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  • Studebaker historical reference?

    Hi folks!

    Okay, for the newer members around here, like myself, how about some general Studebaker info?

    In the big picture of American automotive history where did Stude fit in? That is what was the 'niche' for Studebaker? Many models seem to have been performance oriented but not really radical there. I'd think more 'sporty' than ultra-performance? Luxury sport, but in competition with what other vehicles? Were Hawks aimed at T-Birds and Vettes?

    Obviously some family oriented vehicles, some more cruiser types, some econo-cars, some more luxury types, some fine trucks but tell me more?

    Seems the 259 was a good match for 265 GM and 260 Ford. 289 is an obvious match for 283 and Ford 289. How come Stude never jumped into the big boys? More economy/mileage based? 289 blower motors were the wild card but how was long term reliability? Too expensive to maintain? Comparable performance to the rest of Detroit's offering of the day?

    As I recall Stude trucks were famous for reliable. Tell me more?

    Maybe I'm also asking: What went wrong? In all my years I think I only knew ONE Stude owner! And I have always been a car nut. Seems strange somehow...help me understand?

  • #2
    Post election synopsis?

    Stude did great...
    High point around 1952 (Centennial year)
    Could not (or chose not to) do annual body changes that GM and FOMOCO were doing.
    Union labor tied up the purse strings.
    Board of Directors chose a new path in the early sixties.
    (and that path did NOT include manufacturing cars and trucks)
    Remnants survive today (which might validate those early 1960's decisions)
    So.. Don't say they failed....
    They chose a different path.
    Today's biz antics may well prove them right.....
    Jeff[8D]


    http://community.webshots.com/user/deepnhock
    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

    Jeff


    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



    Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks, Jeff, but I didn't say Studebaker failed and don't see it that way.

      It does seem to me that if an automobile manufacturer suddenly decides not to manufacture automobiles it indicates something went wrong somewhere, fundamentally or because of compelling market pressures.

      Within my questions I was wondering if it's known what led up to this change in perspective or whatever?

      Comment


      • #4
        It'a funny thing Jimmie, but if you go back to newspapers, ads, books and pre-war history you find a TOTALLY different picture!

        In the teen years, 1920's 1930's and 1940's Studebaker was respected just as Dodge Bros. Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Packard, Lincoln and other fine cars of the day were, they were not the underdog we knew so well after 1950! In those days, people chose Quality over style every time! But then to me, they all LOOKED very similar anyway!

        They seemed to be in a gradual downfall after 1950 and it was not because of Quality that is for sure! You maybe could call it lack of "SEX APPEAL", I really do not know why they became your Grandma's grocery getter economy car, just because they did build the Champion small 6! Or "different" because it was not a "Big Three" car. There were big Commanders and Land Cruisers also, but not as well received or remembered.
        Ironically, one of the biggest "hits" they took was bringing out the most beautiful cars ever built, the 1953 Starlight Coupes and Starliner Hardtops with the long, low, European Design that made all others look obsolete! But it was a sales nightmare, a real disaster! [V] I think it took until the 1970's before people realized what they missed! Is that: "ahead of it's time"? Could be! [^]

        There are some things in this world Jimmie that we will never know the "WHY" for! And in this case it is many things, and complicated!

        StudeRich
        Studebakers Northwest
        Ferndale, WA
        StudeRich
        Second Generation Stude Driver,
        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

        Comment


        • #5
          Having grown up in the car business, I can tell you that in the later years Studebaker had a reputation for poor quality, being stodgy, and for old people and cheapskates. Nobody wanted anything to do with them, and you couldn't give one to my father for the car lot. Dad died in 1984, and I sometimes wonder what he'd say if he saw my love for them today, especially the least of the Studes- the Larks[:I] The oddball-ness that drew me to them did NOT play well in their time[xx(]

          It seems they made one bad decision after another, especially towards the end. It was a great move to build the Lark, aimed at a market where there was almost no competition- compacts. But they had to know the Big 3's entries into the segment would quickly overrun their offerings, which they did; leaving them with nothing left to compete with in any segment. By the mid 50s it was really over; the Lark bought them a few more years. Would the Avanti, given the chance at full support, have turned the company's fortunes? Doubtful. By the time the Lark petered out, the Corporation had had enough, and opted to ditch auto production rather than let it drag the entire company down. It proved to be absolutely correct from a business standpoint; just sad for car people[V]

          Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
          Parish, central NY 13131

          "Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

          "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"



          Comment


          • #6
            Ineffecient manufacturing took its toll on profit (or lack of). Just for an example, follow the path a body took being built. 1st floor to 3rd floor to 2nd floor to 4th floor to 5th floor then 1/2 mile away to the final assembly building. To me, it sounds a bit like knee-jerk manufacturing & not the way things are done today. All the "what ifs", plant 8 built station wagons briefly I have read. Could they have changed that to scale down things & built everything there? New Brunswick, N.J. was built to be a new assembly plant, if it & Los Angeles could have assembled while South Bend was either torn down & rebuilt as a smaller more effecient plant if the banks would have loaned the money? Who knows? All we have is what history has told us as we appreciate what we have & long for what could have been.

            60 Lark convertible
            61 Champ
            62 Daytona convertible
            63 G.T. R-2,4 speed
            63 Avanti (2)
            66 Daytona Sport Sedan
            59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
            60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
            61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
            62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
            62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
            62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
            63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
            63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
            64 Zip Van
            66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
            66 Cruiser V-8 auto

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks fellas, that builds a good picture of the conditions.

              Now I've always liked Stude's and especially Starlight and certain Hawks. I knew back then that it was cutting edge design. Strangley Starlight and Hawk were 'world cars' before the concept was even realized. Most Americans had no idea of Facel, Pininfarina, Touring, Allegmano etc. or of tight road hugging designs and effective aerodynamics.

              Superchargers scared people because the technology was too advanced for their understanding.

              Seems to me if they could have produced a car of Commander proportion, with some President luxuries, in a large package with Starlight aerodynamics and a reliable supercharged V8, or else larger displacement to fit the time it could have been one of the automotive winners of all time. Fatso Luxo was the order of the day for many, or else imitations of same. That target might have been a good possibility.

              I suspect those manufacturing methods are the real underlying problem, with inefficient methods trying to compete with advanced methods from all the others. Stude had the cars in many respects but had a hard time getting them out there and sold at a profit. I suspect they may have lacked the needed dealer network also.

              Funny to have one fall into my life so many years later. I'll drive it and enjoy it for what it is.

              Comment


              • #8
                Although not from a vantage point of having a family in the car business, as a kid I was always interested in cars and I can tell you that in our family, Studebakers by the '60's were considered stodgy, as BAMS said. They always caught my attention, even then, but in NW PA they seemed to rust worse than other cars, and could be bought for very, very little after '66 as used cars.

                We had a fairly successful Studebaker dealer in our town so there were many to be seen. My memory is that most '60's Studes I remember were driven by old folks...and when I did retail sale research in the SNM archives on new Studes sold in my hometown new from Sept. '63 to the end, this was proven to be true as I remembered many of the names of folks I saw....most were probably 50's or 60's at time of purchase. Also, the names "Stupidbaker" and "Steady-breaker" were heard by me about the cars, more than once.

                That said, even when I was a kid in the '60's, I'd have taken any Studebaker over a Rambler (same as today)!

                Bill Pressler
                Kent, OH
                '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1
                Bill Pressler
                Kent, OH
                (formerly Greenville, PA)
                Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
                Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
                1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
                1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
                All are in Australia now

                Comment


                • #9
                  What should have been, might have been, could have
                  been, is a lot of words. I am 64 years old. Had a 53
                  coupe when I was 15. Loved it then. Have one now. Love
                  it now. Hadum all through the years. Drove a 47 M-5
                  for 12 years, everyday vehicle. All this is what IS,
                  not what could, might, or should, IT'S What IS!!!!!

                  Tex E. Grier

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "...in the later years Studebaker had a reputation for poor quality, being stodgy, and for old people and cheapskates." QUOTE Bams50

                    Funny; I've never heard that before. Poor quality?? Using stainless steel instead of chrome, king pins instead of ball joints, solid lifters, etc. Poor quality?? That's new to me.

                    As far as I'm concerned they were more reliable mechanically than anything else. You cannot kill a Stude V8.

                    Advertising is what did them in. GM and others spent 100 times as much on ads and the public is like sheep. The right ads will sell junk. Poor dealerships also contributed.

                    Why did they get associated with old people? Don't know. Why did Oldsmobile attract the same stigma? Oldsmobiles were good cars. Even though they looke twice as good as a Chevy, they don't sell?

                    Who knows what the fickle public wants?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Art, don't miss my point- I didn't say those things were necessarily true about Studes, just that that was their reputation... at least that was the case in my area. I've said before, my father didn't have a beef with the brand specifically; he just wouldn't touch them because no one would buy them. As we know, image was everything; and like it or not, their image to the bulk of the public was pretty weak; at least in the late 60s/early 70s in central NY.

                      Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
                      Parish, central NY 13131

                      "Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

                      "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've read several articles about the demise of Studebaker and it seems like there are as many different opinions as authors. I agree with Flashback - "it is what it is". When I see a Studebaker going down the road; it reminds me of a time period that will never be again. A true American independent auto manufacturer. Ahh, the good old days!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I really think the Studebaker's main 'problem' was simply that they were consistently far ahead of their times! True from the 40's clear into the 60's & 70's and most folks just couldn't look that far ahead without getting dizzy or soiling their undies. Most other cars were more popular for people with little imagination or daring.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What JimmieD said AND they were built to last, so Studebaker lost repeat sales potential. Seriously, how many of you PERSONALLY know as a fact people who, from the 20' to the 60's, bought new Stude's less than 10 years apart? The only reason my dad did was cuz he knew they were going under and wanted one of the last. So he bought a '64 when he didn't need one, still had a '50 and a '60.

                            '50 Champion, 1 family owner

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              quote:Originally posted by BobGlasscock

                              What JimmieD said AND they were built to last, so Studebaker lost repeat sales potential. Seriously, how many of you PERSONALLY know as a fact people who, from the 20' to the 60's, bought new Stude's less than 10 years apart? The only reason my dad did was cuz he knew they were going under and wanted one of the last. So he bought a '64 when he didn't need one, still had a '50 and a '60.

                              I do. Three that come to mind are; 1) A neighbor that bought new Studebakers in the '50s and '60s and there wasn't ten years between new cars. 2) The father of a lady that my wife worked for bought a new Studebaker every year. He bought a new Hawk every year from 1956 to 1964 (including two new 1964s). I bought his last new 1964 Hawk. 3) A friend bought a new 1956 Hawk and a new 1963 Avanti.

                              Gary L.
                              Wappinger, NY

                              SDC member since 1968
                              Studebaker enthusiast much longer
                              Gary L.
                              Wappinger, NY

                              SDC member since 1968
                              Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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