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Did Studes have a planned life expectancy?

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  • Did Studes have a planned life expectancy?

    Just like it sounds. I keep reading that our beloved cars were just never meant to last this long. I also read that the average age of cars on the road right now is higher than ever. My DD is 10, my wife’s vehicle is 12 and they both have 200k miles on them- pretty much unheard-of for 1950’s vehicles, right? I mean, my second car (84 Ford Escort) got junked before it was 10, because it was already on engine #2 and was gonna need another one, plus it was so rusty the strut mounts were ready to break off and it filled up with water whenever it rained.
    When they designed our cars, was there an actual “shelf life” baked into them, or was that just not something they worried about back then? I’m sure companies wanted everyone to get a new one every year, not that everyone did. My parents would get a “good car” and keep it 10+ years, and my dad had a string of $500 beaters he drove to work in.
    Proud new owner of a 56 Power Hawk!

  • #2
    12 months, 12,000 miles...
    After that.. You were on your own..
    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


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

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


    • #3
      By most accounts I've heard/read, most estimate Studebaker for 100,000 mile service before rebuild.
      IIRC, most estimate the service life of their contemporary Big Three vehicles to 70-80,000.

      Those figures match my family's experience with cars. Our '77 Malibu needed rebuild around 73,000 and our Hawk, at 102,000 still purrs along and hasn't used any oil since replacing the valve stem seals.
      62 GT


      • #4
        I think "shelf life" has improved as materials and technology in producing vehicles has improved. My Grandparents bought a 1937 Chevrolet sedan in 1940 from the local Chevy dealer - it was his wife's car. She got a new Chevy because she was going to drive from Central Texas to California to visit family, and they wanted to make sure she was going out there and back with no issues - the '37 had just over 35K miles on it.

        On another vein, look how much longer interior materials last today. My father was marveling once at how a 10 year old vehicle that had spent it life in the Texas sun had zero issues with the seat material - he said my grandparents '50 Champion already had rips in the seats when it was three or four years old.

        I sold a 1995 Dodge Neon in 2004 to a friend. It had 150K miles on it and still had the original clutch - new owner pulled the tranny to replace it and he said it could have easily gotten another 50K out of the original.

        I think for the average car buyer in the mid-50s, they were not worried about shelf life because they were probably going to be buying something new within five years anyway.


        • #5
          Originally posted by DEEPNHOCK View Post
          12 months, 12,000 miles...
          After that.. You were on your own.
          In the middle of the 1963 model year, it was raised to 24 months, 24,000 miles.



          • #6
            My 57 Clipper 90 days or 4000 miles which ever came first none on tires 90 days on battery


            • #7
              Studebakers Big Six ran 475,000 miles. I saw it at the Museum.
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              • #8
                5 years. 10 tops. Most cars from that era were pretty well used up by 80,000 miles. Rust was a killer too. My aunt shared a photo of her at her 8th grade graduation standing in front of my fathers 1960 Lark convertible. You could see the rear of the fenders starting to bubble at the top. The picture was taken in the spring of 1963! We live in Illinois. Lots of salt on the roads.
                1962 Champ

                51 Commander 4 door


                • #9
                  My Dad bought my 1962 Daytona, 289, 4-speed in 67 and it already had 80,000 miles. It did not have a passive flow oil filter canister on the motor. I added one from the wrecked 55 Speedster. We rebuilt the motor at 100,000 miles and added NOS fenders in 1972. I sold it in 1974 with 140,000 miles. My Dad always wanted to know "what happened to the rear tires?" and I used Walker Glasspack mufflers which needed replaced about every year. I can't recall ever repacking the outer axle bearings. We usually redid the brake cylinders every other year. If I had not driven the 1970 Javelin SST 360, 4-speed, PDB, I probably had kept it until I bought my 1977 Trans AM. I did pass it along to another SDC member. I lived in an Apt and no garage to keep 2nd nice car.
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                  • #10
                    This is not Sweden where a Volvo was expected to last decades. Post-war America had a very different culture, and still does. The throw away post-war culture just didn't accept things that got old, and still doesn't. Car manufacturers only had to match the original owner's expectations. American's demanded regular change, and that translated into new. There wasn't much secondary market for used cars, anyway, because there wasn't that much demand. Most cars were gone after ten years and almost all by twenty years. We old car people have always been outliers in this culture.


                    • #11
                      I have only owned two new cars in my lifetime, 78 and 82 AMC Concords. So guess I have always been part of the small secondary market consumer bunch. My first car was a 56J, in 1968. It may as well been have brand new to me, because I could not have loved it more!

                      As for the OP, as already mentioned above, the warrantee was increased from time to time. But the max was toward the end, at 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever came first.


                      • #12
                        Somewhere on my shelf I have a book I’ve not yet read... now I’m going to have to. It’s titled “You can drive your Studebaker forever”. I believe it’s full of tips and tricks to keep your beloved Stude on the road for decades. So certainly some people had the mindset on keeping them a long time!
                        1950 Commander Land Cruiser
                        1951 Champion Business Coupe
                        1951 Commander Starlight
                        1952 Champion 2Dr. Sedan
                        1953 Champion Starlight
                        1953 Commander Starliner
                        1953 2R5
                        1956 Golden Hawk Jet Streak
                        1957 Silver Hawk
                        1957 3E5 Pick-Up
                        1959 Silver Hawk
                        1961 Hawk
                        1962 Cruiser 4 speed
                        1963 Daytona Convertible
                        1964 Daytona R2 4 speed
                        1965 Cruiser
                        1970 Avanti


                        • #13
                          Hallabutt in post #10 has a point. & that caused Sweden to order knockdown MoPars to Sweden. Thou Studebakers went to Belgium. I don't know if Ford or GM also did it. I guess that since GM sold mostly on sashion maby they didn't care as much..? (& the Wauxhall & Opel rusted seriously fast!)
                          The swedish Chrysler (ANA) plant wrote in the ads that the cars was not to compare with the US built cars.
                          I don't know about paint under the dashboard, but Belgian built Josephine has it.
                          Last edited by Noxnabaker; 05-13-2020, 12:08 PM.

                          Champion V8
                          4d sedan


                          • #14
                            No doubt the “Studebaker Stripe” could have been engineered away IF they had wanted it gone.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 64V19816 View Post
                              No doubt the “Studebaker Stripe” could have been engineered away IF they had wanted it gone.
                              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.
                              Skip Lackie