By on August 24, 2010

I’ve had a long held fantasy since 1971, when GM’s mega-barges appeared: to take a cutting torch to a Caddy, and make a clean slice across the front and rear, just ahead of and behind the wheels, resulting in something like this (sorry, I don’t Photoshop). The result would be hundreds of pounds lighter, easier parking, better performance, economy, handling and braking, but without any loss from that roomy interior. Turns out that Studebaker designer Duncan McRae beat me to it, by some thirteen years.

And unlike my Caddy, which was going to just have perfectly flat extruded steel slabs on each end, McRae blessed his torch job on the 1958 Studebaker Commander (see below) with remarkably clean and attractive new end caps. The result was the 1959 Studebaker Lark, a wide-body “compact”, and the only American car to have been birthed this way. It was a rare triumph of sanity and rationality in a time of giant finned monsters. And for a few years, it breathed a brief hope of life into its terminally ill parent, forestalling the inevitable end of America’s oldest and once largest vehicle manufacturer.

The fifties were Studebaker’s decade from hell. It started so promising, having beaten the Big Three with the first all new post-war cars in 1947. And in 1953 Studebaker pulled out all the stops again with the grand/insane idea to build its exquisitely styled new Starliner coupe using a completely different body from the also all-new sedans. Contrary to usual practice, the coupe’s wheelbase was longer than the sedans’, requiring a different frame. Pretty ambitious for an independent car maker. But that’s a story for another CC, as soon as I find me a nice  Starliner on the street.

The low and sleek coupes were the most radical car of its era, and suffered from numerous production maladies, pretty predictable given the challenges involved. The sedans were more modest, but just didn’t ignite much interest, especially after the first year. And the coupes’ maladies hurt their sales. Studebaker production took a disastrous dive from 1954 on. The coupes morphed into the Hawk and Gran Turismo, an interesting but low-production preview of the sixties’ personal coupes. But the bread and butter sedans languished. Slapping on a new grille and rear fins, and messing around with with the trim didn’t help. Studebaker was desperate, so out came the carving knife.

Did Studebaker know that the recession of 1958 would be a pivotal moment in the industry, heralding a shift to smaller and saner cars? No; it was luck, desperation, imitation, and trying to repeat history. American Motors was was doing pretty well with its smaller Ramblers. Chasing the Big Three was a dead end, might as well follow somebody else. And in 1939, Studebaker had created a truly remarkable smaller American car, the Champion. It was perhaps the closest thing to a successful American compact up to this time. Studebaker President Harold Churchill had a soft spot for the ’39 Champ, and decided it represented the way out of the current bind.

So stylist Duncan McRae walked into the studio and hacked off the hideous front and rear ends he had grafted onto the 1953 sedan body two years earlier. The result was a drastically shorter and cleaner car, but the passenger compartment was unchanged. A “compact” with the interior space of a standard size car; what a brilliant concept! The result was the exact polar opposite of the long and willowy Starliner coupes; Studebaker was going for the extremes. The new Lark shed several hundred pounds on the cutting room floor , allowing it to use the same little 170 CID flathead six that had powered the ’39 Champion. Another twenty-year cycle repeats itself.

The result is surprisingly cohesive, unlike the fussy donor sedans that sacrificed their extremities for the Lark. The clean front end is inspired by the Hawk, and the overall effect is rather European. Maybe that’s why so many European academic types drove these in Iowa City at the time. And Studebaker’s role as the sole importer of Mercedes at the time may have had some influence: the Lark is not that far off from the roomy but compact Mercedes sedans of the time in its basic configuration.

The freshly-minted Lark arrived in 1958 during the worst economic downturn in some time. Recessions (or high oil prices) always have a remarkably sobering influence on Americans’ love for the excessive and flashy. The Lark soared for a year or two, until the new compacts from Detroit in 1960 and 1961 clipped its wings. Studebaker’s struggles during its final years in the later sixties will have to wait for another CC too; meanwhile, we need to properly revel in the joys of their last brief and fleeting days in the sun. So many memories…

I knew the Lark was no real compact as a grade schooler, because about thirteen of us used to pile into the red one that the perpetually drunk Mom down the street drove to pick up her kids and anyone else in the neighborhood from school on rainy days. We’d spot it, and make a dash for it, as many of us piling in as was physically possible. The time I got squeezed up against her in the front seat was very memorable indeed; not exactly all in the best ways. There were at least four or five of us in the front; try that in a Falcon. That wide Lark bench seat saved me from a number of cold wet walks home.

The Lark was also unusual for a “compact” in that a V8 was available, the only one in its class. Of course, the V8 version sported as Lark VIII badge on the back, but for some reason, as a kid, I somehow got it through my head that the Roman numerals signified the series/model year, like in Mark VI. My European background was showing. Anyway, almost all of the Larks in Iowa City to my memory were sixes back then, chuffing along with their burden of the baby boom years. And that Studebaker 259 CID V8 was a mighty heavy anchor, weighing at least a hundred pounds more than a Chevy small block. But with a four barrel carb, it claimed 195 hp, and made the Lark a sprightly number.

The Lark has a decidedly feminine quality to it, and was commonly purchased as a second car for the little woman of the house to haul the kids and replenish her stock of booze. Another neighbor around the corner was an even more stereotypical owner: the German professor drove a MB 220SE, she a Lark Daytona coupe. What a handsome couple they (the cars) made in the driveway. I was only seven or eight, but I made all the relevant connections of that pair intuitively.

The little flathead six made all of 90 (gross) hp, and was showing its age. Unable to afford a modern new six, Studebaker at least grafted a new OHV head unto the sturdy little long-stroke block for 1961, and coaxed 112 hp out of it. They optimistically named it the Skybolt Six, and now called the Lark “the compact with Performability”. Studebaker wasn’t totally immune to the sins of Detroit. Another affectation was the revised chrome accent on its flanks; moving it up higher in 1961, above the crease left from the 1953 body dies, was thought to make the Lark look lower.

Let’s get to this particular Lark, which is readily available for anyone in Eugene to see, since it’s spent at least the last thirty-five years outside, having served as a daily driver for this family without a garage until quite recently. It was bought for a song by the owner in the mid-seventies, and his kids grew up in/with it, and learned to drive it, which rather made them the object of interest at South Eugene High. It has over 200k miles on it now, but thanks to the kind of attention that I don’t bestow my old truck, it looks mighty nice indeed, still.

Like the owner of any vintage daily driver, this Lark’s handler has become intimate with all its warts. But old Studebakers were pretty solidly made, except for those willowy Starliner coupes, that is. The beefy frame means that the drive shaft tunnel is almost non-existent, another handy feature on those rainy afternoon mosh pit rehearsals. And the simple but rugged interior materials have held up to the test of time and kids. The grandkids will be riding in it soon.

After the unprofitable giant South Bend plant was shuttered in 1963, Studebakers were built in the smaller Hamilton, Ontario factory, and imported until 1966. That’s kind of ironic, because I always imagine that if Canada had designed and built its own cars, it would have resulted in something like the Lark: a highly pragmatic car combining the best US and European influences. How un-American is that?

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62 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1961 Studebaker Lark VI...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    “Sooooooo, Wilbur, what made you buy that new Studebaker…”

    “Oh, Ed, it was just a Lark.”

    • 0 avatar
      Billy Rockfish

      Good comments, Educator Dan – remember Studebaker with Rex May on Mr. Ed. KUDOS to Paul N. as I’ve been a faithful reader now – glued to TTAC for the last few weeks since I’ve stumbled upon it and you are VERY knowledgable about cars indeed. BTW – I grew up in the S.F. Bay Area (San Rafael) and up until last year lived in Alameda where there’s beaucoups classic cruisers on the street all the time. To the Stude – I loved the Lark and would love to have one and the 259’s are the ones to stay with as the flathead Champion Six (correct, Paul) was antiquated by the late 50’s and the ‘band aid’ conversion to the “Skybolt Six” was just that – no gain in displacement and only got 10 horsepower but at the expense of many ’61 sixes being recalled due to valve seat/cracking problems.

      I think what Duncan McRae did with the Vince Gardner/Bob Bourke bodies was miraculous, considering that with the crash-program to create the Lark, I think Studebaker had about a $1.98 to invest in it. Fast forward to ’62 Brooks Stevens made it a pleasant update and the ’63 slim pillars did make it look contemporary. But by that time, the “Big Three’s Elephants” stomped all over the little Lark and then, fast forward to December, ’63 . . . and, well you know the rest of the story.

      Before I left Alameda last summer, there was a clean ’61 Lark Cruiser ‘crusing’ about . . Little joke – two ladies are sitting in a coffee shop around 1961 and they see their friend driving by in a new Studebaker compact. The one said to the other, “I understand – she did it – for a Lark!”

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Thanks, Amigo. I’ve head it said that men have to a propensity to fill their minds with useless minutiae. For some guys it’s baseball statistics, for me it’s little useless car trivia.

      “… Studebaker had about a $1.98 to invest in it.”

      You could put that on the cover of most books written about the American independents.

  • avatar
    ash78

    “..and then Duncan McRae (of the clan McRae) took his claymore and chopped a foot of the front and back, which would serve as a warning to others. There can be only one.”

    Beautiful car. It’s everything I like about classic US and European design, all in one place.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I love the color – very 50’s. Can’t be the original paint job?

  • avatar

    Great. Thanks to this charming love letter to the Lark, I now have an insensible desire for a slow, inexpensive, weird Studebaker.

    TTAC wins again!

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    I was just going to say that the colour doesn’t do it any favours.What would you call it – mushroom pink ?

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    …a wide-body “compact”, and the only American car to have been birthed this way.

    What about the AMC Gremlin? It came along later of course, but it started out as a Hornet with the back cut off.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      They cut off too much of the back, resulting in an unusable rear seat. And they left the way too long front on it:
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/curbside-classic-1971-small-cars-comparison-number-6-amc-gremlin/
      Not quite the same result.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      Well, they still made the Gremlin by taking the guillotine to a larger car. As you point out in your previous CC, they also cut it through the middle to shorten the wheelbase too, so I suppose it’s not quite the same.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    It looks like it’s melting.

  • avatar
    mikey

    OKAY…Who gets the braging rights here? The first guy to call it a Lark, or the first guy to pick the year?

    Just asking. I am willing to share.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Normally, it’s the first to get the car and year. The way the chrome trim rises up over the crease is unique to the ’61. But for you, mikey, we’ll share. Congratulations.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Thanks, if I’d thought about it for a while I would have backed it up a couple of years. In fairnes, I woudn’t have gone back as far as 61.

      Here in Canada they were fairly popular, but our climate kills all. So its been 40+ years since I saw my last Lark.

      I was about eight, circa 1961 and I remember mom and dad debating over a used 1960 Lark vs a used 1960 Pontiac Strato Chief. Mom,ever the frugal one wanted the Lark. My 12 year old brother said the Lark was a sissy car. I backed up my older brother b/c thats what 8 year old boys do.

      Dad bought the Pontiac.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    My great uncle Joe had a Lark VIII, a 1959 I think. 4 door, silver with a silver/white interior. It wasn’t driven much, as it was purchased in his dotage, and before his death it was only occasionally driven by his nephew, my father, which mostly involved Dad taking great uncle Joe to the doctor and such. After Joe died, the car was offered to my then teenaged older brother (this was in 1971), who a refused to take it and the car was subsequently sold off. I have no idea what became of it, (I was 8 years old at the time) but since it was so lightly used, it would have been a pretty decent deal.

    The local old car dealer here in GR had a similar (62) Lark VIII for sale recently, but it was a 48 year old car, and needs a lot of work. If I had the money & time, I would have liked to take a swing at it…

  • avatar
    geeber

    It’s great that the owners have kept it in such good shape over the years. Studebakers of this vintage had real problems with rust on the front fenders (just behind the wheels).

    The back end looks very European – much like an NSU, perhaps? Studebaker kept revising this body style right through the 1964 model year, to keep up with the Big Three and AMC. The 1963 and 1964 Studebakers are good-looking vehicles, although they didn’t stand much chance against a Ford Falcon, Chevy II, Plymouth Valiant or 1964 Rambler American. For 1963 Studebaker revised the greenhouse to incorporate slimmer, chrome upper-door frames, which gives the car a more modern look.

    Supposedly the “new” OHV six was somewhat troublesome. Revising the old Studebaker flathead six on the cheap was less than successful.

    Interestingly, American Motors kept its old flathead six in production through the 1965 model year as the standard engine in the Rambler American!

  • avatar
    geeber

    A great story on an interesting car. It’s great that the owners have kept it in such good shape for all of these years. Studebakers of this vintage are notorious for rust on the front fenders, just behind the wheels.

    The conversion of the old Studebaker six to an OHV format was less than successful. The new engine was apparently troubleprone. AMC offered its old flathead six as standard equipment in the Rambler American through the 1965 model year!

    Studebaker kept revising this body style right up until the 1964 model year. The 1963 Larks are rather attractive, as they feature slimmer, chrome window frames that make the car look much more modern. Unfortunately, not many people were willing to give this car a second look, especially compared to a Ford Falcon, Chevrolet Chevy II or Plymouth Valiant.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Another great histoire. Helped a friend do a body-off resto of a 59 Lark convert. It was originally a VI but he turned it into a VIII. I remember he used the old engine mounts, but switched back-to-front and side-to-side. Clever, that.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Very cute. If only “they” would build cars as practical now. I also find curious the filled space between the doors, that had to cost extra, or maybe not. That car seemed to be styled from the inside out – as cars should be – people first. I’m thinking rear seat head room. Pretty just the same, and in amazing shape.

    “…a wide-body “compact”, and the only American car to have been birthed this way.

    What about the AMC Gremlin? It came along later of course, but it started out as a Hornet with the back cut off.”

    I think you mean the Pacer. As square a footprint as you can get!

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      The Pacer was designed as the first “wide small car”, from essentially scratch and was to have used GM’s Wankle licensed rotary [an idea that never made it to production whereby AMC used it’s standard sixes].

      The Gremlin was created just as was said: by taking the Hornet and chopping off the rear end.

      The Pacer was not a chop of anything though some test “mules” were chopped Matadors.

  • avatar
    stickman

    I can respect the Lark. It isn’t for me but the Studebaker Hawk from the same era has some real panache. I saw a nice Golden Hawk around town a few months ago and think it strikes a good balance between the fin era and the muscle car era.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I spent a lot of time in one similar to this. One of my best friends had a Studebaker family. His mom had an off-white 60 Lark VIII 2 door sedan with red and black interior. Living in northern Indiana, the car had the usual Studebaker front fender rust that started near the windshield and went all the way down the trailing edge of the front fender. Otherwise, it was in nice shape. She drove it until 1972 when it was replaced with a new bright red Javelin AMX.
    My buddy’s dad was a performance fan, and one of my car-mentors. The Lark had a glasspack muffler, and I still remember the unusual exhaust note of the 259 V8. The car also sported wheelcovers taken from the family’s other car – a red 64 Avanti R2 – when the owner bought the mag wheels.
    The Lark was a bulletproof-reliable grocery-getter. I had forgotten about the nearly flat floors. I guess this is a side effect of the car’s 1953 roots. In fact, the entire car screamed early 50s – everything you touched was THICK. I also recall a cost-cutting move – the single flashing light on the dash that blinked with either turn signal.
    When the extended family got together, it was Studes everywhere – 64 Lark Daytona hardtop, 64 Commander sedan and a 62 Lark sedan.
    I love the color on this one too. I vote salmon. This color showed prominently in Chrysler’s lineup in 1961 as well.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Thanks, Paul! My Stude is a ’60 Lark VIII (plenty of pep!) four door, and just like the one you photographed, it has a cup holder hanging from the edge of the glove compartment door. A former owner had my car painted, but it is the same light green color the factory used. Don’t know the name the factory gave that color.

    Another rust trouble spot for Larks is the “eyebrow” over the headlamp.

    There’s a lot to like about the practicality of the Lark, not least the visibility provided for the driver and passengers. No squashed roof, and a big wrap-around rear window!

  • avatar
    red60r

    My family had 2 Stude’s in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s — a “which way is it going?” 1948 coupe and a torpedo-nosed 1951 convertible. Both were frugal with gas but generous with the blue smoke trails.

  • avatar
    the duke

    * selfishly hopes for hyperlink to his GT Hawk CC *

    Sadly, I don’t know of any DD Starliners, and with so many people looking to convert a later hawk to a 53-54 (a decent set of hood, fenders and grills will set you back a few thousand) they don’t tend to languish in front yards…you may be waiting a VERY long time for that CC. But this is a nice lark indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I knew I was forgetting something. Done. And there is a Hawk around; missed it one day at the park without my camera. Just in the kind of original shape I prefer too.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Paul, here’s a crazy idea, how bout a section in the CC portal just for “dead brands.” Studebaker, American Motors, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Saturn, Desoto, Packard, ect… Anytime you find a CC that’s a dead brand, it goes there. That way these “kids” know what us old farts (dang I’m only 33) are talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      the duke

      Glad to be of service – and it can only help your site hits anyway. :)

      Educator Dan – good idea. At 29 the only reason i know of all the Dead/oddball cars is I grew up in a home full of Studebakers and was “forced” to attend orphan car shows with my Dad. I’m also a certifiable car nut of epic proportions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain what a Stude is to my peers. And I’ve had kids guess the hawk is everything from a Ford to a Maserati. It pains me.

  • avatar
    obbop

    The old LaSalle ran great.

  • avatar
    Doc

    Can’t wait for a CC on the Starliner Coupe. One of my favorite cars.

  • avatar
    Kookie2

    For a time in the late ’60’s I had a ’62 Lark as a work car. Was known around the family as the Stupid-baker, or just the ‘Baker. It was a stripper OHV six with three-on-the-tree. It was roomy, but I remember it as having an anemic heater, and a serious tin-worm problem. It also had a bit of a problem at highway speeds deciding where straight-ahead was. I am not even a little nostalgic for it.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Regarding other efforts to sell shortened full size cars, Cadillac built short-deck sedans in 1961-63. For 1961-62 they were called Town Sedans and in ’63 the name was switched to Park Avenue. They were simply Sedan deVilles with 8 inches less rear overhang. Buyers shunned them. It probably didn’t help that they bore the same sticker price as similarly optioned DeVilles.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Supposedly created for elderly female owners who’s husbands were gone and didn’t have a driver. Theory was they would be easier to park. Legend has it that the same mentality, combined with Mercedes eating Cadillac’s lunch with smaller cars, led to the creation of the original Seville.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I have to say, as a father, the idea of putting kids in -any- vehicle of that age is horrifying. Want a neat old car? Great – drive it. But don’t risk the lives of your kids in a death trap because you want to be kitschy.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Tell ya what, Peri….you raise your kids. Don’t tell me how to raise mine…

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Parents drove trillions of miles with their kids in cars just like this, un-belted, un-airbagged, un-ABSed, un-ETCed, …. and OMG … we managed to survive it without help from the nannies.

      Please spare us the hand wringing and paranoia.

      I wondered how long it would be before one of our betters stood up and screamed “But what about the children ? ” The children will be just fine and much enlightened and enriched by the experience of riding in and learning to drive an old car.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Parents also raised kids without antibiotics, vaccines, access to emergency medical care, clean water, etc… What’s your point? And actually, a whole hell of a lot of kids didn’t survive their unbelted freedom. Obviously you guys did; the ones who didn’t aren’t around to post about how they wish things had turned out differently.

      Your attitudes are like someone saying, “Oh, we didn’t lock up our guns when I was a kid and we were all fine”. Great. Yeah, probably. But that doesn’t mean it’s the responsible or right thing to do to keep your loaded .45 on your night stand like your dad did.

      Except for one thing – it’s probably safer to leave a loaded .45 in your bedroom than to use a ’60s car as a daily driver.

      I don’t think it’s the government’s place to tell you what kind of car to drive, so don’t make assumptions about nannying. And I think it’s a great thing for a 16-year-old to learn to drive a car like that, and for kids to experience them. But as a daily driver? It’s absolutely bats**t insane.

      You guys go on with your bad selves, and haul your kids around in tin cans so you can pretend it’s the good old days. I’m not sure you’re going to be so confident in your choice when an Escalade-driving, cell-phone talking soccer mom runs a red light, flattens your Lark like a pancake, and flings your offspring into the gas station across the road.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I would point out that, directly as a result of passive safety devices, injury and fatality rates have been plunging for decades. Never mind that the “enriching experience” to some of us meant a bad ride, notional handling, emissions that would make you gag and, yes, the eminent possibility of being thrown through the window or impaled on the steering column.

      I’d agree with Peri, and for the same reason and because of the same circumstances: I wouldn’t drive my kids around in a car like this every day because the kind of accident you’d walk away from in a Honda Civic would see you and/or your family killed, injured and/or horrifically impaired for the rest of your life.

      He’s expressing an opinion. You can disagree with it, but pulling the “don’t you tell me how to….” isn’t individualism, it’s knee-jerk pigheaded obstinacy.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I wouldn’t drive around with my child in an old car on a regular basis. But there is nothing wrong with doing it occasionally.

      My Accord is seven years old and has 140,000 miles on the odometer, and it has never been hit by another vehicle. I don’t think that driving around in a vintage Studebaker on a regular basis will suddenly make every bad driver believe that a target has been painted on the side of my car.

      Having posted this, I’ll probably be broadsided by a latte-drinking, cellphone-using Escalade driver on the way home tonight…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Depends on what you define OLD as. The Lark, yup old, my dad’s 1967 Mustang, old. A car built in the late 1980s or newer? Sorry not old to me. I’m not gonna feel bad about hauling a kid around in one.

      When my dad had me ride in his ‘Stang, always seat-belts on and because of where we lived, empty rural roads.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      Except for one thing – it’s probably safer to leave a loaded .45 in your bedroom than to use a ’60s car as a daily driver.

      I find that comparison ridiculous.

  • avatar
    the duke

    I forgot an anecdotal story on how time does skew memories. A high school English teacher, on hearing I had a Studebaker, mentioned how the family had had a lark when he was a kid (technically the Lark name was dropped after 1963 and does not apply to 1964 and later Studes, despite the same essential bodies, but his could have been later).

    My english teacher was quick to point out “how tiny” that Lark was. I found this highly amusing given his daily driver: a 4th gen Honda Civic – a vehicle relatively dwarfed by the wide body Lark!

  • avatar
    8E45E

    That color is called ‘Flamingo’ and seeing one is rare. At first it was only available on Hawks and Lark convertibles, but starting on November 1st, 1960, all Lark models could be ordered in P6114 Flamingo. One correction is the displacement of the 1939 Champion engines. They were 164.3 cubic inches, and were stroked out to 169.6 starting in 1941. The horsepower rating increased from 78hp to 80hp. In 1955, the displacement was increased to 185.6 cubic inches, and decreased back to 169.6 cubic inches again for 1959.

  • avatar
    Driver7

    In the ’60s and early ’70s, my father owned a two-door Lark – a ’61 I recall.
    It provided useful service as a commuter car, and a backup to our 1966 Chrysler Imperial.
    The engine noise it made climbing hills brought to mind a C-47 Dakota at full throttle.
    Your featured car’s interior looks mighty comfy compared to the Lark I sat in – its seats were unkind to people in shorts.
    Thanks for this reminder of an automotive past.

  • avatar
    Wonder Bar

    This is one of my favorite sites on the net so I had to register today, finally. Thanks for all the good articles, especially this one, much fun. But I always thought Olds was the first car? Oldest american car. Is it realy Studebaker?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I said “oldest vehicle maker”. Studebaker was the largest maker of wagons in the 19th Century.  :)
      And welcome to TTAC!
       

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I always use Studebaker as an example with my students of how businesses have to adapt to survive. (The only problem is I have to let them in on what the heck a Studebaker is. I’m starting to have to do that with Oldsmobile… Sigh….)

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      To: Educator(of teachers)Dan:

      You’re correct. As nice as that car is in the photo, it was horribly outdated by 1961. Compared to any Chevy, Ford and Chrysler. Although Chrysler actually used perforated Masonite for their headliners on the 1st gen Valiants and Lancers!

      To an earlier post,8E45E, that color was similar to a 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer 2 dr. Hardtop my dad once owned. It was a three-toned job – White top, black middle and a color I remember as “Desert Rose”/”Autumn Rose” or something. Pink by any other name. Cool car back then when he owned it in the early 60’s. When he bought a 1960 Chevy Impala 4 dr. hardtop in 1965, why, a whole new world opened up to me when I was 14!

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    My parents were a Studebaker family, too. My dad worked for the Dept of Ag in the 1960’s and was provided a ’62 Lark 2 door wagon (only built for gov’t use using ’61 rear bodies, ’62 front clips) and a 259-V8, 3 on the tree, heater and nothing else at all. He was ordered to give it to another Veteranarian and when he turned it over to him, he said “she’ll do 65 in 2nd…” and a month later he saw the same Vet who commented “won’t do 65 in 2nd – it’ll do 75!” My dad was so impressed he ended up getting a used ’57 Champion six for my mom ($165) which was then 6 years old (and held together solely by blue house-paint, I think), then a year or so later, we “stepped up” to a ’60 Lark six in much better shape. (Not forgetting that almost none of the people in my neighborhood had 2nd cars – women stayed home – but my mom had had use of our family car until dad left the government and so he had to use the family car for business). My sister’s 1st car was a ’62 Stude Lark six (OHV) with 3 on the tree.

    When we moved several hundred miles as a family in the winter of ’69, my mom drove the Lark with a heavy wood boat (loaded to the gills with furniture and “stuff”) behind my dad, who drove the U-haul truck. Needless to say, 90 horsepower pulling an extra 3000 to 4000 pounds made for a fairly slow progress up any slight hills, but in reality you’d be surprised how well that little flathead six did – except for those hills!

    I remember bugging my dad to get a new ’64 Studebaker but he knew the handwriting was on the wall (and that it was a better proposition to buy a Studebaker USED not new), so he got a ’64 Rambler Classic V8 automatic new, instead. (The same dealer sold Studes, Ramblers and Kaiser Jeep in our little town, having started out as a Kaiser car dealer in 1946).

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Did this car pre-date Pepto-Bismol and Bazooka gum or was the Stude Art & Color Studio inspired by them?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Robert, you obviously didn’t live through the fifties. It was the technicolor decade for cars. I wish there were one place where you could see fifties cars in every color combination ever used. The three color combos were especially creative, if a bit garish: try to envision a car painted black, yellow and aqua. And when was the last time you’ve seen a car upholstered in plaid? Your tongue-in-cheek comment is testimony to the many-shades-of-gray drabness of the last decade.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    @ perisoft…….while it’s true that automakers have come a long way in the form of safety features and design, driving a newer car does not guarantee that you will walk away from a crash.
    Our pastor’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago while on her way to work by a drunk driver in her 1 year old accord. The guy was driving a 78 (I think) town car.
    The drunk survived with hardly a scratch, the woman was killed almost instantly despite the fact that both airbags deployed.
    She was hit head-on, and the witnesses said that her car looked like it exploded.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Moparman,

    True, even a purely modern new car will not always save a driver if the accident is bad enough, but remember, there are other factors that are at play here, was the driver sitting much too close to the steering wheel (for airbag deployment), was she wearing a seat belt, and if so, was it properly worn (ie, was it tucked under her arm instead of over the shoulder), those kinds of things along with the ratings of how occupants fair during testing to see how the car protects (or not) all play a factor here and plus, the 78 full sized car that hit her didn’t have crumple zones and thus the whole front end didn’t give so the Accord had to absorb it all and did the cabin deflect and collapse? If so, that can severely impact how a car protects the occupant for the worst – even if equipped with airbags.

    Now I don’t know how the Accord did in the crash tests of the time but I’d suspect they were very good for the day.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Ciddy, you are correct. There are many factors involved when a crash occurs that have an effect on the outcome. That’s why one can’t just assume that a driver from a newer car will walk away and and the driver of an older car won’t.
    There are some old tanks that I would rather be driving if involved in an accident than some newer cars. An airbag may help a lot, but it can only do so much. I doubt that it would be very effective in something like a smart car against something like the old lincoln mentioned in my post.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Indeed, and what Peri and some of the others are saying has a ring of truth to it, making it a blanket statement can backfire and sound disingenuous when an older large car encounters a much newer car, the results may or may not follow that perceived logic, thus the statement then becomes false.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    A Buddy of mine had a 66 final edition, IIRC it had either a 283 or a 327 SBC engine. The Studibagel Gran Turismo was a bee-yootiful car.

  • avatar

    very nice tribute to a beautiful car. My own view is that this is a mild version of one of my all-time favorites, the original (1960) Valiant, the ultimate deco car.

  • avatar

    My grandfather was the president of the White truck div. of Studebaker for a while in the 50s. So, they always had them, and got a deal on one for my Mom and Dad when they got married in 1951.
    My grandmother had a gold Lark as her around town car, but they also had a Golden Hawk. Awesome.
    One of my uncles, Micheal Cleary, built an Indy car in the family garage using a Studebaker motor. I know it raced at Indy in the mid-late 50s (maybe ’58?) I remember riding up Sheridan Road in Kenilworth, IL in just the chassis of that car – he hadn’t finished the hand-built fiberglass body shell. I was probably about 6 or 7 at the time.
    Micheal is now well-known for his collection of restored Bugatti racers and restored 1932 Studebaker racer.


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