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  • New TW--don't read unless you have Feb's already!

    I was impressed (as I usually am) with Andy Beckman's column. I had never heard of the four-door hardtop project...and also what seemed to be the consideration of naming the '56 Clipper series, the "Pierce Arrow"! Amazing to me.

    A fellow on the Edmunds forum, a real know-it-all, has told me that nothing made its way from Detroit to South Bend after the Detroit shutdown...that Studebaker ordered everything burned. I told him he needs to explain to me the row of Packard file cabinets in the archives at the SNM!

    The Pierce-Arrow thing seems to me like it might have originated in South Bend, although I couldn't explain why I think that.
    Bill Pressler
    Kent, OH
    (formerly Greenville, PA)
    Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
    Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
    1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
    1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
    All are in Australia now

  • #2
    Bill, look carefully through the 4-door hardtop prototype to the other side, which is still a conventional, B-pillar 4-door sedan.

    I can't seem to see any flip-out rear quarter windows on the opposite side, suggesting that the 4-door hardtop, if there was to be one, would have been built on the shorter 4-door's wheelbase. I wonder if that was because they knew there could be issues with frame strength if they tried to build the 4-door hardtop on the longer frame.

    Pure conjecture, of course. 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.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
      Bill, look carefully through the 4-door hardtop prototype to the other side, which is still a conventional, B-pillar 4-door sedan.

      I can't seem to see any flip-out rear quarter windows on the opposite side, suggesting that the 4-door hardtop, if there was to be one, would have been built on the shorter 4-door's wheelbase. I wonder if that was because they knew there could be issues with frame strength if they tried to build the 4-door hardtop on the longer frame.

      Pure conjecture, of course. BP
      Bob, I had noticed the pillar on the other side, but hadn't noticed it didn't have the vent window. I'd say your conjecture of it being planned to be built on the 116" wheelbase is probably dead-on.

      It's amazing to me that in the 28 years I've belonged to SDC, new and interesting stuff like the four-door hardtop and '56 "Pierce Arrow" continue to be discovered!
      Bill Pressler
      Kent, OH
      (formerly Greenville, PA)
      Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
      Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
      1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
      1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
      All are in Australia now

      Comment


      • #4
        Looking at the pictures of the 4-door hardtop I really like the styling and proportions of the car. I realize that the other side of the car had the traditional 4-door sedan style. It's fun to wonder how it would have sold if it were built.
        It's incredible how, over the years, discoveries of possible future Studebakers emerge.
        Many thanks to Andy Beckman for the story.
        Rog
        '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
        Smithtown,NY
        Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club

        Comment


        • #5
          To me, the roofline/C-pillar/rear window looks like a 1952-1954 Ford/Mercury two door hardtop.
          The only four door hardtop that I remember owning was a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.
          Gary L.
          Wappinger, NY

          SDC member since 1968
          Studebaker enthusiast much longer

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with Gary, but I associated that Stainless trim and rear backlight shape with a Detroit Packard!

            They could have even used a stock rounded corner rear glass and covered over the corner to create that unusual for Studebaker rear glass shape.
            It is similar to the much later '61 Lark W Body 4 Door Sedan rear glass, but with the trim looks like Ford or Packard, very unique for Studebaker.

            I do LOVE that '57 President 4 Door Hardtop though. Who knew that they had some of these really Cool ideas, only to be shot down by the Budget.

            It probably would not have been a huge seller though with most Stude. buyers being SO practical, they would have worried about all the leaks and rattles a 4 Door Hardtop would have at least some of.

            Although the '55-'57 Buick, Olds and Chevy's did sell Ok, I don't think they sold anywhere near the Sedan version.
            Last edited by StudeRich; 01-31-2015, 01:41 PM.
            StudeRich
            Second Generation Stude Driver,
            Proud '54 Starliner Owner

            Comment


            • #7
              This topic provides an excellent opportunity to learn what Studebaker was up against in the mid-1950s. Let's explore that.

              First, some competitive figures. I will use Chevrolet and Pontiac for comparisons, since they are priced close to the subject 1957 Studebaker Presidents, both Regal (short wheelbase) and Classic (long wheelbase).

              1957 Chevrolets, all 4-doors and all V8s, MSRP followed by Production:
              210 Series:
              Sedans: $2,274 / 260,401
              Hardtops: $2,370 / 16,178


              Bel-Air Series:
              Sedans: $2,390 / 254,331
              Hardtops: $2,464 / 137,672
              Note: The above Chevrolet production figures include six-cylinder models. The prices are for V8s, but I have no access to production figures by engine for each model/body style.)

              1957 Pontiac Chieftans:
              Sedans: $2,527 / 35,671
              Hardtops: $2,614 / 40,074
              (Yes, the 1957 Pontiac Chieftan Catalina 4-door hardtop outsold the 4-door sedan...and for only $87 more, why not?)

              1957 Studebakers:
              President Regal: $2,407 / 3,127
              President Classic: $2,539 / 6,063



              Think this through: Studebaker sold 9,190 1957 President 4-door sedans, Regal and Classic combined. The figure presented in Andy's article says 4-door hardtops commanded 4% of the domestic market. Let's be generous and assume that Studebaker would have sold 8% of its 1957 President 4-doors as 4-door hardtops, had they been available.

              8% of 9,190 is 735 units.

              The report says Studebaker would have had to spend $4,000,000 R&D and tooling to bring out a 1957 4-door hardtop. $4,000,000 R&D and tooling divided over 735 units sold would mean that Studebaker would have had to spend $5,442 per car in R&D and tooling to bring out a 4-door hardtop. Even if those cars were retailed at $2,639 each ($100 more than a President Classic sedan), Studebaker would have lost $2,803 per 4-door hardtop in R&D and tooling alone, not to mention the actual cost of building the car!

              Or, they could have recovered their R&D and tooling spread over those 735 cars if they sold each one for $8,081 MSRP. At $8,081 each, they would have only been priced about 58% more than a 1957 Cadillac Series 62 4-door hardtop!

              As Studebaker history buffs, we need to realize the terrible situation Studebaker was in as they faced the realities of the brutal mid-1950s domestic automobile market. Sometimes I think it's a wonder they lasted as long as they did. 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.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
                This topic provides an excellent opportunity to learn what Studebaker was up against in the mid-1950s. Let's explore that....

                ...As Studebaker history buffs, we need to realize the terrible situation Studebaker was in as they faced the realities of the brutal mid-1950s domestic automobile market. Sometimes I think it's a wonder they lasted as long as they did. BP
                Interesting analysis. If they had gone ahead with the four-door hardtop, how many would they have sold in 1958?
                In 1963 I wrote to Sherwood Egbert suggesting that they should build a two-door hardtop station wagon (always liked the Chevrolet Nomads). I actually received a nice reply from him saying that they had determined that there wasn't a market for two-door wagons.
                Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
                '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Bob

                  Good analysis, though I think they would have planned to amortize the R & D/tooling costs over a five year body run. The sales take-rate of four door hardtops versus their four door sedan counterpart skews toward the four door hardtop as one moves up the model range regardless of make, witness the Pontiac Chieftain numbers. There is a very good likelihood that President buyers, being in the upper range customers, would have been more receptive to the President four door hardtops than simply the overall 4% domestic market would indicate. One would also expect that management planned to offer a Commander Deluxe version as well, all of which would have counted when amortizing the development costs.

                  Steve

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Still a tough sell in any case. The planners faced a tough market.
                    "In the heart of Arkansas."
                    Searcy, Arkansas
                    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                    1952 2R pickup

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For those of you who do not have this yet, here is a sneak preview of the Feb. TW Article courtesy of Andy Beckman and the Studebaker National Museum.


                      Click image for larger version

Name:	57 Pres. 4 Dr. HT.jpg
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                      StudeRich
                      Second Generation Stude Driver,
                      Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                        For those of you who do not have this yet, here is a sneak preview of the Feb. TW Article courtesy of Andy Beckman and the Studebaker National Museum.
                        Thanks, Rich!

                        I otherwise don't expect to see it for another week and a half here.

                        Craig

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
                          The report says Studebaker would have had to spend $4,000,000 R&D and tooling to bring out a 1957 4-door hardtop. $4,000,000 R&D and tooling divided over 735 units sold would mean that Studebaker would have had to spend $5,442 per car in R&D and tooling to bring out a 4-door hardtop. Even if those cars were retailed at $2,639 each ($100 more than a President Classic sedan), Studebaker would have lost $2,803 per 4-door hardtop in R&D and tooling alone, not to mention the actual cost of building the car!
                          I wonder how much it cost Chrysler to create their 1956 4-door hardtops from a sedan body. They had greater difficulty than Studebaker would have had creating theirs, with that two-piece rear door window to clear the wheel opening, which was a non-issue for Studebaker.

                          Craig

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that side view looks so much like a '56 Chrysler!
                            KURTRUK
                            (read it backwards)




                            Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong. -A. Lincoln

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OH, you mean like this:

                              Click image for larger version

Name:	55 Desoto.jpg
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ID:	1695309 I don't care what anybody says, THAT is a beautiful '56 Desoto. In the 60's the Stylists at MoPar forgot how to do that!

                              STUDEBAKER content: the roofline looks similar to the '57 Prototype Studebaker President 4 Door Hardtop!
                              Last edited by StudeRich; 02-02-2015, 02:12 PM.
                              StudeRich
                              Second Generation Stude Driver,
                              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                              Comment

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