The Ghosts Of The Studebaker Proving Grounds

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the November 22, 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Shortly thereafter, the city of South Bend, Indiana suffered another tragedy: the announcement of the closing of the American factories of the 111-year old Studebaker Automobile Company on December 9, 1963. Over 7,000 local workers engaged in building the company’s Avanti and Lark models would lose their jobs – it was not the most joyous of holiday seasons in South Bend.

We will leave the story of Studebaker’s demise to other sources, like this fine article over at Ate Up With Motor. I traveled to Indiana recently to cover the Studebaker National Museum but discovered that fellow South Bend native Jim Grey had just written an excellent series about the collection for our friends at Curbside Classic. Undeterred, I decided to follow the story of one fascinating car on display and discovered some nutty tales from the company’s old test track, the Studebaker Proving Grounds.

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The Curbside Classics Graveyard: May They Rust In Peace

Even in Eugene, where Curbside Classics miraculously soldier along on the streets for decades beyond their normal life expectancy, the forces of entropy cannot be forestalled forever. If it’s still running enough to get there, you could donate it to the official CC Sales Lot, and pass that slipping and leaking transmission on to the next sucker loving owner. But when the tow truck has to be called, Judgment Day has arrived. Will you pony up and put yourself that much deeper under water? Or will it end up at the Pick and Pull, donating its vital organs to keep its kin on the road a bit longer? But for the chosen few, there’s one other alternative: the Curbside Classic Graveyard, where it may rust (superficially) in peace until the second coming of Henry Ford (or his only begotten Son Edsel).

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  • FreedMike I like it - handy size, cool looks, standard AWD, plenty of power in the base model. And the PHEV application here makes more sense to me than it does in the Wrangler - it's a performance enhancer, versus a mileage-maker. I sincerely hope it sells - I think we're in danger of losing Dodge, and that's a brand I would be sad to see leave the market.And I also sincerely hope this is a harbinger of more performance CUVs to come.
  • Funky D "Some men are Baptists, others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man."— Ralphie Parker
  • Funky D EV performance is fantastic. Their range and battery replacement costs not so much. Killing off the V8-power models is a big mistake as they are still solid sellers.
  • Funky D Soooooooooo ...[list][*]Locally sourced parts are going to be more expensive than their Chinese counterparts (not a knock, just a fact)[/*][*]Prices of EVs are already up sharply[/*][*]So let's cut subsidies and make them even more expensive.[/*][/list]What a way to "reduce" inflation, which is just one of the major fails in this Charlie Foxtrot of a bill.
  • Kcflyer Guess we know who didn't give enough bribe money (aka campaign contributions) during the latest cycle. Got to pay to play boys and girls.