View Full Version : Why didn't Studebaker do this?

04-15-2006, 05:39 AM
I think a rag-top GT looks absolutly stunning,wonder why Studebaker never put them into production?
Is it true,as this seller says,that they did in fact build a proto-type?
I realise the reason must have been due to Studebakers financial dire straights,but I can't see how they would'nt have sold enough of a car that looks this good to make it worth while.
The seller dosen't say,but I would think that extra frame stiffing measures would need to be taken,as GT's are "K" models.
Still,this is a beauty,not to mention a R-1 4-speed.

04-15-2006, 06:33 AM
I think you've likely answered your own question - i.e. by the time this car came out The Studebaker-Packard Corporation were in financial difficulty, and as such, people weren't buying enough of their cars to provide the capital necessary to build such a vehicle. Why? Because they don't want to be stuck with an orphan - no dealers or manufacturer - where will I get parts? The value of the vehicle may be less, it's a cascading effect - a shaky company - leading potential customers to look elsewhere despite the product being good - eventually leading SP to cease car production.

What they "may" have done in other circumstances is to sub-contract out the job to another company say like Karmann, who make the convertible versions of the VW Golf, i.e. send the bodies to Europe (or make them there as I believe Stude's were built in Europe) - and get the finished cars back for sale.

The S-P Corporation also had many other subsidiaries making everything from Superchargers (Paxton) to Appliances and even an Airline for a time, many of which would have been profitable, thus they would put their limited financial resources into those businesses instead.

It's for the others to confirm the existence of a prototype, though it's not unlikely that one was built, there were other prototypes abandoned in the South Bend factory after closure - probably in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend by now, also the fact that the builder was an ex SP engineer and used existing plans. It would be good to learn what happened to the prototype and the other Convertible conversions made.

I hope this one goes to a good home, I imagine there will be a "Lot" of work to do to get it up to scratch but achievable.

John Clements

Avantilover your South Australian Studebaker lover!!!

04-15-2006, 12:22 PM
I think it's pretty cool.:) I have a less than flattering regard fot that rear seat cover. It just looks clunky.[}:)] But I DO think if it were executed better, it would be a good thing.
We're really pretty lucky with what DID come from Studebaker in the final decade of their automobile making. The desperation to regain a solid footing in the auto market made for some interesting limited production models as attempts at generating floor traffic in the dealerships.:D

Miscreant at large.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President 2-dr
1955 President State
1951 Champion Biz cpe
1963 Daytona project FS

04-15-2006, 12:24 PM
quote:Originally posted by Transtar56

I think a rag-top GT looks absolutly stunning,wonder why Studebaker never put them into production?
Is it true,as this seller says,that they did in fact build a proto-type?

Studebaker built a factory 1953 convertible prototype. In 1954, it was updated to look like a 1954 model (grilles, dash, trim). The color was also changed then. Many people think that there were two prototypes because of the update of the '53 to be a '54. I have seen that prototype many times over the years and it still exists.

Gary L.
1954 Commander Starliner (restomod)
1959 DeLuxe pickup (restomod)

04-15-2006, 02:13 PM
That cover looks like the one they made for the Thunderbird Sports Roadster, but not as nice however it was like a proto type so if put into production I'm sure they would have cleaned up the lines and material. I would love to see this car in person.

1961 Lark

04-15-2006, 04:38 PM
I believe this car is the one that was built by a Stude lover in the State of WA. He also built a Packard Hawk as a convertible. The Packard is currently in a museum and they are advertising it as a one off factory prototype. Both cars are painted a Camaro Blue. I have not seen either car in person but I know the Packard Hawk has made the rounds. It was in WA then CA then TX and now is here in the midwest.
I believe it was discussed in an early set of posts here.


04-15-2006, 05:17 PM
I've seen a couple of nice-looking custom '53 convertibles:
Here is Steve Hudson's car:

Jim Maloney's car was built using a cut-down Lark convertible top:

Gary Ash
Dartmouth, MA
'48 M5
'65 Wagonaire Commander
'63 Wagonaire Standard

04-15-2006, 08:26 PM
Anybody got any pics of the original 53 convertible prototype? Man, just imagina what that think would bring on ebay... [:0]

Matthew Burnette, the 16 year old Stude nut. South Georgia Chapter
63 Daytona HT (project)
51 Stude dump truck (yes, I won the raffle)
52 Commander Starliner (basket case)

MANY more Studes in the family and a few parts cars
And here: http://community.webshots.com/user/mbstudepagetwo

04-16-2006, 12:04 PM
quote:Originally posted by mbstude

Anybody got any pics of the original 53 convertible prototype? Man, just imagina what that think would bring on ebay... [:0]

Somewhere, I have pictures that I took of the prototype convertible in the early '70s. Not too long ago (few years) the prototype was sold at one of the major, big bucks, auctions for a lot in unrestored condition. The buyer, and current owner, has since restored it. I wouldn't venture a guess at what it is now worth.

Gary L.
1954 Commander Starliner (restomod)
1959 DeLuxe pickup (restomod)

04-16-2006, 01:43 PM
I agree with the why Not?, rather than the Why? people on this one. By this time, Studebaker was a relatively low-volume manufacturer catering to loyal buyers and enthusiasts. With the Avanti, they were about what today is referred to as a "Coachbuilder",of a low-volume, custom car based upon a production-line chassis. So, it wouldn't have been any big deal at all for GT Hawks to have been built as convertibles, in my little ol' opinion. I figure that they would've been a smart addition to the model lineup, sold at least as well as "R" series cars, and be eminently collectible today.

04-17-2006, 09:02 AM
The omission of the convertible from the product line in '53 was based on the projected low sales volume for that model. Management likely were basing that decision on the sales of the current models that were by then on the market 5-6 years and at the end of their product life cycle.
What management didn't understand was the tremendous appeal that a '53 convertible would have had relative to the previous model '51 & '52 convertibles. Not to denigrate those cars but the '53 design is such a blockbuster, they are not aesthetically comparable.
It amounts to a huge lost opportunity.
I have also wondered why none of the parts reproducers have designed and produced a conversion kit for the K bodies hardtops for those who would like to convert their cars. This idea mostly applies to the '62-'64 Hawks, given their high survival rate and overall popularity. While they wouldn't be authentic restorations, they surely would be appealing cars as is the one offered on Ebay!