you get quite a bit… quite a bit of iron oxide, that is. But don't stress about that, because the seller states "the motor seems to be all there." We'd suggest setting it up with the supercharged 289 out of an Avanti; we suggest not putting a small-block Chevy in it, because some engine swaps are just plain wrong.

The Hudson story differs from Packard's in that the case could be made that all the mergers that eventually formed AMC from the corpses of several dead automakers eventually led to Renault and Chrysler, which still exist today. Still, 1956 and 1957 was really the final gasp for true Hudsons, and owning one from that era would give you, like, this totally ironic commentary on the current state of the American auto industry (of course, by the time you finished the project, there might not be an American auto industry, but we have no choice but to think positive thoughts when the flames of the Hell Garage are all around us). You figure it's tough to find a Hudson at anywhere near the same price as that Packard, but check it out: this 1956 Hudson Hornet, also priced at $600. Don't let the fact that this project is so hellish that it's already destroyed at least one marriage ("lost the house and the wife. needs to go now") scare you off, and the fact that it sat unpainted through three rainy NorCal winters shouldn't cause you the least bit of worry. It's still got the 308 flathead- yes, the same engine that owned NASCAR in the early 50s, so all you need to do is… well, OK, everything.