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What happened between Mercedes and Studebaker

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  • What happened between Mercedes and Studebaker

    Since I am relearing everything I knew about Studebaker and have been learning about Mercedes for about 15 years now, I wondered if anyone knew what happened that ended the relationship. Was there ever talk of a merger along the lines of the Chrysler/Mercedes merger? Was Studebakers managment so bad they could not see that latching on to Mercedes would be a good idea or was Mercedes smart enough to see that Mercedes was on the fast train to history and got while the getting was good? Both were forward thinking companies with amazing build quality and Mercedes still is.

    Former owner/owner with Dad:
    58 Packard Golden Hawk
    62 Hawk
    62 Lark
    63 Lark
    64 Lark
    63 Champ

    Lakeland, FL

  • #2
    I remember reading that one issue that brought the relationship to a breaking point was the lack of replacement parts and a dealer support system. One thing mentioned was a gentleman from the NY area who was shown in front of a Park Avenue dealership of MB cars. Basically the article called him somwhat of a con-artist.

    The early MB's had way poorer quality control than what was expected even in the late 50's for a German built automobile. One urban legend that has been floating around was that Studebaker also encroached on some designs that were associated with MB, one being the Tri-Star and the other the grille on the Hawk series. I am sure that others have more deatiled information.

    I for one was surprised when I started to collect STP material to find that Studebaker had chosen to use the slogan developed in Germany on the early STP display racks. The war was just about 10 years in the past at that time when the Mercedes hit the US and I am sure that there was some backlash that needed to be over come before the line was to be be accepted by the US market place.

    Seems IIRC Studebker was also approached to do a joint effort with Porche and also import the VW.

    Somewhat strange for a company who ran more ads durin the entire war proclaimming it's commitment to defeat the German war machine.

    Comment


    • #3
      I remember reading that one issue that brought the relationship to a breaking point was the lack of replacement parts and a dealer support system. One thing mentioned was a gentleman from the NY area who was shown in front of a Park Avenue dealership of MB cars. Basically the article called him somwhat of a con-artist.

      The early MB's had way poorer quality control than what was expected even in the late 50's for a German built automobile. One urban legend that has been floating around was that Studebaker also encroached on some designs that were associated with MB, one being the Tri-Star and the other the grille on the Hawk series. I am sure that others have more deatiled information.

      I for one was surprised when I started to collect STP material to find that Studebaker had chosen to use the slogan developed in Germany on the early STP display racks. The war was just about 10 years in the past at that time when the Mercedes hit the US and I am sure that there was some backlash that needed to be over come before the line was to be be accepted by the US market place.

      Seems IIRC Studebker was also approached to do a joint effort with Porche and also import the VW.

      Somewhat strange for a company who ran more ads durin the entire war proclaimming it's commitment to defeat the German war machine.

      Comment


      • #4

        Studebaker was the authorized importer of Mercedes Benz automobiles from the mid 1950's until the end of production in Canada. This distributorship was a division of Studebaker just like STP, Gravely, etc.

        Some of the Studebaker dealers stayed on with Mercedes when Studebaker stopped producing automobiles. Mercedes Benz picked up a great deal of assets from Studebaker when they left the automobile market. The best account of what happened between Studebaker and Mercedes is in an early Automobile Quarterly, but I do not remember the volume number.

        Sherwood Egbert pissed everyone off big time in the summer of 1963 when he drove his Mercedes Benz through the picket line during a Studebaker factory strike!!! Also, the division head for Mercedes Benz was Ron Fleener. His wife Martha was Sherwood Egberts executive secretary. She has since passed on but a few of us were fortunate enough to meet her at the Avanti meets. I met her in 1993 in South Bend at the 30th Annivaersary Avanti Meet.

        1954 Commander
        1958 Golden Hawk
        1963 Daytona Convertible
        1963 R2 Daytona
        1963 R2 GT Hawk
        1963 R1 Wagonaire
        1963 R4 Avanti
        1964 Champ
        1966 Cruiser

        Comment


        • #5

          Studebaker was the authorized importer of Mercedes Benz automobiles from the mid 1950's until the end of production in Canada. This distributorship was a division of Studebaker just like STP, Gravely, etc.

          Some of the Studebaker dealers stayed on with Mercedes when Studebaker stopped producing automobiles. Mercedes Benz picked up a great deal of assets from Studebaker when they left the automobile market. The best account of what happened between Studebaker and Mercedes is in an early Automobile Quarterly, but I do not remember the volume number.

          Sherwood Egbert pissed everyone off big time in the summer of 1963 when he drove his Mercedes Benz through the picket line during a Studebaker factory strike!!! Also, the division head for Mercedes Benz was Ron Fleener. His wife Martha was Sherwood Egberts executive secretary. She has since passed on but a few of us were fortunate enough to meet her at the Avanti meets. I met her in 1993 in South Bend at the 30th Annivaersary Avanti Meet.

          1954 Commander
          1958 Golden Hawk
          1963 Daytona Convertible
          1963 R2 Daytona
          1963 R2 GT Hawk
          1963 R1 Wagonaire
          1963 R4 Avanti
          1964 Champ
          1966 Cruiser

          Comment


          • #6
            Even stranger, Bill, when you remember that that family (Studebaker) had immigrated from Germany more than a century before WWII.

            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
              Even stranger, Bill, when you remember that that family (Studebaker) had immigrated from Germany more than a century before WWII.

              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
                When Studebaker decided to finally pull the plug on it's participation in the auto business, the Mercedes arrangement no longer fit into Studebaker's business strategy. Mercedes had effectively learned how to conduct business in the U.S. through the arrangement with Studebaker. Daimler-Benz bought the rights to sell their own product back, I believe in 1965, and pulled the M-B Sales USA, Inc. unit into Daimler-Benz corporate structure. One must remember that Studebaker did not go out of business, it just quit building and selling autos. Studebaker's focus was turned toward running it's other divisions, and they had no interest in staying in the auto business in any form. Studebaker later in the 1960's merged with Worthington and then was acquired by McGraw Edison. The "bones" of the company still exist today as a leasing unit of McGraw Edison. I don't know if this link has ever been posted on the forum:

                http://www.studebaker.com/name.html

                I don't think talk of a Studebaker/Mercedes marriage would have ever been seriously considered. For one, the corporate cultures were light years apart. Studebaker would have been so weak, it wouldn't have been a merger, it would have been a outright swallow up. Studebaker had miniscule (1-4%) market share, but many dealers. Mercedes wanted the distribution only. I doubt Mercedes ever had interest in the aging plant and nightmarish financials that came with the manufacturing side of Studebaker. The name Studebaker wouldn't have helped their public image, either.

                Don't get me started on what a HUGE mistake the Daimler takeover (not merger) of Chrysler was. If they ran like a steamroller over Chrysler, imagine what they would have done to poor little Studebaker. Daimler's record of acquisition is one of conquest and spoils rather than co-operation and growth. Actually, I think Studebaker Management was smart to refuse if there ever was a Daimler offer to buy the company, but I doubt there was. The political landscape of the world in the 60's was a huge barrier to it anyway.

                Kevin Wolford
                Plymouth, IN

                55 Champion
                60 Lark VI Conv.
                63 Avanti R1

                Comment


                • #9
                  When Studebaker decided to finally pull the plug on it's participation in the auto business, the Mercedes arrangement no longer fit into Studebaker's business strategy. Mercedes had effectively learned how to conduct business in the U.S. through the arrangement with Studebaker. Daimler-Benz bought the rights to sell their own product back, I believe in 1965, and pulled the M-B Sales USA, Inc. unit into Daimler-Benz corporate structure. One must remember that Studebaker did not go out of business, it just quit building and selling autos. Studebaker's focus was turned toward running it's other divisions, and they had no interest in staying in the auto business in any form. Studebaker later in the 1960's merged with Worthington and then was acquired by McGraw Edison. The "bones" of the company still exist today as a leasing unit of McGraw Edison. I don't know if this link has ever been posted on the forum:

                  http://www.studebaker.com/name.html

                  I don't think talk of a Studebaker/Mercedes marriage would have ever been seriously considered. For one, the corporate cultures were light years apart. Studebaker would have been so weak, it wouldn't have been a merger, it would have been a outright swallow up. Studebaker had miniscule (1-4%) market share, but many dealers. Mercedes wanted the distribution only. I doubt Mercedes ever had interest in the aging plant and nightmarish financials that came with the manufacturing side of Studebaker. The name Studebaker wouldn't have helped their public image, either.

                  Don't get me started on what a HUGE mistake the Daimler takeover (not merger) of Chrysler was. If they ran like a steamroller over Chrysler, imagine what they would have done to poor little Studebaker. Daimler's record of acquisition is one of conquest and spoils rather than co-operation and growth. Actually, I think Studebaker Management was smart to refuse if there ever was a Daimler offer to buy the company, but I doubt there was. The political landscape of the world in the 60's was a huge barrier to it anyway.

                  Kevin Wolford
                  Plymouth, IN

                  55 Champion
                  60 Lark VI Conv.
                  63 Avanti R1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    FWIW: The Olds / Caddy dealersip in Newton, Mass (Frost Motors) turned their used car lot (formerly a Borgward dealership) into the Studebaker / MB site when they took it on.
                    They had a Lark-type "Glued to the floor" at the rear of the showroom and MBs all over the place, inside and out.
                    I wasn't into Studebakers at that time, so didn't pay much attention.
                    I think that I tried out a Carman Ghia there, but it was to noisy.
                    I also tried a 190SL, used, for $2000. The steering wheel was too large and hit against my thighs. The salesman said I could cut the wheel, like in a plane. It may have worked OK, unless I wanted to change directions!
                    I was tired of my 1957 Lincoln about that time, so it must have been late 1963 / 64. (JFK had been shot.)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      FWIW: The Olds / Caddy dealersip in Newton, Mass (Frost Motors) turned their used car lot (formerly a Borgward dealership) into the Studebaker / MB site when they took it on.
                      They had a Lark-type "Glued to the floor" at the rear of the showroom and MBs all over the place, inside and out.
                      I wasn't into Studebakers at that time, so didn't pay much attention.
                      I think that I tried out a Carman Ghia there, but it was to noisy.
                      I also tried a 190SL, used, for $2000. The steering wheel was too large and hit against my thighs. The salesman said I could cut the wheel, like in a plane. It may have worked OK, unless I wanted to change directions!
                      I was tired of my 1957 Lincoln about that time, so it must have been late 1963 / 64. (JFK had been shot.)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I had a chance today to buy a running late 50's 190 ponton sedan. Looks like this (but not as shiny)...



                        Pretty neat little car. 4 speed on the column.


                        Dick Steinkamp
                        Bellingham, WA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I had a chance today to buy a running late 50's 190 ponton sedan. Looks like this (but not as shiny)...



                          Pretty neat little car. 4 speed on the column.


                          Dick Steinkamp
                          Bellingham, WA

                          Comment

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