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View Full Version : The possible asnwer to why no photos exist of the '53 Sunroof car or the '63 Turtle



Chris_Dresbach
07-05-2012, 10:47 PM
After many months of debate and discussions between myself, Ed Reynolds, and John Bridges, we think we may have come up with the answer to why no original photos seem to exist of either my '53 or the Turtle prototypes.
It turns out that Studebaker didn't take photos of all their prototypes unless they were slated for production. Take the '47 Woody for example. Period photos exist of that car because it was within sight of production until at the last second. Since my '53 was never fully completed (hence no opening trunk) a photo of it was never taken, even though it was a functional car. The Turtle apperantly falls into the same boat. My Turtle had its basic shape formed, but since it never got a drive line, hull, or engine, it was never the "finished product ready for production", so no photo was taken of it. However, it is most likely a legitimate Turtle because it measures EXACTLY the same as the measurements I have for Turtle design #2 and #3. Photos exist of Turtle 2 and 3 because it was closer to production.

We also think that the '53 project may have been a late proposal for a '52 model after the Model N studies were dropped, and then real work on what became the '53 model began. However the grilles for my car are exactly the same size and shape as a production '53, so that is still left to be figured out.

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or have I been thinking on this entirely longer than I should be? :p

8E45E
07-05-2012, 11:08 PM
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions......

Ed Reynolds Sr. stated in his autobiography, he personally incinerated thousands of photos of prototypes when automotive production ceased in late 1963, and it was the "most disagreeable task he ever performed".

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8155/7512515946_eb1aefa424_b.jpg

Craig

Chris_Dresbach
07-05-2012, 11:11 PM
Ed Reynolds Sr. stated in his autobiography, he personally incinerated thousands of photos of prototypes when automotive production ceased in late 1963, and it was the "most disagreeable task he ever performed".

Craig

Don't think I haven't often thought about what might have been burned in that pile of photos, Craig. :(

PlainBrownR2
07-05-2012, 11:27 PM
That might have been Studebaker's way of keeping projects under wraps. If they took photos of them, then they'd get leaked to the public while it was still in the design stages, and result in ending up in the paper, or even worse, it's competitor. Now we have someone else building the same thing that Studebaker is building, or we now have an active rumor mill on a product that may or may not make it to production. It's in the same league as when current car companies put all of that blocky armor plating on a concept car, and why they take it to their top secret test tracks for testing. I don't think they thought that people would be looking for documentation 50 years after auto production stopped. Still, that literature would have made things sooooo much easier :).

Chris_Dresbach
07-06-2012, 12:04 AM
That might have been Studebaker's way of keeping projects under wraps. If they took photos of them, then they'd get leaked to the public while it was still in the design stages, and result in ending up in the paper, or even worse, it's competitor. Now we have someone else building the same thing that Studebaker is building, or we now have an active rumor mill on a product that may or may not make it to production. It's in the same league as when current car companies put all of that blocky armor plating on a concept car, and why they take it to their top secret test tracks for testing. I don't think they thought that people would be looking for documentation 50 years after auto production stopped. Still, that literature would have made things sooooo much easier :).

I agree. Back then Studebaker's were just another car manufacturer with competition. However it is unfortunate that they burned the records. What gets me is that they knew they were going out of business, done. At that point would it have really mattered if these photos got into the hands of somebody else? It's not like Studebaker was still going to build that car. And you're right, those records would have made things SO much easier. But this could bring up another statement. Maybe all the photos of unfinished prototypes like my two were burned with the rest of the archives? And also how much of Studebaker's engineering archives somehow managed to escape the flame and ended up in the Museum Archives, like photos of Turtle #3 that I have which technically, probably were intended to be burned with the rest of the photos. :confused:

PlainBrownR2
07-06-2012, 12:42 AM
To the SNM's Archives.....again!! :cool: You may have to get on their case to find any literature buried in their dark corners over there. As to why they still kept things under wraps until the very end. Well, they were still a company making a product, even if the ship was sinking. It wouldn't have done them much good if they came out with a hot product(like the Avanti), but end up having to scrap it, or shelve it, because someone else beat them to the punch. It would get even worse if they had any trademarks or patents on the product before Studebaker got theirs out, because now Studebaker may not be able to produce it, for current or future customers :(. That would also mean alot of potential money lost from Studebaker pockets to another company if that happened, and the product became successful :(.

I have a somewhat odd story to relate. Our late neighbor, had an Avanti he purchased after the plant had closed. I cannot recall the details, but one day he got a call from the boys at Chrysler Corporation, they wanted to buy his car for "study". I cannot remember if agreed to it or not, but a few years later, the Barricuda came out, and it appeared to have some of the Avanti design influences incorporated into the car, in particular that nice, large, backglass. Now, if the preproduction designs for the Avanti came out for the Avanti, before the Avanti actually came out, then that might have given Chrysler the upper hand in building their own Avanti, and denying Studebaker the opportunity we have today. This kind of corporate espionage was not only prevalent during Studebaker production, and continues until this day, it was even prevalent after the doors had closed, because it was a unique and hot design! :woot:

showbizkid
07-06-2012, 09:12 AM
James Nance did the same thing when he took over Packard - had the archives destroyed. Poor move, and short-sighted for any corporation. But I guess when you're shutting down a division, you never think that someday someone might want to see all that stuff -- at that point it's just a lot of paper.

studegary
07-06-2012, 12:56 PM
I have a somewhat odd story to relate. Our late neighbor, had an Avanti he purchased after the plant had closed. I cannot recall the details, but one day he got a call from the boys at Chrysler Corporation, they wanted to buy his car for "study". I cannot remember if agreed to it or not, but a few years later, the Barricuda came out, and it appeared to have some of the Avanti design influences incorporated into the car, in particular that nice, large, backglass. Now, if the preproduction designs for the Avanti came out for the Avanti, before the Avanti actually came out, then that might have given Chrysler the upper hand in building their own Avanti, and denying Studebaker the opportunity we have today. This kind of corporate espionage was not only prevalent during Studebaker production, and continues until this day, it was even prevalent after the doors had closed, because it was a unique and hot design! :woot:

The Barracuda came out as a 1964 model, so the design work on it had to be long before the South Bend Studebaker plant was closed. Cute story, but doesn't hold water.

Gunslinger
07-06-2012, 01:08 PM
It wasn't uncommon for car makers to buy examples of competitor's cars, but the body for the Barracuda was clearly based on the existing Valiant...in fact the early Barracuda carried Valiant badges along with the Barracuda emblems. To have seen the back glass and rear side window design of the Avanti in 1962 gave more than sufficient time to adopt those design cues for a car introduced in 1964. That was a relatively simple thing for Chrysler stylists to do. The AMC Tarpon which the Marlin was based on, carried the same design cues and is contemporary to the Barracuda, though the Marlin was introduced a bit later.

There are few coincidences in the auto world. The Avanti design pre-dated the Mustang long hood, short rear deck appearance by two full years, but it was marketed to a different audience. No one remembers that...the Mustang is credited with the "pony car" look. It was successful and wildly so...it gets credit. The Avanti gets a footnote in history.

Milaca
07-06-2012, 03:53 PM
James Nance did the same thing when he took over Packard - had the archives destroyed. Poor move, and short-sighted for any corporation. But I guess when you're shutting down a division, you never think that someday someone might want to see all that stuff -- at that point it's just a lot of paper.

Difficult to understand their way of thinking being that both companies had car clubs devoted specifically to each of them. What a great benefit it would have been for our club to have access to those files (photos and sketches,drawings) that were disposed of. Maybe someday someone will stumble upon the negatives for these photos in their attic insulation. ;)

62champ
07-06-2012, 05:47 PM
And to really put it in perspective - we are lucky to have all the photos and documentation that have survived.

When doing research in the archives in 1996, I heard when the City of SB, and then Syracuse University was looking after what was left, a lot of things went missing, were taken, or simply disappeared. Thankfully we still have what has remained - and so lucky to have someone like Andy Beckman to look after things.

PlainBrownR2
07-06-2012, 05:50 PM
The Barracuda came out as a 1964 model, so the design work on it had to be long before the South Bend Studebaker plant was closed. Cute story, but doesn't hold water.


Well, his story came from years of dealing with Studebaker as a racer on the strip and as member of a street rodder club. Who am I gonna believe here, a man and close friend who'd been in the trenches during that period, and told me he was setting up to purchase an R3 at the time the plant closed and getting the call the plant was shutting down while they were in mid transaction, as well as sending his first Avanti back to Studebaker's imminent torture rack because it had major issues on Avanti's beta model, which was followed by Studebaker sending a truck with a bunch of new ones to replace his old one, or an "armchair expert" I never met, telling me I don't know what I'm talking about...well there's not much of a choice here. Chrysler came to him sometime after the plant closed when he put one of Avanti's for sale, to purchase his Avanti for "dissection", which later resulted in some of that engineering finding its way into the Barricuda. Sorry pal, but you can't make this stuff up, and I find it a major waste of time to BS this stuff.

Guido
07-06-2012, 07:35 PM
This is what happens when you take things at face value without stepping back and having a reality check. You are simply telling us a second hand story which you are unable to authenticate, whereas Mr. Lindstom has indicated when the model was introduced and the lead time needed to put it into production. Why would Chrysler come to your "friend" when they could send an employee to a dealership and buy the car directly? We all know how time blurs facts and think of all the things we have been told at cars shows about the marque that are incorrect.

Can't support your "story" on this one...

PlainBrownR2
07-06-2012, 08:42 PM
This is what happens when you take things at face value without stepping back and having a reality check. You are simply telling us a second hand story which you are unable to authenticate, whereas Mr. Lindstom has indicated when the model was introduced and the lead time needed to put it into production. Why would Chrysler come to your "friend" when they could send an employee to a dealership and buy the car directly? We all know how time blurs facts and think of all the things we have been told at cars shows about the marque that are incorrect.

Can't support your "story" on this one...


No, he's taking Studebaker's history as face value as whatever major things that happened in history is really what happened in history, and none of the minor details that led up to that moment seem to matter. He doesn't know him, doesn't want to know about this stuff from other people behind the driver's seat, he doesn't care about the minor behind the scene things that occurred elsewhere in the country at the time Studebaker was in production. He doesn't want the little details involved that gave rise to things like the Barracuda's backglass. He's telling this to a guy that knew him since about 1993, and his stories never changed in the time that I met him. They came to him because he posted the car for sale as a private owner, but they never told him who they were until after they gave him the check from Chrysler Corporation. It was uncommon to do something like this either. It didn't involve a parade of brass coming to your door, just a couple of guys who saw an opportunity to pick up a car for real cheap. If he'd done his research, he'd also know Studebaker sponsored the West Chicago racing group he was in, which is how they came to ordering the R3, before they got "the call" that Studebaker was shuttering automobile production. Of course if he wants to rewrite the unpublished little stories over the years that I got from our friend that I knew personally, then that makes it far harder to believe what Gary is telling me.....that's unacceptable.

Guido
07-06-2012, 08:59 PM
No, he's taking Studebaker's history as face value as whatever major things that happened in history is really what happened in history, and none of the minor details that led up to that moment seem to matter. He doesn't know him, doesn't want to know about this stuff from other people behind the driver's seat, he doesn't care about the minor behind the scene things that occurred elsewhere in the country at the time Studebaker was in production. He doesn't want the little details involved that gave rise to things like the Barracuda's backglass. He's telling this to a guy that knew him since about 1993, and his stories never changed in the time that I met him. They came to him because he posted the car for sale as a private owner, but they never told him who they were until after they gave him the check from Chrysler Corporation. It was uncommon to do something like this either. It didn't involve a parade of brass coming to your door, just a couple of guys who saw an opportunity to pick up a car for real cheap. If he'd done his research, he'd also know Studebaker sponsored the West Chicago racing group he was in, which is how they came to ordering the R3, before they got "the call" that Studebaker was shuttering automobile production. Of course if he wants to rewrite the unpublished little stories over the years that I got from our friend that I knew personally, then that makes it far harder to believe what Gary is telling me.....that's unacceptable.
[/INDENT]

If this story is true, have your friend provide the documentation to back it up. If it was a Chrysler factory initiative, there should be record of it in their archives or it would have been revealed in publications over the years. Since your version is contrary to public perception, it is up to you to prove it correct. Unfortunately, knowing somebody personally and telling us that their version has never changed does not make it true. Evidence is your friend, until you have some this is nothing more than a nice story.

Roscomacaw
07-06-2012, 09:28 PM
I've visited the archives when they were still stored in the old brick bldg on Franklin(?) Street. And since we get treated to the odd old factory or engineering photo from time to time - I'd like to know if anyone who would KNOW a significant find of a photo - has ever looked thru ALL of the photos IN the archives. Are there things hyet to be discovered or just yet to be widely published? Is Andy Beckman - or other informed researchers - methodically going thru what there is or has that already been done??? Anybody know - for sure???

PlainBrownR2
07-06-2012, 09:29 PM
Fine, you have 50 years of archived literature to locate a check stub that may or may not have found its way to a wastebasket and a cut up Avanti bought by a couple men from Chrysler Corp. My friend has also been gone for about 2 years, so if you wanna ask, by all means, but don't expect an answer. There's a whole lotta of this stuff that the regular public doesn't know about, or pays attention to. So what, it's contrary to public perception, ask me sometime about things they do in the national lab system, the public is blind and deaf to what they know about that too, but oh, it's contrary to public perception, that's right, my bad. So, since he had a longstanding career in racing and working with Studebakers, gee, I guess I'll have to accept his side from the stuff he did.

8E45E
07-07-2012, 07:08 AM
Our late neighbor, had an Avanti he purchased after the plant had closed. I cannot recall the details, but one day he got a call from the boys at Chrysler Corporation, they wanted to buy his car for "study". I cannot remember if agreed to it or not, but a few years later, the Barricuda came out, and it appeared to have some of the Avanti design influences incorporated into the car, in particular that nice, large, backglass. Now, if the preproduction designs for the Avanti came out for the Avanti, before the Avanti actually came out, then that might have given Chrysler the upper hand in building their own Avanti, and denying Studebaker the opportunity we have today. This kind of corporate espionage was not only prevalent during Studebaker production, and continues until this day, it was even prevalent after the doors had closed, because it was a unique and hot design!

If Chrysler truly did buy his Avanti from him, it would have been for a different reason; not to use as a 'mule' for the Barracuda. As Gary correctly stated, the Barracuda came out in early 1964, a week before the Mustang, actually. The plant closed in December, 1963, which would have only been 4 months or so before the Barracuda came out; a much too short time window to still be searching for ideas and then get a car into production.

Craig

Guido
07-07-2012, 11:50 AM
Fine, you have 50 years of archived literature to locate a check stub that may or may not have found its way to a wastebasket and a cut up Avanti bought by a couple men from Chrysler Corp. My friend has also been gone for about 2 years, so if you wanna ask, by all means, but don't expect an answer. There's a whole lotta of this stuff that the regular public doesn't know about, or pays attention to. So what, it's contrary to public perception, ask me sometime about things they do in the national lab system, the public is blind and deaf to what they know about that too, but oh, it's contrary to public perception, that's right, my bad. So, since he had a longstanding career in racing and working with Studebakers, gee, I guess I'll have to accept his side from the stuff he did.

This has turned into a he said versus we said and without any evidence on your part I am afraid that most will just consider it another story. However, I would encourage you to do some research on the lead time necessary from design conceptualization until the product appears on a dealer's showroom floor. With that knowledge in hand, work back from the introduction date of the 'Cuda (April 1, 1964 IIRC) and see if your timeline works. Sadly, I think you will come to the same conclusion that we have reached.


If Chrysler truly did buy his Avanti from him, it would have been for a different reason; not to use as a 'mule' for the Barracuda. As Gary correctly stated, the Barracuda came out in early 1964, a week before the Mustang, actually. The plant closed in December, 1963, which would have only been 4 months or so before the Barracuda came out; a much too short time window to still be searching for ideas and then get a car into production.

Thank you...

Deaf Mute
07-07-2012, 05:08 PM
About the Avanti/Mustang refrence.
I have been told that some automotive magazine ran an interview with Lee Iacoca and he stated that he had a full size drawing (or photo) of an Avanti taped on the wall in Ford's design studio and told the engineers there that this was the design he was searching for... (for the future Mustang)...
I have looked for that magazine, but have not been able to find it. Also.. ever notice how Mustang wheel covers have a hint of the Avanti look ???
Studebaker was first by far with a pony car!!!

studegary
07-07-2012, 10:11 PM
This evening I thought of a possible connection that would make the Avanti/Chrysler story plausible. When Studebaker stopped Avanti production they looked to others to pick up production of the Avanti. I know that American Motors (AMC) was considered, but I do not remember if Chrysler was considered. If Chrysler was considering picking up production of the Avanti, this may have been a reason to buy someones Avanti to evaluate since they were no longer able to buy a new one (unless they got left over stock from a dealer). This is when Neuman-Altman picked up the production of Avanti from Studebaker. This is a bit of a stretch, but a possible connection between Avanti and Chrysler.

Chris_Dresbach
07-07-2012, 10:40 PM
Studebaker was first by far with a pony car!!!

Quote of the day right there, I like that!!