How Packard's Last Concept Shaped A Generation Of Car Design

You're looking at the seldom-remembered 1957 Packard Predictor concept, one of that company's last, futile attempts to stimulate interest in its products.

Dick Teague is best known for his work at AMC where he produced designs of almost elegant simplicity. His work there was typified by clean, simple lines devoid of affectation. So where the heck did this come from?

The brain child of Packard design boss Bill Schmidt, the Predictor was built by Ghia and made its debut at the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Most of the design credit goes to Dick Teague who had been with Packard since 1951.

The Predictor actually ran, although not very well, and was powered by a 352 cubic inch Packard V-8 producing 300 horsepower. It featured a push-button transmission, reversible seat cushions, sliding roof panels which would move out of the way for easier entry and exit and a retractable rear window. Its many servo motors didn't always work properly and frequently shorted out.

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Predictor may actually have been an appropriate name for the car as many of its design elements were later found on other cars. The most obvious is the design of the roof and retractable rear window which ended up on the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, the 1958 Continental Mark III and the Mercury Breezeway. The hidden headlights could easily remind one of the 1963 Corvettes and the pronounced proboscis is believed to have predicted the Edsel's ox yoke grille, although it must have influenced later Pontiac design, as well.

Despite its influence on the design of other manufacturers cars, the Predictor did little to stave off Packard's demise. The car became part of Studebaker's archives and is now on display at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

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