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View Full Version : Interview with Designer who assisted in Lark Design = December Collectible Automobile



Cowtown Commander
09-17-2012, 09:51 PM
Just got my December Collectible Automobile and on page 70 was an interview with Del Coates who talked about working for Studebaker in 57-58 time period. Very interesting, I was surprised that anyone from that time period was still alive, and the revolation that photos of the Chrysler Valiant clay model shown to Duncan McRae by a former Chryler designer influenced the design of the 59 Lark. Interesting piece and hopefully someone can do a further interview with Del.

Would really like to see more of this from folks like Gene Hardig Jr and Virgil Exner Jr as they are probably among the very few left from Studebaker's final years.

Chris_Dresbach
09-17-2012, 10:14 PM
Del sounds like somebody I'd like to talk to. I will admit that for a long time I didn't think that too many original Studebaker engineers and designers were still around but the more I've looked around I found that a hand full are still alive and willing to talk about their old work. Since I started leading the tours at SI I've met all kinds of people that I thought were either dead or just moved away, etc. I had several decendants of the Studebaker family on one tour but there were two tours that I had Ford and Studebaker stylists and engineers. (usually during the tours I always get asked if I own any Studebakers and I always mention the prototypes, that's when the engineers approached me).

I will assume that just about everybody here who has ever bought a Studebaker part has seen the later model Studebaker packages that are blue and have a yellow S logo... The guy who designed that package is still alive and well, his name is Milton. Very nice guy and I'm glad I got to talk to him, he has some stories from Studebaker you would probably never hear anywhere else. I also met a Ford engineer from the '60s who has a strong liking for all things Studebaker, his name is Joe and, again, very nice guy and is another one I'm glad I got to talk to. I keep in contact with him because when I start tinkering with the '53 I want it to look like a prototype, and who could tell me how to build it that way than an engineer? :p

55 56 PREZ 4D
09-17-2012, 10:39 PM
Chris:
Are you writing this stuff or recording some way? Somehow keeping track of this information?
You are in an extremely unique position and with your youth an important link to what is essentially lost information.
While probably not earth shattering, important non the less.
Even if you only use it later on to tell interesting stories, Ya gotta keep it.

studegary
09-18-2012, 02:06 PM
Just got my December Collectible Automobile and on page 70 was an interview with Del Coates who talked about working for Studebaker in 57-58 time period. Very interesting, I was surprised that anyone from that time period was still alive, and the revolation that photos of the Chrysler Valiant clay model shown to Duncan McRae by a former Chryler designer influenced the design of the 59 Lark. Interesting piece and hopefully someone can do a further interview with Del.

Would really like to see more of this from folks like Gene Hardig Jr and Virgil Exner Jr as they are probably among the very few left from Studebaker's final years.

I haven't seen the article, but your summary seems a little off. Virgil Exner Jr. gave a very good talk at this years International. His father was a designer on what you call the Valiant. Junior went up to see him (and the model) and came back to Studebaker with some ideas, like the Lark grille shape. During the design phase, what would become the Valiant was the Falcon.

Cowtown Commander
09-18-2012, 02:39 PM
Sorry I missed Virgil's talk at this years International, completely missed the fact that he was giving a talk. A couple of times during Gil's interview in Collectible Automobile Gil relates that he has differing recollections from Virgil Exner Jr. As I recall the article there were 3 designs being worked on for what became the Lark ....1 by Del, 1 by Virgil Exner Jr and 1 by Duncan McRay. Both Gil and Virgil designs were much further along than Duncans, when a Chrysler Designer came to interview and had the photos of Chryslers clay model. It occured in the evening and Duncan called Gil into the office to look at the photos - Gil thought so there would be another pair of eyes to see the photos and help remember what they looked like. All three then worked on Duncan's model and that is what became the Lark. What really happened I don't know and it is interesting that probably the only two that are left from that time period have differing stories.

I always find it interesting that the a successful design like the Mustang has many fathers while it seems no one designed the Edsel. Gil did say that the Packard Hawk was not his design.