Studebaker's, what awesome cars. I have a family full of them, and I am just now getting started on working on grandpa's old car. A 62 hawk, needs body work and what not. I can't wait to see it on the road, it's a head turner. It's a beautiful sleek car, I just don't see how Ford and Chevy made it really. Studes were ahead of the time.
I disagree with the previous comment about the Larks, when Detroit was building monsters in 1959, the Lark was a compact, economical & reliable car with an amazing design aesthetic, very mid-century modern. They sold really well in '59 and '60, but when the big three started making smaller cars that changed things, plus the later Larks started looking like Chevys... but the original design by Duncan McRae & Bob Doehler was stunning.
I agree with you. Studebaker built fine automobiles. Perhaps the strongest automakers survived back in that era, but that doesn't mean the makes that went under were inferior in anything but profitability. A lot of very fine makes went under, Studebaker was ahead of its time and was in fact one of the best.
I live in New England, and you still see some very fine examples on the road up here.
I had the pleasure of owning a 1960 Studebaker Lark when I was in high school and college. It was a very solid and reliable car with the flathead 6 and a three-speed manual transmission. The fuel mileage, for those days, was incredibly good. It is too bad such great automakers as Studebaker did not survive. In many ways I think they were simply too far ahead of their time.
I have been into Studebakers for 30 years. They went out of business for the very reasons Pontiac, Hummer, Opel, etc are leaving today: not enough people wanted them. For every person that thought Studebakers were great cars, there are 10 that would say they were junk... you decide. There's a picture on the cover of the Studebaker Driver's Club monthly magazine (Turning Wheels) a few years back. Shows a South Bend police car. Behind it is a parking lot with 50-75 cars, all very identifiable. There is only 1 Studebaker in the parking lot. This one car in the very town of South Bend where the cars were manufactured... suggest anything to you...?
Studebaker built fine automobiles, just as American Motors did. The problems that these companies faced included not having enough operating capital to spend on developing new models. Back in the day, it was difficult for small companies to compete with the giants like General Motors and Ford.
Studebaker's were good solid cars. I learned about cars working on a neighbor's prewar model President from a barn find to a restored beauty. I think the public around the time of Studebaker's demise was greatly influenced by TV and marketing in general, and the big three were really good at showing off the latest models. A car can be a lot more than just a transportation vehicle.