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History Studebaker: Less Than They Promised

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by jakespeed63, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. "1983 PBS documentary about the famed independent carmaker, which started out building horse-drawn carriages, transitioned to building automobiles, and hung around until 1966"

    Wife feeling really sick. Laying low today playing indoor fetch with the dog and binge watching YouTube car films.(and drinking too much coffee, time to switch to beer)
    Ran across this interesting little PBS film, from 1983. Makes sense of some unanswered questions. Always wanted an Avanti or Lark. Actually went to Studebaker museum, like 20 years ago.

    chevy57dude likes this.
  2. aircap
    Joined: Mar 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,641


    Studebaker engineering was OK, styling was great. But Studebaker bosses made some of the dumbest decisions in American corporate history. If there was a way to make money, they chose the other way. One or two major decisions at the right time in the right direction and Studebaker would be a giant in the industry..... Oh, well.
  3. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 2,585

    Mike VV
    from SoCal

    They actually started out building wheel-barrows. Not sure the exact timeline, but I believe they were before the covered wagons.
    And...what aircap said. They made REALLY dumb money decisions, for many years.

    I have, well, several Studebakers. My daily driver is a 59, 2dr. wagon Lark. It's soon to be replaced by a 54, 2dr. wagon (Conestoga).

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
  4. rudestude
    Joined: Mar 23, 2016
    Posts: 2,911


    Actually the wagons came first...John Clement Studebaker built covered wagons around was John Mohler Studebaker , 3rd son of John Clement Studebaker, that started building wheel barrows ,he became known as wheel barrow Johnny....

    Sent from my QTASUN1 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    jakespeed63 and LOU WELLS like this.

  5. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,492

    from So Cal

  6. On an old episodes of Gunsmoke Miss Kitty is shown getting on a Studebaker wagon.
    dana barlow and jakespeed63 like this.
  7. Caught this episode of My Classic Car today. This guy's got the market cornered!! Incredible selection of original survivors.
    dana barlow likes this.
  8. 28 Ford PU and dana barlow like this.
  9. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,312


    Here's a '63 Avanti we're just finishing up. It was in a barn, literally, I got it out and into the shop in August, we blew it apart and put it back together concentrating on the mechanical & electricals. I just took this pic when I got back (15 minutes ago) from the 1st open road test, 40 miles. DSC00372.JPG DSC00366.JPG
  10. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,306

    from Quincy, IL

    First, let me state I have owned several Studebakers over the decades and own two now, a '56 Sky Hawk and a '60 Lark Hardtop.

    That said, and giving due recognition to the article about the V8 engineering, I think it is worth noting that most other components in Studebaker vehicles, especially in Post War production, were items purchased from major suppliers not parts engineered by Studebaker. For example, transmissions were Borg Warner, rear axle assemblies were Spicer (Dana), steering gear (at least some) were Ross, major electrical components were at times supplied by Delco, Prestolite, etc.

    None of this is to say they weren't good cars, only that the major engineering that Studebaker did in-house was the chassis/suspension and bodies. Both were 'average' in most respects. The most popular styling was done by Raymond Lowey Studios.

    Nonetheless, I think the origins of the company in 1852, it's transition to motor cars and the excellent quality and even luxury of Studebaker cars was evident in the Teens, Twenties and into the late Thirties are noteworthy and laudatory. By that time, many things had changed and Studebaker went the way of the other 'Independent' auto manufacturers. Too little volume to generate the massive amounts of cash to reinvest in new plants and updated designs of the products.

  11. V8 Bob
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 2,819

    V8 Bob

    Interesting movie, as I grew up in South Bend, and still live in the area. Many of my childhood neighbors, along with high school friend's family worked at Studebaker, and I was fortunate to work and drive for 35 years at the former Studebaker Proving Grounds. I don't have any Studebaker cars, but do have a genuine wagon! :)
  12. GTS225
    Joined: Jul 2, 2006
    Posts: 1,203


  13. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,148

    from Minnesota

  14. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    from Central Ca

    I'd heard more than once, that one of many reasons for their demise, was they were letting the bean counters run the engineering/design department.
  15. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,671


    Serious question---what is the appeal of the enormously ugly Lark?
  16. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    from Ioway

    Guys who voted for Adlai Stevenson, I betcha
  17. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,306

    from Quincy, IL

    You might ask yourself what is the reason you feel compelled to consistently post negative comments on various threads. I have read your posts for years and long ago noted the rarity of a positive comment.

    I would suppose it may be chalked up to viewpoint, difference of opinion, personality, etc.
    In other words, the same characteristics that determines all of our tastes and choices.

    In more colloquial terms...”opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one”.

    belair, Bcometfx, 28 Ford PU and 8 others like this.
  18. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,306

    from Quincy, IL

    partsdawg........I respectfully disagree with your comment, in the greater part. To a far greater extent than Studebaker and the other Independents, GM, Ford and Chrysler engineered their own components. Not only did they design their own parts, they were often suppliers to other makes. Delco, Saginaw, Guide, Hydramatic, Frigidaire, Harrison were all GM divisions that supplied other manufacturers.

  19. aircap
    Joined: Mar 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,641


    Our beloved Mr. Palma was referring to engines..... Not to the history of Studebaker engineering as a whole.

    Yes, most (not all) of their engine designs were kickass... the President was a straight eight powerhouse that thundered at Indy, the classic Champion Six engine was legendary in its durability, and their 289 V8 was stout and went fast (but the heads didn't breath well until a supercharger added some pressure). Their last modern inline six cracked heads like a short order cook making omelettes.

    Some of their suspension designs were great, and putting the heater under the front seat was genius. Ask any South Bend devotee about Studebaker bodywork (especially front fenders) rusting out as soon as they left the factory. Studebaker knew they had a rust problem, and they know how to solve it - they just chose not to. Also, Studebaker engines were known by some as "Indiana Road Oilers" - they leaked oil like crazy. In fact, the joke among some Stude lovers is that Studebaker is German for leaky engine.

    I love 'em, and have owned several. I've been in the club for 20 years - but I don't bash them without knowing the whole story.
    54stude, Blues4U and Hnstray like this.
  20. 59-60 Larks are the best looking to me......especially the 2 dr hardtops.
    dana barlow likes this.
  21. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 6,928


    Jake - Many thanks for the video. Sad that so many lost jobs when it all ended.
    The Champion Starlight Coupe is my favorite Stude.
  22. This '53 gave me way more then I was promised. :(

  23. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,414


    the Studebaker dealer in my home town was underfunded, in a lousy location and also sold another winner. International trucks , he was doomed from the start. They had a terrible service department and had maybe one car of each line at any given time. you were expected to put a deposit down and order your car.
  24. crashfarmer
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,274

    from Iowa

    My neighbors were Studebaker people. They had a 53 that sat under a tree for many years that I tried to buy but they wouldn't sell it to me, eventually they gave it to a crusher though. :( The last Studebaker they bought new was a 65 Lark and it was still sitting in the barn the last I knew. Their Studebaker pickup had been sitting in the barn beside the Lark but for some reason they moved it to the far south fenceline on their farm along the highway, about a mile south of the barn. It sat there for a while then it disappeared.

    I almost bought a 57 Golden Hawk in the 80's. They wanted $100 for it but I had a new baby son and that $100 was just more than I thought I could part with at the time. :(
    jakespeed63 likes this.
  25. Thanks for all the stories.!!
    Time to throw in 2 quick ones of my own

    As a wee lad, my Moms close friend had a black ‘64? Hawk. I used to ride in the back seat up on the arm rest. Yikes!!

    Later in life, a senior customer of mine bought a white n red Avanti. Had the motor all hopped up with a truck aluminum flywheel and 5.0 Mustang 5 spd, brakes and wheels. Was his pride n joy till he died. Thankfully his son is now the custodian of it. Chuck Rood was a real renaissance man, a forward thinker, a pilot and an engineer. Just the kind of man Studebaker built the Avanti for.

    Getting all choked up just thinking about him

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    Hnstray and dana barlow like this.
  26. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,696

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    PBS vid,wow that's a negitve name{ a lot that BS going on now days vs being positve,I almost didn't look at it. Sorry I did.

    The story teller/writer was infact just what I expected,a negitve ass at every point he could,very sad some must be that way.
    Every Studebaker I've ever owned was a really great used car an lasted me longer then other brands. I'm 75 an had a lot of used cars{never have owned a new car} . I designed an built race cars,even drove a number of them for a biz, had a lot of fun along the way. Never have cared much for those that mess up something,then say it was no good.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
    Blues4U and Hnstray like this.
  27. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 984


    Ok Stude haters.. i know a guy with a new build 303 c.i. naturally aspirated motor in a Studebaker custom 2 seater that makes 480 on the there !
    dana barlow, Hnstray and partsdawg like this.
  28. 28dreyer
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,167

    from Minnesota

    Ah so...can you explain how he does that? Compression, fuel, etc.
  29. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,306

    from Quincy, IL

    Check out this much more positive history of Studebaker........(some minor errors in the narration)

  30. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 984


    Not sure, but the 4 bl intake is custom made with a runner 4 each cyl. Motor was built by Scott. A friend is building the car and thats all i know. If i get more info i'll post it.

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