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Postwar Studebakers

18889919394120

Comments

  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    edited January 2013
    In late '80 or early '81, with my first 'real' job, I had to travel to Kalamazoo to surprise-audit some of our stores. Back then, in that town, you saw Checkers with vinyl tops, whitewalls and wire wheelcovers driving around.

    Sadly, I've never ridden in one. I'd like to fix that someday.

    Speaking of Checker, I recall reading an article about Nate Altman, the Studebaker dealer who revived Avanti in South Bend. Before he decided to get financing himself, he approached the President of Checker, Morris Markin, about Checker building the Avanti on their line. Markin said, "How can you expect us to build a car as ugly as the Avanti?".

    Altman was incensed...in the article he said, "Can you believe that? They build the Checker Marathon!".

    And the rest is history, for both companies.
  • jljacjljac Posts: 649
    edited January 2013
    I remember riding in Checker cabs when I was a little kid visiting my grandmother in Chicago. (She was the only one in the family who would call a cab because she was the only adult who did not drive.) They had small fold able "jump" seats on the floor as seen below. I liked riding in my own seat. That would probably be illegal today as so many things are.
    image
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    Cool; I've always heard they had jump seats but I've never seen one.

    I remember a bit of an oddball guy in our town having a big-bumper, russet-colored Checker Marathon. I spoke to him at Lloyd Lee's Arco station about it, and he said he picked it up at the factory in Kalamazoo. I saw him driving it around town a few times more, then maybe five years later saw it on the "make me an offer" used-car lot of the Pontiac dealer. I don't know what happened to it afterwards.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    I wonder how much more than that it cost to restore.

    In re-reading the description, it was about a ten-year-old restoration, although was freshened up, so to speak, to 'present well' for the auction, whatever precisely that means.

    I just love that particular car.

    I wouldn't say you couldn't give me a Mustang or Camaro, but you could...upon which I'd promptly sell it and buy something a little more unique. ;)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    I have nothing against Mustangs or Camaros either, but I too prefer something uncommon. I don't like pulling up beside myself at a light or a show.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    You've probably experienced this too, but I loved at a local cruise-in a couple years ago, two guys just kept coming back and back to my white sunroof Lark Daytona. Just kept saying, "I've never seen one". That's neat. Generalizing is bad, I know, but I've met more than one '57 Chevy or GTO owner who've either said, or stopped just short of saying, "why would you want one of those?". Dolts!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    At the local MBCA show last year, an old lady was really taken by my car, probably because of the color and its relative oddity. I usually get old timers talking to me about it, those who remember the cars from back in the day, and haven't seen one in a long time. I've been the only fintail at every local annual MB show I've attended.

    I've had curious questions about my car, most of those in normal cars haven't seen something like mine, I think the fins catch their eye. They are usually shocked about the fuel injection.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    I didn't know fintails were fuel-injected, that is indeed neat.

    What exactly is the official model number of a fintail? I'll have to ask my old dealer friend if he sold any at his place.

    He said they'd get Benz owners from 15 or 25 miles away as they had a good reputation for Benz service--their head mechanic went to South Bend to take Benz classes and was an excellent mechanic (I still see this guy once or twice a year, too--the mechanic). It was a small little dealer in a small, non-suburb town, but the family owned the place for forty-two years--'26 to '68.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    I guess it is on topic, as Stude dealers also sold fintails for a few years :shades:

    Most fintails don't have FI, but those with an "SE" badge do, those being the higher models. Fintails are on platforms W110 (190/190D/200/200D/230), W111 (220, 220S, 220SE, 230S), and W112 (300SE). W110 cars are the ones with 2 big round headlights, W111-112 cars will have quad lights or flush Euro units, W112 cars were top of the line models with air suspension. The W111 cars were introduced in 1959, with W110 and W112 cars in 1961. In 1965, the W112 was phased out, the 190 became the 200, 220 series carb cars became 230 cars, and the higher models were moved to the new W108 platform. The coupes starting in 1961 are also W111/112 cars and are considered part of the fintail family - even though they have only little bumps for fins, MB realizing by 1961 that the fin fad had passed. But they kept them on sedans until the very end. Highline fintail sedan production ended in the summer of 1965, lowline cars were made until January 1968, coupes until 1971.

    I suspect these cars sold more in small towns than MB does today - as the target market was different. These were mostly not luxurious or flashy cars, tending to attract engineers, doctors, professors, tech buffs, etc - and they weren't terribly expensive.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    edited January 2013
    Thanks for the details; I think best thing is to send him a pic! ;) I'll find one online.

    He kids me that I know more about Studes than he does, yet he'll correct me on something once in a while and he's right!

    He told me once he and his wife brought 'an expensive' (?) M-B back for a customer, from the docks at NYC and it had a column-mounted 4-speed automatic that ended up being troublesome. He also told me he either drove or rode in a gullwing at a dealer show at Seven Springs, PA, and his Dad had a 180 (black with red interior) that he very much enjoyed. I have a pic of it here.

    When I was at the archives of the Studebaker National Museum a couple years back, they had very detailed records of retail sale information from Sept. '63 'til the end. I was surprised to see two or three cards showing M-B's traded on new Studes at his dealership in that time period. Back then, I think folks bought the dealership as much as the car.

    My friend told me eventually M-B pulled their franchise for low volume, which is understandable in a town that size that had every single other domestic franchise.

    I do remember a 190 convertible driven by our high school nurse who was an older lady but quite a character. He did sell her and her husband that car and serviced it. It was a grayish-blue, not unlike your fintail now that I think about it.

    Sorry for the lack of detail in my descriptions of the cars...years passing and relaying info others told me might not make them very accurate! ;)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    I wonder how many old Stude fans have some MB knowledge simply via the old partnership.

    An expensive MB with a troublesome automatic would probably be an "Adenauer" car, the large 300 series sedan with kind of baroque/prewar styling, that was made through 1963 but sold in any numbers mostly through 1960 or so. Before MB had its own automatic, it used Borg-Warner units, and I think these weren't the best. I think in 1962, MB introduced their first in-house automatic, the weird fluid coupling unit that my car has. It is not the smoothest and it has weird shift points, but it is very durable - I can't say I have seen a dead one.

    There was also a clutchless automatic called a "Hydrak" (hydraulic clutch). These were troublesome, but mostly via user error - you had to lift off while shifting, and not doing so would eventually break the system. Hydrak survivor cars are quite rare today.

    I can see period MBs not lasting well in rust belt kind of areas - the cars were poorly rustproofed, and probably would have dissolved on upper midwest/new england roads if not really maintained well (the Germans just sand everything rather than use a lot of salt). Probably some trade ins when the first bubbles appeared.

    190SLs are a funny thing - all show and no go. The 4cyl engine is not fast nor smooth, but they are pretty, and for some, a budget 300SL. In the past decade, prices have gone through the roof, the best of the best easily going into 6 figure territory now.

    Some pics -

    Here's an first series Adenauer:

    image

    And a second series (1957+) car, a hardtop that was somewhat striking with the windows down:

    image

    There was also a cabrio/phaeton style model:

    image

    Very much a prewar style car with its functional landau bars:

    image

    And here's a 180 like that guy's dad had:

    image
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    Re-reading my old post, I meant "clutchless manual", of course :shades:

    On the tire topic, I found a pic of this obviously restored beautiful later (63-65) fintail with correct tires. These are what my car will get. The "automatic" badge is funny - I think it might have been an extra cost option (everything is/was on a MB), as I have seen many automatic cars without it, including my own. Maybe something for Europe of the period, where an automatic was something of a status symbol:

    image
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    Thanks for the pics. The pic I have of my dealer friend's Dad's 180 had wide whites and I think a full wheelcover but I'm out-of-town with work this week so don't have it near me.

    I remember seeing at swap meets a New York Times insert from '58 that had all the Studebaker, Packard, and M-B cars in it. Here's one that was on eBay and an "Adenauer" is on the front page:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1958-Packard-Mercedes-Benz-Studebaker-NY-Times-Insert-/1- 60896874917?nma=true&si=wnVJRBL%252F9u9PQuHIkrSQQhSO8ts%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=n- c&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    edited January 2013
    A 180 would have came standard with just hubcaps and blackwalls, but the dealer could have upgraded the appearance. The "S" models had the full wheelcovers (actually a 2 piece ring and hubcap until the late 60s).

    That's a cool ad, funny to think a lower line Stude and something worth a healthy 6 figures today like a 300SL would have been sold at the same place. I suspect the Adenauer sold to people who liked the baroque-ness of a Rolls, but not the price tag.
  • jljacjljac Posts: 649
    edited January 2013
    Before MB had its own automatic, it used Borg-Warner units, and I think these weren't the best. I think in 1962, MB introduced their first in-house automatic, the weird fluid coupling unit that my car has.

    Studebaker dealers would not have had any problem servicing the "Borg Warner" automatic transmission because it was the same transmission sold as "Studebaker Automatic Drive" between 1950 and 1956 when Studebaker switched to the Ford automatic transmission and Borg Warner set up production of the same transmission in England where it was also used in Jaguars. Servicing the MB fuel injection system was a bigger problem because that was completely new to the dealers and quite complex to service.

    Just think, in 1958 if you wanted to buy a car with painted wheel covers you could go to the Studebaker-Packard-Mercedes Benz dealer where you could buy a Mercedes Benz or a Studebaker Scotsman. I am not knocking the MB painted wheel covers, I think they look good.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    I wonder if MB chose B-W for the automatic because of the Studebaker link? Were the Stude wheel covers body color?

    I have to imagine a mechanic seeing a FI engine for the first time would be taken aback by it a bit - the mechanical FI systems have a lot of plumbing, and the direct injection (300SL, first production car with it) must have seemed like something from the future.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,272
    I wonder if MB chose B-W for the automatic because of the Studebaker link?

    A lot of european cars (Japanese too, I think) used the Borg-Warner automatic for us lazy shiftless (pun intended) Americans, as well as similarly shiftless domestic buyers. I think that Volvo used them at least into the mid-70s and probably even later.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,358
    edited January 2013
    A Studebaker of that era that has brought large cash in the past few years at the auctions (proving to me that it's not an anomaly) is the Golden Hawk. One brought over $100K a year or two ago at auction, and there have been at least a couple that have crept towards six-figures. I really don't even like them, other than they are so very different than anything else built in the 'States then.

    Until these Golden Hawk auction figures, Packard Hawks (love 'em or hate 'em) usually brought the most money, condition-for-condition, of all the Hawks. I'd prefer a '64 Gran Turismo Hawk with blower and 4-speed myself..but it has to have all the gauges, factory FM, and the half-vinyl top too. ;)

    BTW, the photo I have of my dealer friend's Dad's 180 has whitewalls like the pics of the fintails you've shown...wide, but not 'gansta' wide, and touching the wheel.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    edited January 2013
    I suppose that's good money for something so odd. I could see it in a Packard Hawk, just for the oddity and rarity. Style wise, I would agree with your later GT car. Those late cars were kind of European in a way. Nowadays, the 300SL roadster in that ad can hit 500K+++, and gullwings getting into 7 figures.

    I don't know if MB ever officially used the super wide wheel-to-ground whitewalls of the late 40s-early 50s. Seeing these pics has me itching to get new tires for my car - gotta do it this year.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    Were they troublesome in other applications?
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