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Sherwood Egbert Story

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  • Sherwood Egbert Story

    Mr Egbert was one of the last Presidents of the Studebaker Automobile Company. He chose to live in the "Clubhouse" at the Proving Grounds. The Clubhouse was built to provide a cafeteria for the large employee staff during WW2 and overnight lodging for engineering and military personnel that were working there at the time. Following the war it was occupied by a caretaker and finally it became a storage for many Packard files. Mr. Egbert decided that it would be a proper palace for himself and great deal of money was spent to remodel it to suit his fancy. As an additional feature the main gate was modified so that as Mr Egbert speed down highway 2 he could remotely open the gate from his car. Mr. Egbert's father once told my father that Sherwood was not appreciated by very many people, in fact his father said that concrete blocks were placed in the pole vault landing pit for Sherwood to land on when he was a high school student. This story is not related to the cars themselves, but just a little peek into the mind of one of their "leaders".

  • #2
    Most high achievers have personality quirks or egos. The rebuilding of the Clubhouse doesn't surprise me.
    I've met generals, politicians, celebrities, rich guys, professors, doctors and successful business people. All have issues or foibles.
    Then again, I know regular working class guys and middle management with them too.

    People are people. Few saints live among us.

    My wife (a lovely Englishwoman) quotes an old English saying.
    "Everyone is queer except me and thou...and thou is a bit queer sometimes."
    Last edited by JBOYLE; 05-30-2012, 02:32 PM.
    63 Avanti R1 2788
    1914 Stutz Bearcat
    (George Barris replica)

    Washington State

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    • #3
      I've seen that quite often people with very high positives in their character makeup also have equally high negatives. We tend to remember one or the other depending on our points of view of the results of their efforts in life.

      Many highly accomplished scientists are brilliant in their labs but are almost childlike outside of that insulated academic or scientific environment. It's like they need to have their hands held to cross the street safely but in their labs are the masters of their domains.
      Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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      • #4
        As far as I know the Egbert's bedroom on the second floor is still intact with the same fixtures and shag carpeting that was there when they lived in the Studebaker Club House.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by StudeMichael View Post
          As far as I know the Egbert's bedroom on the second floor is still intact with the same fixtures and shag carpeting that was there when they lived in the Studebaker Club House.
          Yes, it hasn't changed much. I posted a few photos I took in 2007 here: http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...light=bathroom

          Craig

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          • #6
            It was probably a good thing for the President of a major auto manufacturing concern, who loved to drive the product, to live at the Proving Grounds. Too bad he couldn't have lived there longer.

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            • #7
              Mr. Egbert's father once told my father that Sherwood was not appreciated by very many people, in fact his father said that concrete blocks were placed in the pole vault landing pit for Sherwood to land on when he was a high school student. This story is not related to the cars themselves, but just a little peek into the mind of one of their "leaders".

              This story tells me nothing about Sherwood Egbert. What it does tell me concerns the intelligence quotient of the juvenile delinquents who were intending to injure a fellow student. I hope they were locked up.

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              • #8
                Good story pointer42. Keep them coming.

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                • #9
                  If you'd really like a good discussion about what Sherwood Egbert faced as President of Studebaker, and what it meant to the history of the company, the best explanation I've seen is on pages 41- 48 in the book "Studebaker - Less Than They Promised" by Michael Beatty, Patrick Furlong and Loren Pennington (1984). Try to buy it on eBay or at a swap meet.

                  These some short impressions of mine about Egbert and the results of his tenure:

                  1) Egbert left a great job at McColloch and took the position without full support of the Board. He got the job because the top choices refused the job. Egbert even refused it the first time it was proposed to him.

                  2) He took the job because he could do it with full control. His first moves were brilliant and even Board members that voted against him were wowed with what he could do for and with so little money.

                  3) The 1962 models would not have had the Mercedes Grille, the Hawk would likely have been dropped after 1961, and there certainly would have been no Avanti had there been no Egbert.

                  4) He brought Raymond Loewy back to Studebaker.

                  5) His use of the Clubhouse as a residence may have spared it from a more unfortunate fate. Any candidate for the position would have likely gotten a cash or some other form of compensation for moving to South Bend. Money invested in the Clubhouse remained a capital asset of the Company and Egbert did not take it with him. A home purchased elsewhere near South Bend for him may have remained in his possession after termination.

                  It is my opinion that he bit off more than he could chew, spent too much money on the Avanti (which may have paid off if there weren't so many production problems), and his leadership ego rubbed some the wrong way. When things started to go good after he came in, he was a hero. When the Avanti became bottlenecked, and inertia already in place before he came in went full speed, it all became a bigger snowball than anyone could have stopped. Any other choice for President would have began hacking costs and eliminating product. That was what happened in December 1963, and Hamilton was a "downsized" Studebaker. It lasted about three years too.

                  Studebaker would have likely disappeared in a more boring fashion without him. And dang it, for a while it looked like he was going to pull it off!!

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                  • #10
                    What Kevin said in Post #9, above. Spot-on, as usual.

                    We owe so much to Sherwood Egbert...and in the end, his life was certainly shortened by his tenure at Studebaker. All the Stanisol (Is that how it's spelled? Is that stuff still around?) in the world couldn't clean the grease off Studebaker's skids by the time Sherwood Egbert arrived.

                    RIP, SE. BP
                    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                    Ayn Rand:
                    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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                    • #11
                      It's my understanding that the inside front cover pic of the Cruiser for the '65 brochure was taken at the club house.

                      If you look closely at that pic, it appears that the left front bumper guard is not aligned with the right. Musta been a rough day at the Egberts.

                      John

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                      • #12
                        Has anyone seen the 1961 Hawk Concept Car for sale in Turning Wheels? The ad says that Sherwood Egbert drove it when he got to South Bend. The picture from Turning Wheels looks to be from 1961.

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                        • #13
                          "Has anyone seen the 1961 Hawk Concept Car for sale in Turning Wheels"

                          It's not a concept car. It is Paul McKeon's customized Hawk built in the early 60s.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 556063 View Post
                            If you'd really like a good discussion about what Sherwood Egbert faced as President of Studebaker, and what it meant to the history of the company, the best explanation I've seen is on pages 41- 48 in the book "Studebaker - Less Than They Promised" by Michael Beatty, Patrick Furlong and Loren Pennington (1984). Try to buy it on eBay or at a swap meet.
                            There is also a very good discussion of the corporate decision-making that led to Egbert's being hired and related matters in "Studebaker, The Life and Death of an American Corporation" by Donald T. Critchlow, Indiana Univ Press, 1996
                            Skip Lackie

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                            • #15
                              I believe the garden party scene featuring the Lark Convertible in the 1961 Brochure was also shot at the Clubhouse.

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