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Studebaker's growing pricing problem in the 1950s

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  • Studebaker's growing pricing problem in the 1950s

    For some odd reason, Buick's 1952 Super Riviera hardtop has always reminded me of what was becoming Studebaker's competitive pricing problem as the 1950s wore on and sales sank.

    Here is a current 1952 Buick Super Riviera 2-door hardtop for sale:

    https://classiccars.com/listings/vie...shington-98119

    When that Buick was new, it had a MSRP of $2,671 with automatic transmission.

    By contrast, the MSRP on a new 1952 Studebaker Commander State Starliner 2-door hardtop with automatic transmisison was $2,731;$60 morethan the nearly top-of-the-line Buick!

    Gulp. Sadly, many customers decided they'd rather have a Buick than a Studebaker, too; sales were 55,400 Buick Super hardtops to 14,548 Commander Starliners.

    This was an uphill battle, given Economies of Scale. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  • #2
    Yes, economy of scale was one problem, but also antiquated facilities and a management which gave too much in the WWII and post-WWI contract negotiations and then wouldn't engage and lead workers. Studebaker wasn't alone in these failings, but they were too small to survive the failings.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    • #3
      Really nice Buick. Studebaker even offered that near exact color combination on the Starliner.

      Comment


      • #4
        BUT! A '52 Buick would be an Old, antiquated OHV Straight Eight! VS a New Tech. OHV 232 V8, with 120 right NOW H.P. not 3 Minutes later!

        Not to mention a REAL 3 Speed Automatic Transmission, not a Slug!

        If the Marketing did not Pump those differences up, that would be another place they failed.
        StudeRich
        Second Generation Stude Driver,
        Proud '54 Starliner Owner



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        • #5
          Economies of scale in other ways, too. Buick offered a full line of hardtops, sedans, wagons and convertibles in three series (not all models available in all series). Many of the parts were interchangeable between series and even other makes (Olds, Cad), which allowed them to further amortize their costs over many vehicles.

          My parents had a 52 Buick Roadmaster convertible in exactly that color. My father had always wanted a convertible, but went to the Buick dealer to buy another Special 4-door like the 50 we already had. But the dealer had this leftover Roadmaster convertible that had been used as a demo and had only a few thousand miles on it. the 1953 models were out with the new V8 (except the Special), and all of a sudden, straight 8s were passe. When the price dropped below the cost of a new Special 4-door sedan, my mother relented and my father brought it home. I never got to drive it (too young), but I remember it as a gorgeous and comfortable car. It was my first exposure to power windows and power seat, too.
          Skip Lackie

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          • #6
            Looking back, what could Studebaker have done in 1952 to improve their finances? Focus more attention to their farm and commercial truck business? Offer their V8 in the trucks which would have offered more power than their Ford, GM and Dodge counterparts?
            Or perhaps offered a small sports car with the V8 being that there was a growing market for such a car?
            Any other ideas?
            sigpic
            In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Milaca View Post
              Looking back, what could Studebaker have done in 1952 to improve their finances? Focus more attention to their farm and commercial truck business? Offer their V8 in the trucks which would have offered more power than their Ford, GM and Dodge counterparts?
              Or perhaps offered a small sports car with the V8 being that there was a growing market for such a car?
              Any other ideas?
              Reduce their hourly employee's labor rate to that of the rest of the industry, or lower.
              Gary L.
              Wappinger, NY

              SDC member since 1968
              Studebaker enthusiast much longer

              Comment


              • #8
                I know Studebaker had come out of receivership by WW2, but what was their financial status after the war? Did they come out with some money in the bank? I'm guessing the answer is yes. If so, that would have been the time to invest in updating the aging facilities, instead of paying exorbitant wages and fat dividends to investors.
                Mike Davis
                Regional Manager, North Carolina
                1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

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                • #9
                  If Studebaker had reduced its prices to be competitive they would probably have lost money on each car, but they would have made it up on volume.

                  I know, I know, this is an old joke.
                  -Dwight
                  Last edited by Dwight FitzSimons; 08-16-2019, 11:44 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
                    If Studebaker had reduced its prices to be competitive they would probably have lost money on each car, but they would have made it up on volume.
                    That factor kept them from bringing a four door hardtop to market: https://forum.studebakerdriversclub....-Feb-s-already!

                    The hardtop would never even have come close to the sales volume of the humble four door sedan.

                    Craig

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Milaca View Post
                      Looking back, what could Studebaker have done in 1952 to improve their finances? Focus more attention to their farm and commercial truck business? Offer their V8 in the trucks which would have offered more power than their Ford, GM and Dodge counterparts?
                      Or perhaps offered a small sports car with the V8 being that there was a growing market for such a car?
                      Any other ideas?
                      Strengthening their Dealer organization would have helped a lot as well.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
                        If Studebaker had reduced its prices to be competitive they would probably have lost money on each car, but they would have made it up on volume. Dwight
                        I hope you're kidding, Dwight. If a company loses money on every car, they're still gonna be in the hole at the end of the year because no matter how great the volume, they lost money on every one!

                        That theory might work on halo cars like Avantis or Caribbeans or early Thunderbirds, but the bread-and-butter lines had better be making enough money to cover the cost of the halo cars and turn an additional profit in and of themselves. BP
                        We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                        Ayn Rand:
                        "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                        G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
                          I hope you're kidding, Dwight. If a company loses money on every car, they're still gonna be in the hole at the end of the year because no matter how great the volume, they lost money on every one!
                          Like GM in 2009? They made something like 4 million more cars in 2009 than they did in 1962, one of the most profitable years.

                          Craig
                          Last edited by 8E45E; 08-16-2019, 01:06 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 8E45E View Post
                            Like GM in 2009? The made something like 4 million more cars in 2009 than they did in 1962, one of the most profitable years. Craig
                            BINGO! BP
                            We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                            Ayn Rand:
                            "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                            G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 8E45E View Post
                              Like GM in 2009? The made something like 4 million more cars in 2009 than they did in 1962, one of the most profitable years.

                              Craig
                              If I remember correctly GM was selling more cars than anyone else in the world, but still losing money! Something wrong there. The main problem apparently was that they had too many makes; They were competing with themselves. Labor costs were too high, too.
                              -Dwight

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