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  • Last South Bend car built on this date....

    12/20/63 was the last day the regular car production line ran in South Bend. A moment of silence, please! (The last trucks were built on 12/27 and the Avantis, I have heard both dates of 12/26 and 12/31).

    A couple years ago, I was in a Friday's restaurant with my daughters and had an SNM sweatshirt on. A distinguished-looking fellow came over to my table, commenting on my sweatshirt, and told me he worked at a South Bend TV station in his early or mid 20's in 1963 and had snuck into the plant on the last day and took 'spy footage' of the last car going down the line, which was spirited off to the NBC affiliate in Chicago and used on Huntley-Brinkley that night. I thought I had heard that story before and looked in the Dec. '83 TW and did see that mentioned in a South Bend Tribune article from Dec. '63.

    He said he didn't shave for a few days, paid a guy the day before for his employee badge, and just walked in with the crowd the next morning.

    He also told me he had driven the station's Avanti, some days or weeks earlier, out to the SB airport to interview Jimmy Hoffa and sideswiped a bridge en route but kept going despite pretty massive fiberglass damage to the car! He did get the Hoffa interview. He claims the car was loaned to the station by Studebaker and that they had promptly repaired the car afterwards. (I wondered if they might have actually replaced it with a similar-looking Avanti.)

    I invited him to speak at a friend's Ohio Region SDC meet the next summer. He accepted and was an interesting speaker. Ironically, one of our club members had his white '64 GT with black Sports Roof and red cloth interior, built on 12/20/63, at the meet the same day. I took a picture of the speaker next to the car, as they probably passed each other that December day some 40+ years earlier.

    He was a Notre Dame grad and still attended the occasional home football game there, despite living over four hours' drive away, but had never been to the Studebaker Museum.

    SIDE MORAL OF THE STORY: Wear those Studebaker shirts out and about.

    Bill Pressler
    Kent, OH
    '63 Lark Daytona Skytop
    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
    I've often wondered why or how the production schedule seemed skewed toward Hawks at the end of South Bend production. Could it be that, even then, people realized their ultimate value, or at least interest, because that proud model was coming to an end? (I realize there are less glamorous explanations, like using up parts!)

    I just checked and counted: Of the final 33 Jet-Thrust powered cars built, 24 of them were Hawks! (In fact, Bill: The last Jet Green 1964 Gran Turismo Hawk built was a full-package, R2/4-speed with black vinyl interior; 64V19753! [:0] That ought to excite you enough to delay getting to sleep tonight!) 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
      I've often wondered why or how the production schedule seemed skewed toward Hawks at the end of South Bend production. Could it be that, even then, people realized their ultimate value, or at least interest, because that proud model was coming to an end? (I realize there are less glamorous explanations, like using up parts!)

      I just checked and counted: Of the final 33 Jet-Thrust powered cars built, 24 of them were Hawks! (In fact, Bill: The last Jet Green 1964 Gran Turismo Hawk built was a full-package, R2/4-speed with black vinyl interior; 64V19753! [:0] That ought to excite you enough to delay getting to sleep tonight!) 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


      • #4
        Bob, the only input I can give for the schedule leaning toward Hawks is a passage I recall hearing in the 1983 TV Documentary "Studebaker - Less Than They Promised". The man speaking in the documentary said as the end of production was being explained: "In the end, only the Hawk was selling well, but that wasn't enough to keep the line running." It figures that if they had parking lots full of Lark Types, and they could build and invoice a Hawk to a dealer, that they would thus build Hawks. But, I realize the answer may not be that simple!

        Kevin Wolford
        Plymouth, IN

        55 Champion
        60 Lark VI Conv.
        63 Avanti R1

        Comment


        • #5
          Bob, the only input I can give for the schedule leaning toward Hawks is a passage I recall hearing in the 1983 TV Documentary "Studebaker - Less Than They Promised". The man speaking in the documentary said as the end of production was being explained: "In the end, only the Hawk was selling well, but that wasn't enough to keep the line running." It figures that if they had parking lots full of Lark Types, and they could build and invoice a Hawk to a dealer, that they would thus build Hawks. But, I realize the answer may not be that simple!

          Kevin Wolford
          Plymouth, IN

          55 Champion
          60 Lark VI Conv.
          63 Avanti R1

          Comment


          • #6
            Bob, how far ahead of the last car built was/is that Hawk?

            Miscreant adrift in
            the BerStuda Triangle


            1957 Transtar 1/2ton
            1960 Larkvertible V8
            1958 Provincial wagon
            1953 Commander coupe

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

            Comment


            • #7
              Bob, how far ahead of the last car built was/is that Hawk?

              Miscreant adrift in
              the BerStuda Triangle


              1957 Transtar 1/2ton
              1960 Larkvertible V8
              1958 Provincial wagon
              1953 Commander coupe

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

              Comment


              • #8
                quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs

                Bob, how far ahead of the last car built was/is that Hawk?

                Miscreant adrift in
                the BerStuda Triangle
                Bob: 64V19753 was built December 18, 1963; a couple days from The End.

                Of course, there were more Hawks built after 64V19753, even R2/4speed package Hawks, but it was the [u]last</u> Jet Green Hawk built. Bill Pressler, who started this thread, loves Jet Green 1964 Hawks, which is why I commented on the last Jet Green one being an R2/4-speed package car. (It also had a black vinyl Sports Roof against its black vinyl interior, so it must have been a real looker.)

                Sadly, it went to Albany NY (read: snow, salt, ice), so its probability of surviving is miniscule. [V] [8D] 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


                • #9
                  quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs

                  Bob, how far ahead of the last car built was/is that Hawk?

                  Miscreant adrift in
                  the BerStuda Triangle
                  Bob: 64V19753 was built December 18, 1963; a couple days from The End.

                  Of course, there were more Hawks built after 64V19753, even R2/4speed package Hawks, but it was the [u]last</u> Jet Green Hawk built. Bill Pressler, who started this thread, loves Jet Green 1964 Hawks, which is why I commented on the last Jet Green one being an R2/4-speed package car. (It also had a black vinyl Sports Roof against its black vinyl interior, so it must have been a real looker.)

                  Sadly, it went to Albany NY (read: snow, salt, ice), so its probability of surviving is miniscule. [V] [8D] 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


                  • #10
                    Bill, when I talked with former Lewisburg, PA Studebaker dealer Dave Meachum, he mentioned that he watched the assembly line footage on the Huntley-Brinkley evening news back in December, '63. Pretty clever of that reporter to sneak into the factory like that. Makes you wonder what other shaky things went on there over the years!

                    Dave Bonn
                    '54 Champion
                    Valencia, PA

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Bill, when I talked with former Lewisburg, PA Studebaker dealer Dave Meachum, he mentioned that he watched the assembly line footage on the Huntley-Brinkley evening news back in December, '63. Pretty clever of that reporter to sneak into the factory like that. Makes you wonder what other shaky things went on there over the years!

                      Dave Bonn
                      '54 Champion
                      Valencia, PA

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Bob, yes, I would do unsavory things to have a Hawk like a Jet Green R2 with Black Sports Roof and black interior (well, no, not really, but.....!)

                        Dave, I also remember the guy saying that when the last car came down the line, many of the assembly line workers just followed the car down the line. He also said he saw older, grown men with tears streaming down their faces. I believe it.

                        I believe this fellow, as he expressed having no genuine car interest of any kind, just that he was in the plant on the last day and that it was a real "people" story in South Bend. (A real understatement.)

                        Bob, on your earlier post, I always thought Hawk production was "ramped up" those last few weeks, to give dealers inventory that would last through the '64 model year since Hawks would not be built at Hamilton. Of course, maybe some folks did decide to "snap them up" once the news got out that they were going to be dropped.

                        A small irony to this story, is that yesterday my Stude friend Joe Kastellec and I went to the Crawford Museum in Cleveland and visited their amazing library ($8.00 to park, $6.50 admittance to library AND the museum for "seniors"-oops, I just look the part!) and you tell them you want to see everything they have for any year and make/model of car and a few minutes later they bring out the owners' manual, showroom brochures, salesmen's fact books, color chips, press kits, shop manuals, etc. etc. etc.! Anyway, the Museum has the dead-last Studebaker Avanti built (not counting the older ones Studebaker re-serialed!). It's a white R3 Powershift car, serial 5643. A real beauty, unrestored, with less than 10K miles. It was donated to the Museum by former Stude dealer Joe Erdellac.

                        If the SNM ever has a special display on Avantis from '63 to current, I sure wish there'd be someway they could get this car on loan!

                        Bill Pressler
                        Kent, OH
                        '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1

                        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


                        • #13
                          Bob, yes, I would do unsavory things to have a Hawk like a Jet Green R2 with Black Sports Roof and black interior (well, no, not really, but.....!)

                          Dave, I also remember the guy saying that when the last car came down the line, many of the assembly line workers just followed the car down the line. He also said he saw older, grown men with tears streaming down their faces. I believe it.

                          I believe this fellow, as he expressed having no genuine car interest of any kind, just that he was in the plant on the last day and that it was a real "people" story in South Bend. (A real understatement.)

                          Bob, on your earlier post, I always thought Hawk production was "ramped up" those last few weeks, to give dealers inventory that would last through the '64 model year since Hawks would not be built at Hamilton. Of course, maybe some folks did decide to "snap them up" once the news got out that they were going to be dropped.

                          A small irony to this story, is that yesterday my Stude friend Joe Kastellec and I went to the Crawford Museum in Cleveland and visited their amazing library ($8.00 to park, $6.50 admittance to library AND the museum for "seniors"-oops, I just look the part!) and you tell them you want to see everything they have for any year and make/model of car and a few minutes later they bring out the owners' manual, showroom brochures, salesmen's fact books, color chips, press kits, shop manuals, etc. etc. etc.! Anyway, the Museum has the dead-last Studebaker Avanti built (not counting the older ones Studebaker re-serialed!). It's a white R3 Powershift car, serial 5643. A real beauty, unrestored, with less than 10K miles. It was donated to the Museum by former Stude dealer Joe Erdellac.

                          If the SNM ever has a special display on Avantis from '63 to current, I sure wish there'd be someway they could get this car on loan!

                          Bill Pressler
                          Kent, OH
                          '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1

                          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


                          • #14
                            quote:Originally posted by Bill Pressler


                            Bob, on your earlier post, I always thought Hawk production was "ramped up" those last few weeks, to give dealers inventory that would last through the '64 model year since Hawks would not be built at Hamilton. Of course, maybe some folks did decide to "snap them up" once the news got out that they were going to be dropped.
                            A look at the build sheets may answer that question. If they were factory ordered, they would possibly say "Sold-Rush" on them.

                            Craig

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              quote:Originally posted by Bill Pressler


                              Bob, on your earlier post, I always thought Hawk production was "ramped up" those last few weeks, to give dealers inventory that would last through the '64 model year since Hawks would not be built at Hamilton. Of course, maybe some folks did decide to "snap them up" once the news got out that they were going to be dropped.
                              A look at the build sheets may answer that question. If they were factory ordered, they would possibly say "Sold-Rush" on them.

                              Craig

                              Comment

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