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Did Studes have a planned life expectancy?

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  • #16
    The American auto industry through the 1950's and 1960's planned a six to eight year replacement cycle from new car purchase to the last user junking the car. It was how they drove the production volumes necessary to sustained the industry and generate the intended profits. Style change, rust damage, depreciation and model proliferation plus mechanical wear all contributed to that cycle being the accepted standard. As cars became more costly in the 1970's and with the increased availability of imports that emphasized greater longevity, the standards evolved to expect longer usage cycles.

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    • #17
      Regarding "Planned Life Expectancy"...in my lack of behind the scenes or "insider" knowledge about Studebaker Corporate Management...I don't think they planned all that well on anything except to allow what I have concluded is too much meddling by mercenary investors who were not nearly as devoted and dedicated to the Studebaker Automotive legacy, brand, or future, as much as they were to playing financial speculative games while squandering and mismanaging a century of such a historical legacy of dependable transportation.

      In my opinion (for what that's worth), the everyday ground pounder Studebaker employee built as good a car, compared to other makes, as was normal for the era. But somewhere between that worker, and his connection to Studebaker's future, was a Union that targeted smaller vulnerable Studebaker to use to bludgeon the big three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) into capitulation. I don't think that alone was the cause of Studebaker's troubles, but when combined with a succession of execs and investors with questionable passion and vision for the pursuit of automobile production, public perception/acceptance and lack of sales/profit...that resulted in the ceasing of production.

      Studebaker was not alone. By the time Studebaker execs made their fateful decision to cease, many former makes had already paved the way. In fact, some had long faded from public consciousness. For domestic U.S. production, I believe the list of surviving brands is much shorter than those still going.

      No...I don't think Studebaker Planned a "Life expectancy," (for their cars) ...If they were that good at planning, we might have new ones available today!



      John Clary
      Greer, SC

      SDC member since 1975

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      • #18
        Originally posted by 56H-Y6 View Post
        The American auto industry through the 1950's and 1960's planned a six to eight year replacement cycle from new car purchase to the last user junking the car. It was how they drove the production volumes necessary to sustained the industry and generate the intended profits. Style change, rust damage, depreciation and model proliferation plus mechanical wear all contributed to that cycle being the accepted standard. As cars became more costly in the 1970's and with the increased availability of imports that emphasized greater longevity, the standards evolved to expect longer usage cycles.
        That may have varied within US regions. Probably most cars were rust buckets within 5 years up north. But growing up in the 60s in Kentucky, there were still MANY very nice 1940s-50s cars still on the road. Maybe just more poor people in the south. My grandfather used to buy a new Rambler ever few years, and my uncle bought new Mopars every few years, but none of their old trade ins were worn out.

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        • #19
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          Originally posted by Skip Lackie View Post

          A short story: in 1974, I attended the first meet sponsored by the new Milestone Car Society, an ambitious (but ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to create a Classic Car Club-type organization for post-War cars. The awards dinner included a Q and A session with honored guests Bob Andrews, Robert Bourke, and Brooks Stevens, all of whom worked on Stude styling. Bourke was asked why Studebaker stuck with the dreadful design of their front fenders, once it became obvious that they rusted out after only a few years. He said that he had raised that issue with company management, and the answer was that improving the design of the fender joint would add 66 cents to the cost of each fender, and they were unwilling to make that investment. It was already costing Studebaker more than their competitors to build each car, and they were focused on keeping costs as low as possible. Apparently, they didn't see what those rusty fenders were doing to their reputation.
          But the windshields held up well, even if everything around them disappeared.

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          • #20
            1. 1963 Avanti (70Kmiles)
            2. 2002 Toyota Highlander, the wife's car (118K miles)
            3. 2007 Toyota Tacoma extended cab, my daily driver (84K miles)

            The Mrs says, "Maybe we should think about replacing the Highlander." I keep it looking as new as the day we bought it having put over 250K miles on my 1995 T-100 that I gave away to my sister which is still running in MN. I'm guessing that the Highlander has another ten years left after which I don't think I'll concern myself too much about a replacement.
            "Every man I meet on the street is superior to me in some respect, and from that I can learn."
            R.W. Emerson

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            • #21
              It wasn't just Studebakers that had rust problems. My father had a 1952 Dodge . The left rocker panel fell off due to rust while I was driving it in late 1959.
              One of our neighbours bought a new 1957 Pontiac and maintained it meticulously. Pieces fell out of both rear fenders when it was 5 years old. Fords had such a poor reputation for rust in the 1970s that one of my friends said jokingly, "On a quiet evening you could hear them rust."
              Bill Jarvis

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              • #22
                I guess that most everyone would admit that nothing will survive forever. With cars the numbers speak for themselves. We know that only about 1% of are old cars have survived past their twentieth birthday, but we also know that some models belie these numbers. I'll use a 1965 Buick Riviera for a non-Studebaker comparison. We know that maybe between 15-20% have survived, while the survival rate of a 1965 Lesabre is minuscule. Was it because the Riviera was built better, or better equipped-no it was because Riviera owners held their cars in higher esteem. So survival is more complex equation including regional differences, the tole the elements take on our cars, owner expectations of how long a car should last, and the quality that manufactures built into their offerings. The most important factor is whether a model is loved by it's owners' or just thought of as just an appliance, to just be discarded when it breaks down.

                We know that our cars deteriorate, but its the steps we are willing to take to mitigate the affects of time, and the elements, that makes the difference in survival. The efforts that we in the PNW have to take to insure a car's survival is going to be vastly different then say someone in South Bend, but ultimately it's a willingness to do what's necessary. Any car should last a lifetime it's how we treat them that make the difference.

                Bill

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                • #23
                  Cars, post WWII were a hot ticket. Styling changed virtually every year, at least a little. This created new car envy and actually increased sales. Perhaps this may have trickled down to the final product, needing only to last 5 years before it was seen as obsolete. Today's cars have a slightly different market. They are seen as transportation and the more reliable, the better. Todays production and technology allows for more precise tolerances in both the mechanicals and bodies, making cars much more reliable and easily good for 200K with a little preventative maintenance. Plus a model's design can remain unchanged now for for several years. Most old cars that survive in Nebraska were owned by farmers. They don't throw anything out. If it wasn't for my brother being a typical farmer, his '50 Studebaker convertible would have been sold for $10 back in the early '60's. He parked on his farm instead. Too bad it didn't get put in a shed!

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Skip Lackie View Post

                    A short story: in 1974, I attended the first meet sponsored by the new Milestone Car Society, an ambitious (but ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to create a Classic Car Club-type organization for post-War cars. The awards dinner included a Q and A session with honored guests Bob Andrews, Robert Bourke, and Brooks Stevens, all of whom worked on Stude styling. Bourke was asked why Studebaker stuck with the dreadful design of their front fenders, once it became obvious that they rusted out after only a few years. He said that he had raised that issue with company management, and the answer was that improving the design of the fender joint would add 66 cents to the cost of each fender, and they were unwilling to make that investment. It was already costing Studebaker more than their competitors to build each car, and they were focused on keeping costs as low as possible. Apparently, they didn't see what those rusty fenders were doing to their reputation.
                    I'm sure there were dozens of times Studebaker was penny wise and dollar foolish. It could be a whole new (and frustrating) thread.
                    "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by 50Ragtop View Post
                      Most old cars that survive in Nebraska were owned by farmers. They don't throw anything out. If it wasn't for my brother being a typical farmer, his '50 Studebaker convertible would have been sold for $10 back in the early '60's.
                      My farming grandparents retired their '50 Champion 4 door when they bought a relatives 1962 Lark in late '64. Instead of getting rid of the Champion, my grandfather rolled it behind the barn. In a short time, his pickup was down for some time and he pressed the Champion back into service. Dad said the back seat came out and bales of hay could be be taken to feed the cows in the back seat and trunk area. The truck was finally back in service and the Champion was re-retired. Sometime later, it was sold for $25 to migrant farm workers looking for a vehicle to get them to their next place to work.

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                      • #26
                        The newest trend for car manufacturers is to make parts for 10 year old cars, in mostly perfect condition, NLA...PERIOD. That, together with the MONSTEROUS prices they charge in the service departments, make it way cheaper to buy a new car...which the average Joe has NO idea how to service. I called the Dodge Dealer to see what the little plastic center cap in my alloy wheels would cost.....wait for it....EIGHTY TWO dollars EACH! It is actually cheaper to maintain our 1950's - 60's vehicles, then to try to do the same with new vehicles. My Sky Hawk is being built as a daily driver...

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                        • #27
                          The question was: "what WAS the Planned Life Expectancy". I submit that as I remember it, the Industry Standard for U.S. Cars was SEVEN Years. Thereafter was considered to not be "Cost effective" to Maintain.

                          That is because the average person was not trying to save a Classic, they were just trying to be driving a "Cost effective" Automobile. And many would trade it off sooner, while it still had SOME value left.
                          So doing Thousands of dollars of repair or "Restoration" was not even a Dream.

                          Could a well maintained Stude. owned by a CASO last much longer? Of course it could.
                          StudeRich
                          Second Generation Stude Driver,
                          Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                            The question was: "what WAS the Planned Life Expectancy". I submit that as I remember it, the Industry Standard for U.S. Cars was SEVEN Years.
                            Now that I think about it, as I recall reading somewhere, the FTC required mechanical and safety-related parts being available for a minimum of ten years from the date of manufacture for automobiles.

                            Craig

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                            • #29
                              This problem extends to other items as well. Extremely high end digital cameras suffer from electronic failures together with NO basic parts support. Your $6000 Leica is Full of proprietory components that degrade. You want to talk service costs? Leica factory service puts car dealers to shame! Plus, waits in the months are common.

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