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' 58 Starlight hardtop questions...

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  • ' 58 Starlight hardtop questions...

    While researching Matt's statement that there were no '58 Prez wagons in “Studebaker 1946-1966” by Richard Langworth, I read a small amount about the development of the '58 Starlight 'hardtop'.

    Made me wonder the reasoning behind spending the money on development of such a car when the Lark was waiting in the wings. And if they DID develop it, why not use that roof design for the Lark 'hardtop' instead of spending the money for development of the one they eventually used?

    Makes me think that instead of “Always give a little more than you promise” the Company motto might have been “grasping at straws”.


  • #2
    It's a good question. At least in the case of the 52 hardtop, a convertible model already existed to supply windows, doors, floor supports, etc. In 58 there was none of that in place.


    • #3
      There were lots of full-size clays of 1959 Commanders which were posted here some time ago which more or less confirms the 1958 body in full-size form was no doubt scheduled to continue for a few years on with no changes to the greenhouse. The J-body was conceived before Harold Churchill got the President's position and convinced the BoD a compact car was the way to go, and the Lark was produced in a timeframe of less than two years. Of course the 1959 model year sales proved him correct in which direction the company took, but because of that, we are left with possibly more unique 'one-year-only' parts than usual with this model. It was the only 2-door model available with power windows in the rear as well as the front, for example.



      • #4
        Kinda wished it had carried into the Lark too.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Although the '58 Hardtop roof would look nice on a Lark, I still love the hardtop roof on my '59 Lark.
          '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
          Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


          • #6

            It's all a matter of timing, specifically auto industry lead times. Development and tooling for the 1958 year would have taken place starting late '56 when body selection would have been decided. Studebaker management was acutely aware of the deficits in of popular styles in the sedan series from the outset. Hardtops and station wagons were immensely popular then, both which were belatedly added. With both two and four door station wagons at last available in '57, adding the hardtop for '58 was the next logical step. As has been noted, continuation of the full-size Studebakers past 1959 was still the plan, until the compact car program started in late '57-early '58, when the '58 Starlight hardtops were in showrooms. Changing the roof tooling to match that of the sedans may have been to make the rear glass interchangeable with the higher-volume sedan (someone will have to check the Body Parts Catalog on this one). With the upheaval taking place in 1958-'59, the '58 Starlight became a one-year-only model.