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Art & Inspiration Why Studebaker failed

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by BeatnikPirate, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. BeatnikPirate
    Joined: May 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,416

    BeatnikPirate
    Member
    from Media, Pa.

    These photos lead me to speculate that Studebaker's Market Research may have miss-judged the car-buying public's desire for bigger cars. tumblr_mj65h9pGyL1rphtnfo1_500.jpg 201131-1000-0 (1).jpg Big-Studebaker-courtesy-modernmechanix.com_.jpg
     
    kiwijeff and lothiandon1940 like this.
  2. .......and I thought Photoshop came along a "little" later.;)
     
  3. Fee Fye Fo Fum.......
     

  4. rztrike
    Joined: Apr 20, 2009
    Posts: 149

    rztrike
    Member

    I can't help but wonder what happened to it
     
  5. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,836

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    I remember seeing a picture of it being burnt,I think it was made mostly of wood.
     
  6. .....yeah, was it hot rodded, or restored ? lol
     
  7. kbgreen
    Joined: Jan 12, 2014
    Posts: 340

    kbgreen
    Member

    Studebaker management made the smart transition from horse-drawn wagons to the motorcar, but failed nearly 60 years later during a good run of years in the early 60's. It would be an interesting business lesson to see what caused their downfall.
     
  8. V8 Bob
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 2,743

    V8 Bob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    loudbang likes this.
  9. funk 49
    Joined: Nov 14, 2010
    Posts: 242

    funk 49
    Member

    The car was used in a movie Wild Flowers ,I believe the name was,and the car was supposedly destroyed
    some time afterward.
     
  10. henry29
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 2,835

    henry29
    Member

  11. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,899

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, Willys, Kaiser, Packard.....collectively known as the "Independents",
    all faltered in the '50s after the post WWII sellers market was satisfied and the public became more discerning in their purchases. The Independents lost sales volume, and with that profits, and with that, the ability to retool to remain competitive. Mergers helped some and delayed the inevitable for others.

    I have owned a Studebaker "Lowey Coupe" variant (1 at time, 4 total) since the early '60s and that is because a high school buddy had a '54 Commander Coupe that I just loved. I have also been a long time member of the Studebakers Drivers Club. I tell you those facts in order to suggest I am qualified to say what some would consider blasphemy, were I not experienced with these cars and their history.

    The Studebaker drivetrains were pretty good stuff...the Stude engines being an in house design and the rest of the driveline was Borg-Warner and Spicer....all proven and widely used industry supplier items.

    The body construction quality, on the other hand, was second rate to the Big 3, and especially to GM and Briggs bodied Mopars of the early '50s. As time passed, and the volume/profit faded, it became increasingly difficult to prevent their decline into underdog status. The ingenuity of their body designers and engineers in the latter days is to be commended, but it really didn't disguise the 'bolt on' fins and dual headlights and all the rest of their late '50s desperation. The '59 Lark, a really clever adaption of the existing primary tooling, gave a boost for awhile. The last of those, the '64/'65 are, I think, pretty damn handsome cars, especially in the Daytona 2 door versions.

    I am still a Studebaker fan, I just don't delude myself about their true nature. There is plenty to like and be proud of, but they certainly aren't flawless. Sort of like people, pets, etc....we love 'em anyway.

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
    lothiandon1940 and FAUST like this.
  12. V8 Bob
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 2,743

    V8 Bob
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    Actually, their best years were the early '50s, with a peak of over 320,000 vehicles in '50, but then went steadily down hill. Production fell to about 128,000 in '60, dropping to just below 60,000 in '61 and ended in '64 with less than 37,000 split between South Bend IN (ending in December '63), and Ontario.
    Studebaker built some very fine (expensive) cars in the '20s and '30s, but demand for more affordable cars during the depression, and then after the war, drove most higher end independent companies to compete in the lower priced fields of Ford, GM and Chrysler. Antiquated and/or low production factories along with high pay forced all of independents to merge, with only Nash/American Motors surviving. (up to 1980)
    Studebaker had some great designs, like the'50 bullet nose, '53 coupe and later Hawks, '59 Lark, and of course the Avanti, but quality issues were, IMO, it's major downfall. Rust prone bodies, weak frames, outdated drive trains, body panel fit/finish were common complaints. When you couple those with very low production, very high union wages and old outdated buildings, the result is sad but predictable. It's very difficult to compete with companies that can out produce your product 10, 15 or more times over, and sell for hundreds less.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  13. stainless steel exhaust manifold bolts.....who would spend that kind of money......Stude did.....

    rust in those quarter panels - they need swapping -just unbolt it.........

    and you ever look at a Stude frame.....pretty dam sturdy.....agree with most else....

    and you know about HP and STP.....?......oh honey please....
     
  14. Stupid bakers are cool cars.
    I'd love to own a Stude truck.
    Had never seen the giant version, very cool.
     
  15. 270dodge
    Joined: Feb 11, 2012
    Posts: 742

    270dodge
    Member
    from Ohio

    Yes, there was a term about "runs like a Studebaker" way back when. It was about the sound of wooden spoked wheels that gave a click- click sound when passing by. These wheels were made by Studebaker and were recognized for their accuracy.
     
  16. nrgwizard
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,284

    nrgwizard
    Member
    from Minn. uSA

    The following isn't a marque worship, nor rosy glasses deal, but just some comments. Stude *is* one of my favorites, but I sure wish I could go back in history & change a lot of things. Still, it's worth noting some things.
    Studebaker bodies weren't any worse than any other makes, but they didn't have the needed splash guards in place to slow down rot. The frames weren't weak, just flexible - by design. The body was supposed to add the extra amount of strength & ridigity. & did, until it started to rust. Which usually started as a result of the window rubbers leaking, so then the floors & supports rusted, then rotted. They may have kept the flattie 6 a bit too long, but it was never meant to be anything but a mildly peppy econo motor. Economy for the car owner, not the engine builder/mfgr. Plus, Stude had always built to a higher level of abuse-taking-ability, & didn't really want to cheapen out more than they did. One could speculate that there just wasn't the need for the heavy-duty stuff anymore, due to better roads, both hiway & in town. Engineering & hi-perf was very alive at Stude, but a lot of the powers that be - & not all of them at Stude - were not happy to see it come out. More than a couple of books have been written on this subject, but I don't think nearly all the true info has ever come out. Stude mgmt was capable of some world-class F-U's, as was the union. Both contributed to the eventual demise. In the end, all of the issues of the 50's - Korean 'war', a recession, car pricing (race-to-the-bottom) twixt ford/gm, Stude deciding to enter the 'economy' market (even though they had to)(which no upscale mfgr that went downscale ever survived) didn't really matter. Depending on who/whom you listen to, even w/Studes' diversification, Stude was worth more, (many multiples) broken up, as compared to a whole. & the bankers got what they wanted.
    Marcus...
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  17. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547

    stimpy

    I went to brake school at the old proving grounds when Bendix operated it back in the 1980's , 1/2 of the property is a county park now the other half is still used as a brake R&D center for heavy trucks , would have been cool to see that old car , what was real neat to see was the woods next to the proving ground were actually planted to say studebaker when you flew over it , but a bad wind storm in the 1990's wiped most of it out . if your ever near South Bend its on state road 2 west of the city about 10 miles , and you used to be able to drive your car thru the park side of the proving grounds .
     
  18. BeatnikPirate
    Joined: May 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,416

    BeatnikPirate
    Member
    from Media, Pa.

    Studebaker-starliner-conv1.jpg It's too bad Studebaker never brought this cool-ass convertible to market. They built one prototype that still exists, I'm told.
     
  19. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,899

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    About fifteen years ago I was in California and chasing down a lead on a Huppmobile Skylark and met a collector who claimed to have this car.

    Based on the 50 or so rarer and unusual cars I saw with my own eyes, I believed him. At the time the Stude convertible prototype was undergoing some restoration procees, paint, if I recall, in another location. I Remember specifically quizzing him about it's origins as there have been several convertible conversions of these over the years. From that conversation, I accepted he had what he claimed it to be.

    So, if he was correct about the origin of his Studebaker ragtop, it existed in Los Angeles in 1999.

    Ray
     
  20. V8 Bob
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 2,743

    V8 Bob
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    I was probably also involved in that brake school :) ('71-'06) which were common back in the '70s/'80s.
    Just some minor corrections: About 1/4 (195 if I remember correctly) of the original 870 acres was donated to the county park department when Bendix bought the proving grounds in '66, and is Bendix Woods County Park.
    The proving grounds is currently owned by Bosch (since '96) and is still a full service vehicle test facility.
    Storms over the years have damaged some of the trees, but the biggest problem is they have become overgrown. There are now efforts under way to clean up and restore the historic "largest living" sign to it's former glory. See the link below.

    http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/...aker-tree-sign-at-Bendix-Woods-217667101.html

    Here is my only Studebaker, one of the last wagons they built.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
  21. BeatnikPirate
    Joined: May 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,416

    BeatnikPirate
    Member
    from Media, Pa.

    And they continued to make cool wagons.... 54studebakerwag1.jpg 1947_Studebaker_Champion_woody.jpg 1956-Studebaker-Pinehurst-Station-Wagon.jpg 1959-1964-studebaker-lark-29.jpg.jpg
     
  22. I don't think Studebakers products were to blame for their decline. There were a lot of very poor management decisions over the years, then the post war price wars between GM and Ford destroyed any market the independents had. No different than Walmart killing of all the independent locally owned stores now days.
     
  23. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,899

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    V8 Bob..............definitely the oldest Studebaker 'woody" I have ever seen! :D

    Congratulations on preserving it.

    Ray
     
  24. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,899

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Beatnik Pirate........I love those '54 Conestoga wagons !!! The older, maroon woody was a prototype as I recall. Neat looking car for the era. Thanks for posting.

    Ray
     
  25. V8 Bob
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 2,743

    V8 Bob
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    Thanks Ray. The elements have taken their toll over time, but hopefully it will stay intact for many years.

    That '47 woody prototype was partially made of fiberglass if I remember correctly. It was a one-off, used for a few years by Studebaker management, then laid to rest with many other prototype bodies in the "graveyard" at the proving grounds. I remember working with the Drivers Club when they rescued it back around '80.
     
  26. Studebaker was effectively killed during the depression. Russell Erskine, Stude's president, refused to believe the depression was real, that it was a minor dip in the economy. Stude paid out millions of dollar in dividends to the stockholders. The money came from cash reserves, not profits. In '33 they went bankrupt. They never recovered from the loss. Erskine shot himself
     
  27. I used a roof section of the first wagon pictured to fill in the open section on my '30 A sedan. I flipped it around so the back section was on the front of the "A". It fit perfect!!..the wagon was complete including trim in an old bone yard..I probably shoulda grabbed the wagon complete as it was..
     
  28. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,899

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    AACCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!! :eek:

    Ray
     
  29. Yep, we all do things we regret sometimes.. it was a '53 conestoga 2 door wagon, two tone, red lower body, white upper body..sad thing is, it was all there and pretty solid body to boot.
     

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