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Own a tiny snippet of Studebaker history

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  • Own a tiny snippet of Studebaker history

    While attending the 2002 meet in South Bend, a few of us elected to take an "unauthorized tour" of the old South Bend stamping plant. Yes, we trespassed onto the property and walked thru one of the cavernous bays where various mighty presses once hammered out various bits and pieces of the Studes we know and love.
    I had no preconcieved notions that we'd see ANYthing that related to the days of Studebaker since the plant had continued to turn out parts for Big 3 customers, long after the last Stude fender was formed there.
    But at the far, far end of the one bay we explored was what must've been a foreman's shanty. It had been vandalized inside and out. But curiously, there were several racks and shelves that had books pertaining to this and that about work procedures and safety.[:I]
    Then there was this little two-drawer file thingy that was full of some manila-colored cards. Each one about 4 inches by 6 and bearing the header: "Studebaker Engineering Release" on one end. HEY! Honest-to-goodness Studebaker fossils! Cool![:0]
    Well, I grabbed a handfull (I figured Studebaker wasn't gonna miss 'em now - BTW, they all have dates from 1956 on them! And they all make reference to the looming 1957 models.-) and so did one or two others in our clandestine exploration party. And I subsequently shared some of the ones I grabbed with other folks that I knew.
    I guess there's nothin' really wowsie about these except that they had probably set in that file drawer ever since 1956 - unmolested until we came along.[V]
    Each card carries a part number and brief description of the part. Then there's some reference as to what models of car that part was called out for.
    AND!!! I just discovered something I'd not realized about some of the cards I have. SO - here goes - (drum roll please!) There's callouts as to how many of the part on a given sheet are used on a particular model of car. For instance, I've got one such card in front of me that shows 4each of a # 306331X27 "fastener" is used to hold the pkg shelf cardboard cover in place. 4 for 57G models (Champions) 4 for 57B models (Commanders) 4 for 57H models (Presidents) and - here goes - FOUR for a 57J model! Do you realize what that means? [?] It means that there at least was SOME expectation that a Packard-powered 57J car (and the callout DOES indicate C or K-body cars) were in the offing!
    I've never read this anywhere before. This is a neat little factoid discovery.[:0] And you were in on it with me! And by the way - if anyone WAS aware of such, I'd like to hear about it.[:I] And I'll take an extra slice of humble pie for getting worked up over something that's old news.[V]
    Still - if you'd like to have a little bit of Stude history - straight from a Stude plant - you can send me a first class postage stamp and I'll mail you one. I CAN NOT promise you one with the 57J reference on it. Most of them don't reflect such. But there ARE a number of cards that reference parts for the 3E series of trucks, so if you preferred one for a truck, I could certainly pick such out. I doubt there'll be any real "run" on these (Maybe NO run at all!). But IF you would like to have one, I'll be glad to share until they run out. All I really want is a couple for keepsakes.[^]

    Miscreant at large.

  • #2
    I knew you loved crap like that, that's why I sold you that" mystery" Hawk hood ornament.

    Studebaker On The Net
    64 R2 4 speed Challenger (Plain Wrapper)
    63 R2 4 speed GT Hawk
    55 Speedster
    50 2R 10 truck
    JDP Maryland


    • #3
      Yup! And it holds a revered place on the top of the book cabinet! Right next to a model Hawk.

      Miscreant at large.
      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


      • #4
        Mr.Biggs- I think you should send them [u]ALL</u> to the Studebaker museum and turn yourself into the authorities for behavior unbecoming of a Miscreant!



        • #5
          You DO know there was recently a fire in that old facility, right? [}] Think of me as their savior! (Why is there no smilies with a halo overhead???)

          Miscreant at large.
          No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


          • #6
            Behaviour unbecoming of a miscreant? Exploring an old factory (abandoned by the way) is pretty miscreantish to me. Wish I could have been there.[:I]

            Lotsa Larks!
            A.K.A: out2lunch
            Home of the famous Mr. Ed!
            K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Studebaker!
            Ron Smith
            Where the heck is Fawn Lodge, CA?


            • #7
              Wow so cool,
              I bet it was so frustrating working at Studebaker in 1956 so many good ideas that rotted away in a management turmoil. Thank god that someone put good old Churchill in charge after the Nance break up. If it wasn't for his willingness to take some major risk and develop the Lark the GT-Hawk, Avanti and all those Jet Thrust engines would have never seen the light of day. I think that Church was to Studebaker what Lee was to Chrysler in the early 80's. A good CEO knows how to sell risk to a pansy bunch of board members. Had Stude been given a government backed loan they would have saved the taxpayers more money than what it cost to clean up the aftermath that Studebaker left behind. I remember when I was a kid and we went to a Studebaker meet in South Bend in the early 80's and I just couldn't understand why they weren't building Studebakers anymore, all the buildings were there.

              Restore it, don't replace it.Keep the Studebaker reproduction industry going


              • #8
                sure, I'd like one....

                I'll email you off-fourum to get an adress where I can send a self adressed stamped enevelope.



                • #9
                  I'll second what 1949commander said about Churchill. I was very favorably impressed by Church and his strong feelings for Studebaker on the few times that I spoke with the gentleman (in the early '70s). Anyone that likes Larks, really has Church to thank.
                  Gary L.
                  Wappinger, NY

                  SDC member since 1968
                  Studebaker enthusiast much longer


                  • #10
                    Wish I had been along as the impulse to break into Stude's old factory buildings has more than once crossed my mind, but I never did act on those impulses while in South Bend! Sounds like your adventure was a blast! In 1999 I did get to peek into the past by touring the top floor of the Studebaker Clubhouse at the Proving Ground. As many of you know, this building was extensively remodeled on the inside in 1961 when Studebaker's new President, Sherwood Egbert, made the Clubhouse his residence. He lived here with his wife (and I believe) two daughters. By 1999 the top floor was looking a little shabby, but had a distinctive 1960s feel. The bathroom was fabulous by 1961 standards, as was the kitchen, which was located on the bottom floor. In 1999 the County owned this property and was trying to raise funds to revamp the clubhouse. I have no idea if they succeeded or if this was done. A lady who worked for the county was gracious enough to lead us on this tour. It was great and as with so many things Studebaker in and around South Bend, brought a tear to the eye remembering when and what could have been with Studebaker.



                    • #11
                      A few weeks ago I made a post asking what, if anything, the ailing Sherwood Egbert did in the industry after he left Studebaker and received no real answers. Does anyone know what happened to Church? He was on the Studebaker Board after leaving the Presidency but otherwise, does anyone know if he retired and does anyone know when he died? Church was a chain-smoker so I am certain he is no longer with us.



                      • #12
                        Mr. Biggs, you're OK in my book. I never would have thought to enter one of those old factory buildings when I was in South Bend in '97. Actually, my wife probably wouldn't let me.
                        What you discovered is a treasure. I won't hurt anyone that you found those items, in fact, you actually saved part of Stude history.
                        And that's great. Just being Studebaker fanatics puts us in a special class of miscreants. We aren't understood by those good, misinformed folks who collect "ordinary" cars of the past. We, of Studebakerdom, stand alone.
                        Nice work.
                        '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
                        Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


                        • #13
                          Thanks Rog,

                          You know, I don't THINK of myself as an "expert" when it comes to Studebakers. Sure, I have alot of little details and such whirling around in my cranial "hard drive", but there's so little I know with respect to all that COULD BE known about Studebakers that I shirk the "expert" title whenever possible.
                          Still - I LOVE preserving or even discovering little details about the marque when I can. I hope Dick Quinn won't mind me mentioning his name here but I was so envious when he once told me about interacting with a guy who was basically a janitor of sorts in the Studebaker admin bldg (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, Dick) who brought various papers to Dick's attention after the demise of South Bend.
                          Lots of neat facts and such went to the dumpsters after Stude closed down. And that's understandable if you put your mind back in that time. The auto business part of the company had failed. The less remembered, the better - in the eyes of many.[V] But this one clean-up guy had an eye for stuff which he thought Dick might have interest in and as a consequence, alot of neat documents were saved for history.
                          I've often wondered about who cleaned up the production lines after assembly of cars stopped. Did they bother to deposit the parts back to stores or were they just tossed for scrap? Moot points at this stage in time, but interesting to think about nonetheless.
                          I understand a person who loves a GT Hawk or an Avanti or whatever your pleasure might be - and cares not much about the company's overall story . But to me, that history's as much a part of the cars as the cars themselves. That's why I get a kick outta saving the tiniest bit of evidence about the finer points of this long-dead auto maker. Once the last of the decrepit buildings is razed, once the last of us who were witness to the compant's demise have passed, it'll only be the recorded bits and restored cars that give a sense of the mystique that makes Studebaker special. It's up to those who can to provide as much detail as possible so that future historians will come as close to "getting it right" as is practical.[^]

                          Miscreant at large.
                          No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


                          • #14
                            Mr. Biggs,
                            I love your attitude and your devotion to the whole Studebaker scene.
                            I fully agree with your approach. We're not just driving old cars, but we're driving a piece of our history. I feel that way every time I drive my Stude, or Model A Ford. And I tell people that when they come up to me to ask a question or comment about my car.
                            My history with Studebaker goes back to when I was a small boy. During WWII, my dad had a new '39 Commander. It road beautifully and was extremely quiet. When I was in college, during the late '50s, I drove a '51 Commander convertible. Boy, do I wish I had that car today.
                            I really feel that most of us are truly devoted to the Studebaker marque. I also feel that, if Studebaker were still building cars today, we'd be buying those cars as well.
                            Thanks for letting me vent.
                            '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
                            Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club