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56H-Y6
07-03-2010, 11:39 AM
Hi

Reading the ‘Conversation With Otis’ in the current July 2010 TW detailing his experiences body engineering the 1957 4-door station wagons, some oddly curious management decisions come to mind.

First, the body layout and basis: while the reasons for station wagon popularity where pointed out to management, i.e. recreational camping and usable interior space for cargo, both seems to have been badly compromised for a nonsense reasons. Mr. Romine was pushing for “…width between the wheelhouses… of 48 inches…. in order to handle modular building materials in the flat.” and “….the station wagon six longer…” to allow a person to lie down flat… ” Maximum usable interior space was his objective, creating additional sales features to give customers more good reasons to buy.

The additional body width was out of the question, that ship had already sailed with the 1953 model tooling; considering the massive expense in retooling involved in such a major change. The length he was lobbying for, though unspecified, may have been to move the tailgate rearward, rather than have the deep splash pan ahead of the bumper. While it functioned as a handy step for loading the roof rack, more interior space would have been the better purpose for this area.

The truly best solution, at least for addition length, would have been to use the Y-body 120.5 in.wb. chassis, sharing it with the President Classic and Economiler cabs. If additional inches of body space could be included with the tailgate at the bumper on the Y-body, the sales advantage over its competitors would be a real selling point.

Instead, management elects to base it on the shorter W-body, enclosed interior space dictated by use of the same top shell as the two-door wagon. Just the decision to save on tooling cost in this case likely cost more in lost sales because the customer perceived the wagon lacking the adequate interior space expected in a four-door wagon. The rationale for using the shorter, lighter body is the Champion engine wasn’t powerful enough to acceptably handle a longer, heavier body.

If this fear was the case when prototyped, why then didn’t they specify the 245 cu. in. flathead six still in production for trucks as the standard engine for the Champion four door station wagon? One would think management could see the benefit of additon volume demand for this durable, prefected engine.

In general, the lack of this optional larger six offering for all Champions, especially in the mid-’50’s as Champions became heavier is as much a puzzlement. Perhaps management felt buyers would opt for a Commander V-8, but had to know they had a large, entrenched customer base for which only six cylinder engines were the proper economical choice.

I will be interested to read your perspectives on these oddities and omissions.

Steve

StudeRich
07-03-2010, 12:41 PM
A very interesting topic, to my family owning a '57 Broadmoor, a Pelham and a Parkview.

I agree that was a very poor decision to not lengthen the rear body and also on Provincial and Broadmoor use the President Classic frame.

It's probably a good thing you did not mention the other topic of that story, the widening thing! That definitely had NO CHANCE of ever happening at Studebaker, because of the huge retooling cost, and that of fixing the limited width space in the Body Plant to Assembly Building covered bridge and all of the assembly lines etc. etc.

raprice
07-03-2010, 02:27 PM
I too was perplexed by the management decision not to use the longer wheelbase chassis for the 4 door wagon. They made many strange decisions that ended up" biting them in the rear". I know that money was always a sore point, but all they had to do was look at their competition to see what was needed to be competitive.

Rog

studegary
07-03-2010, 04:00 PM
I think that Steve gave an excellent account.

This reminds me of talking to the Chrysler exec's. that were involved in the 1983 (to 1986) Chrysler Executive Sedan and Chrysler Executive Limousine. They said that they couldn't make the K car wider, so they made it longer.

StudeRich
07-03-2010, 09:43 PM
http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa221/studerich/Loaded%20to%20the%20Forum/Cherries3g.jpg

StudeDave57 doing some CHERRY pick'n from his '57 Parkview 2 Dr. Wagon. :)

8E45E
07-03-2010, 10:25 PM
The longer wheelbase issue was addressed in 1960 with the introduction of the 4-door Lark wagon. It was on a 113" wheelbase, and had much better proportions that the '57 & '58 4 door wagons between the wheels.

If Studebaker made a 4 door wagon from 1954, it may have compared favorably to the competition as the rear cargo space was not great in many of them as well, but of course the competition got 'lower, longer, wider' by the time the 4 door wagon came out. Perhaps the '57 Packard wagon shouldn't have ever been produced. Its competition, Buick, Oldsmobile and Mercury all had brand new bodies that year that gained increased cargo space over the previous year with lots of glass area compared to the Packard. That rear section really made it look bad in comparison reports when those wagons were up against each other in various magazines at the time.

Craig

Warren Webb
07-04-2010, 01:50 AM
In addition, if they Had widened the body, the frame and rear axle would have to be widened also, although the truck Dana 44 rear axle was already there & wider, so that would have made the changes to the frame & that would have been limited to the crossmembers, a longer reach rod to the bellcrank, and longer tie rods. I have read by various journals in the past that the cowl & dash was the most expensive part to retool. Since in the years following 57-58 those parts were changed at least twice (61 & 63). How much wider would it have been to reach that dimention of 48+ inches? Look at all that extra metal used on the outer quarter panels to wrap around to the inside. Any extra weight on the vehicle would have been minimal at most. How wide was the bridge on the inside of the converyor from the body plant to the main assembly building? Based on pictures I've seen an increase as much as 6" (3" in each side) would still have clearance.

studegary
07-04-2010, 12:55 PM
In addition, if they Had widened the body, the frame and rear axle would have to be widened also, although the truck Dana 44 rear axle was already there & wider, so that would have made the changes to the frame & that would have been limited to the crossmembers, a longer reach rod to the bellcrank, and longer tie rods. I have read by various journals in the past that the cowl & dash was the most expensive part to retool. Since in the years following 57-58 those parts were changed at least twice (61 & 63). How much wider would it have been to reach that dimention of 48+ inches? Look at all that extra metal used on the outer quarter panels to wrap around to the inside. Any extra weight on the vehicle would have been minimal at most. How wide was the bridge on the inside of the converyor from the body plant to the main assembly building? Based on pictures I've seen an increase as much as 6" (3" in each side) would still have clearance.

It isn't the parts that make up the vehicle that creates the problem/expense of a wider car. It is the manufacturing line that is built for a particular track dimension.

HawkGT
07-04-2010, 06:21 PM
I've never owned a pre-1959 wagon, but one piece of rather poor body engineering on the Lark wagons is in the lower part of the rear quarters: there was NO thought given to draining water out of that area, resulting in bad rust problems even before the Wagonaire came out. And then after the roof track on the Wagonaire had a drain running to that area the area filled up really easily with water and silt. When I was a grease monkey at a Studebaker dealer from '63 to '66, while in school, I used to drill holes there when ever a Wagonaire came in for service and the boss would give me a few minutes to do it. That was New York state, and there was almost always water in there plus a lot of mud.

That and the other standard rust-out areas on Studes starting in '53 gave them a very poor reputation in rust country.

56H-Y6
07-29-2010, 10:11 AM
The longer wheelbase issue was addressed in 1960 with the introduction of the 4-door Lark wagon. It was on a 113" wheelbase, and had much better proportions that the '57 & '58 4 door wagons between the wheels.

Craig

Hi Craig

Thanks for pointing out this basic fact about the 1960 P-body four door station wagon. I surmise they based this model on the Y-body Economiler shell, in affect, correcting the mistake made with the 1957-1958 W-body based cars.

Credit need to be given as well for rationalizing all the four door models to the Y-body in 1962. Not only did this move simplify the production process but also gave all Studebaker customers the type of rear seat legroom that was among the best in it's class. Consider how much simpler production would have been from the Lark beginnings if the 109" wb had been all two door models except the two door wagon. That model and all four door sedans and wagons built on 113" wb., they could have had a Cruiser in the 1959 line.

That brings up another question, why, since they had the Y-body in production for the Economiler taxi cabs, did they not have a Cruiser version available 1961? I suspect the '61 Cruiser was one of Sherwood Egbert's first directives in ways to make the new '61 models more salable.

Steve

PackardV8
07-29-2010, 11:29 AM
In general, the lack of this optional larger six offering for all Champions, especially in the mid-’50’s as Champions became heavier is as much a puzzlement. Perhaps management felt buyers would opt for a Commander V-8, but had to know they had a large, entrenched customer base for which only six cylinder engines were the proper economical choice.

A bit OT here, but the reason all the US manufacturers installed crappy obsolete underpowered six-cylinder engines in their base model cars was to force buyers to buy up and pay more to get a decent engine and performance. The V8s cost only a very few dollars more to manufacture, but whole marketing structure was based upon the option list. Nickle-and-dime the customer for every little part which should have been included in the first place.

Many years ago, when Honda first introduced the Accord, they did a cost study and found it was actually less expensive to make all the cars the same higher content than to keep track of which vehicle didn't get which piece of the good stuff.

Having owned and driven every engine Stude made since 1950, other than an R3, I can attest from careful records, a V8 will give within one MPG the same economy as a Champion or Commander six-cylinder in the same vehicle, driven at the same rate of acceleration and speed. When heavily loaded, often the V8 will deliver better economy, as the sixes are wide open and straining their guts out. The sixes always had to geared lower to move the load, so at highway speeds, they are turning much higher RPMs and getting less economy and definitely less longevity.

Bottom line, in trying to appeal to the CASOs of the day, they were actually encouraging the buyer to choose an inferior product and driving experience. It wouldn't have made any difference in the long term survival of the company, but rational choices as to wheelbase for the wagon and V8s in anything other than bare-bones two-doors would have given us a lot more good cars today to enjoy.

jack vines

StudeRich
07-29-2010, 11:55 AM
Ditto Jack! :) And IF you were going to keep the Six, Studebaker did try their best to always stay up with the Jones' and most everyone did have a reasonable sized OHV Six, so building a brand new 232-235 c.i. OHV Six for the '59 Lark would have been well worth the money! Even buying AMC's 232 would have worked well.

Just think, many of those nice, cute little '59-'60 Lark VI's could have been saved instead of junked in 3-5 years! :D

And the U.S. Postal Service would have been MUCH happier with their neat little Zip Vans! :)

barnlark
07-29-2010, 12:25 PM
StudeDave57 doing some CHERRY pick'n from his '57 Parkview 2 Dr. Wagon. :)

That is a great picture, Rich! A wonderful cherry tree was also on my friend's farm whose father only owned Studebakers exclusively since 1947 until his death just a few years back. We needed a decent wagon like that for better access after the family went through his parts garage. There were always as many Studes on that property as there were cherries some years. That deck area fits those Vans perfectly.

DEEPNHOCK
07-29-2010, 12:43 PM
Man...
Parked under a cherry tree brings bad awful memories of what that tree did to five Fords, and one Studebaker Hawk...
Cherrys on the paint, dried up pits and skins, etched paint, bird poop....
Ich....
But the cherry's were good.. Lot's o' cherry pies!:p
Jeff:cool:



StudeDave57 doing some CHERRY pick'n from his '57 Parkview 2 Dr. Wagon.:)

8E45E
07-29-2010, 02:01 PM
Credit need to be given as well for rationalizing all the four door models to the Y-body in 1962. Not only did this move simplify the production process but also gave all Studebaker customers the type of rear seat legroom that was among the best in it's class. Consider how much simpler production would have been from the Lark beginnings if the 109" wb had been all two door models except the two door wagon. That model and all four door sedans and wagons built on 113" wb., they could have had a Cruiser in the 1959 line.

That brings up another question, why, since they had the Y-body in production for the Economiler taxi cabs, did they not have a Cruiser version available 1961? I suspect the '61 Cruiser was one of Sherwood Egbert's first directives in ways to make the new '61 models more salable.


It was the industry trend that made the compacts longer, and Sherwood Egbert recognized that fact as well, so made ALL four door sedans on the Y-body in 1962. What was NOT rationalized, unfortunately was the three-piece floorpan that made up a Y-body. Multiply the number of man-hours x an anticipated 100,000+ cars they planned on producing for 1962. Those extra hours to stamp and assemble the floorpan may have been able to get absorbed in the cost of a higer-end model, but not really on a Deluxe, or even a sparsely equipped Regal. That three piece floorpan remained until the end. As for the 1961 Cruiser, according to E.T. Reynolds, it was the dealers who wanted a longer compact, and got their wish for 1961.

Perhaps Studebaker was fortunate in that they did follow the industry trend. One would have wondered how Churchill's 100" wheelbase 'sub-Lark' would have done saleswise.

Craig

56H-Y6
07-29-2010, 05:59 PM
It was the industry trend that made the compacts longer, and Sherwood Egbert recognized that fact as well, so made ALL four door sedans on the Y-body in 1962. What was NOT rationalized, unfortunately was the three-piece floorpan that made up a Y-body. Multiply the number of man-hours x an anticipated 100,000+ cars they planned on producing for 1962. Those extra hours to stamp and assemble the floorpan may have been able to get absorbed in the cost of a higer-end model, but not really on a Deluxe, or even a sparsely equipped Regal. That three piece floorpan remained until the end. As for the 1961 Cruiser, according to E.T. Reynolds, it was the dealers who wanted a longer compact, and got their wish for 1961.

Craig

Hi Craig

Thanks for reminding me of E.T Reynolds comments that the dealers were instrumental in pushing management to offer the Cruiser for '61 and the industy trend that demanded the Y-body become the standard sedan, in response to longer compacts, such Pontiac Tempest, Olds F-85, Buick Special and Mercury Comet, the next move for the compact market.

As you point out, benefits to the bottom line may not have resulted, given the additional cost inflicted by the three-piece floorpan. I recall seeing that floor filler strip on my '57 President Classic when I did the body work. It would be less of an issue for the higher priced models but additional expense to reduce the unit profit on low end models.
By 1962, retooling the floor pan to a one-piece stamping was probably too costly for them to afford.

This brings another question to mind, will someone inform us as to whether the four door station wagons floor pans assembled from three-piece stamping as were all Y-bodies, or how they were done?

Steve

StudeRich
07-29-2010, 06:57 PM
Steve you do have to remember that your prior statement about Stude. righting their earlier error in not using a 120 1/2 in. Hawk/Pres. Classic W/B on the 4 dr. Wagons, was not really entirely fixed on the '60 4 dr. because it only used the '59-'61 2 Dr. Wagon's 113 in. wheelbase, still not as great as the too short '57-'58's with 116in.!
But of course the '57-'58's "wasted" a lot of W/B in the front end.
Sorry I can't check the floorpan on the Broadmoor, as the sides are not accessible right now to get into it.

[QUOTE=DEEPNHOCK;476852]Man...Parked under a cherry tree brings bad awful memories of what that tree did to five Fords, and one Studebaker Hawk...
Cherrys on the paint, dried up pits and skins, etched paint, bird poop....Ich....
But the cherry's were good.. Lot's o' cherry pies!:pJeff:cool:

Well Jeff, you do have to know that Dave wouldn't leave that Parkview out of the Garage overnight, let alone under a Cherry tree! :D

StudeDave57
07-29-2010, 08:47 PM
StudeDave57 doing some CHERRY pick'n from his '57 Parkview 2 Dr. Wagon. :)
HEY~~~
GET THAT GUY OFF MY CAR!!!!

Ooops-- I know that guy- he's okay... :rolleyes: