1956 Patrician owned by John & Bernice Payne
Our car is a 1956 Packard Patrician with the original 374
V8 and press button auto. The car’s odometer is now
showing approximately 146,000 miles. It has factory fitted
power steering, brakes windows, door locks and radio
aerial. It is also air conditioned, but this is after-market and
probably fitted by the Packard dealer as most apparently
were due to the factory having insufficient capacity to cater
for this optional extra.
We bought the car from Dick Benjamin of Southern
California, who had owned it for 22 years. Dick is a very
nice 74 year old gent who knows a tremendous amount
about Packards. He did in fact run a Packard service/repair
business in California prior to retirement and, although not
a qualified mechanic, has undertaken much mechanical
He rebuilt the engine and transmission of our Patrician and
both are working well. This was done initially in 1987 at
110,142 miles (believed correct), and the engine again at
130,702 miles after the previous crank regrind was deemed
unsatisfactory. The crank was replaced with one rebuilt and ground back to standard together with standard bearings. Many Packardians will be aware that the V8 engine can develop oil/lifter problems due to wear in the wiper vacuum pump which is attached to the oil pump. A fix for this problem was removal of the vac pump, rebuilding the oil
pump and fitting electric wipers (don’t know why they didn’t have them from the beginning). The wiper motor on this car is from a late 50’s Chev which is pretty much a bolt-in replacement. Depending upon the state of the rest of the engine appropriate reconditioning would also be
carried out including replacement of the lifters, preferably with premium ones.
Our Patrician has had all the correct engine work done, including electric wipers, reco’d oil pump and premium lifters. With both engine “rebuilds”, bore wear was still within standard specifications so reboring wasn’t necessary – they certainly made them out of tough stuff in those days! Interestingly Dick Benjamin was a personal friend of Dick Teague who was the senior Packard manager responsible for the ‘56’s design work. As a mark of respect, Dick drove
this Patrician in Dick Teague’s funeral procession. We understand the car has also been a mobile “extra” in a couple of Californian movies.
Since the cars arrival we have suffered the dreaded push- button syndrome, caused by a failed contact “finger” in the selector motor. Removal and repair has thus far fixed the
problem so we are keeping our fingers crossed. We have had a few other minor problems and have gradually worked through them. As soon as we can get off the bottom of our
motor trimmers son-in-law’s waiting list, the car will be re-trimmed inside, but the exterior will remain as is, even though the paintwork is looking a little old. Sometime previous to Dick’s ownership, it had been repainted in the correct Maltese grey.
Despite being LHD the car is a very comfortable cruiser and to us, much more so than our previous ’46 Clipper, especially as far as the driver is concerned anyway.