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Postwar Studebakers

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Last thing about my hometown dealer, attached. Found this 2019 brief article in the local paper there, about the Water Co. buying the property...for $35K.

    https://www.recordargusnews.com/front-page/water-authority-buys-lot-for-future-plant/article_b9dcf562-85c1-5866-a679-25cecf20fae1.html
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  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130
    edited February 11
    I can only relate to property prices that low when I read newspapers from 1975 B)

    A friend of mine in another group combs street view images for unusual cars, he spotted this:


  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130
    This showed up in a fintail group, poster is from India - notice RHD:


  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    I like that! And I can't nitpick a single thing from that picture!

    1955. When the two-door wagon was introduced for '54 it was called a 'Conestoga', but I can't recall if they still called it that the next year or not.

    I'd take it!

    Not a sales advantage in the fifties, but I like how Studes were trimmer than most everything else at the time.
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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,146
    fintail said:

    I can only relate to property prices that low when I read newspapers from 1975 B)

    A friend of mine in another group combs street view images for unusual cars, he spotted this:


    It even has factory air.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    How can you tell it's factory air?
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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,146
    edited February 11

    It has the side scoops that catch air and direct it inside the car. Great cooling effect even without freon, as long g as the car is moving on hot humid days. They were from the factory and they scooped cool feeling air.

    Dad and mom joked about those on the 50 Studebaker we had.

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  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,700
    Factory "fresh air", that is.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130

    I like that! And I can't nitpick a single thing from that picture!

    1955. When the two-door wagon was introduced for '54 it was called a 'Conestoga', but I can't recall if they still called it that the next year or not.

    I'd take it!

    Not a sales advantage in the fifties, but I like how Studes were trimmer than most everything else at the time.

    I think being trimmer did appeal to some, just not enough to make a huge difference vs the big 3, although it did influence the Falcon and Corvair, and later intermediate models. That idea also was behind the Lark of course - I think some of that same group also wanted more of a European "flavor" car which led to Larks with big sunroofs and the fancier cloth interior and even a few MB-reminiscent styling cues - some Studebaker executive types listened.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 11
    Oh, now I get what you meant!

    The Hawks kept that direct ventilation the whole way to the end, '64! The only other car I remember with those, are the two-seat Thunderbirds.

    I love the Gran Turismo Hawk, especially '64, but Studebaker knew it was the oldest basic bodyshell still being used. They often used "classic" in its advertising. : Some of the available features, like in-dash tach, PRND21 automatic, supercharger, and disc brakes, were avant-garde for the time.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    For fin:


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  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130

    For fin:

    Very cool. That same stock illustration was used everywhere it seems. And a coupe demo, that must have been the owner's car.

    All cars with radio too - fintails did not come from the factory with a radio, all were dealer/owner installed.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Looking at that '55 wagon reminds me that when the '55's were introduced they didn't have a wraparound windshield, but that was a midyear '55 addition. Added zero to the styling IMHO.
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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,146

    I should have put quotes around "factory air."

    I think my 67 Mustang had air inlets in the footwells from the cowl air intake. Im trying to verify that.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 236,485

    For fin:


    I was about two miles from there on Wednesday..

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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,146
    This is what the building and lot look like today in Ft Wayne. Pretty big for a dealer
    in my experience in Indiana. Building looks well designed with showroom
    and entrance midway for parts and service.



    Someone's earlier photo


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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 12
    Yesterday I came across this photo from around 1998 of my old '63 Lark Daytona Skytop with factory R1 Avanti power. I had just had a leaf added to each rear spring and I was unhappy with how high it sat in the back. The shop told me it would 'settle', and it eventually did.

    I miss that car.



    I was a fussbutt about originality/authenticity, and even the mudflaps were Studebaker.

    I replaced every single seat piece with NOS except the rear seat back, which amazingly was in good condition. If you squint you can see the white Lark 'bird' emblem in the upper center of that seat back.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081

    ‘64 or ‘65 service dept. shot inside my hometown dealer. Fintail sedan, new Canadian Stude, and Simca in shot—the three lines they carried at the time.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 16
    I'll condense the story, but I found a folder full of correspondence from the original owner of a '63 Lark Daytona Wagonaire subsequently owned by the late newsletter editor of our Ohio Region Studebaker Drivers' Club. The editor's family gave it to the current newsletter editor, who gave it to me, knowing I'm a Stude history nerd.

    The original owner was a professor at Kent State University named Edgar McCormick, and he was a voracious Studebaker buff and owner. From what I can see in the folder of stuff, he bought five new Studebakers between 1959 and 1966.

    The folder is full of newspaper clippings about Studebaker, from the Akron Beacon-Journal and other papers.

    He wrote the president of Studebaker more than once in the '60's, and got responses, which I have. None from Sherwood Egbert, my Stude hero, sadly, but from Byers Burlingame, Egbert's successor and the CEO who ordered the shutdown, and also one from R. H. Guthrie who was on the board. That letter has in the upper right-hand corner, "RICHARD NIXON, COUNSEL".

    I'll post the two most interesting, in my opinion, here and below.

    This one was written only four days after JFK's assassination. The Board had Egbert "resign" the Monday after the assassination--supposedly thinking all the major news would result in this not being 'big news'. The letter's typist, 'MJR', was Martha Jane Rich, later Martha Fleener, who subsequently married Lon Fleener. I'd met Martha a couple times at South Bend meets in the early '90's; a charming, polished older lady. She said her husband Lon "helped bring Mercedes to this country". That was a bit of hyperbole probably, but he was an exec in the M-B Sales division of Studebaker and stayed with M-B after they were broken off from Stude in 1965.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 16

    A matter of a few months after South Bend shut down, Ford mailed Studebaker owners a large envelope that said "A MESSAGE OF INTEREST TO STUDEBAKER OWNERS", and inside was a 1964 Ford full-line brochure. Nowhere on the envelope did it say "Ford", although there was a tiny "DEARBORN, MICHIGAN" in the upper left-hand corner.

    Mr. McCormick was incensed at this, feeling that Ford was telling Studebaker owners that Studebaker was gone for good.

    Attached is the large Ford envelope, and Studebaker's subsequent response envelope. The Stude response was that they were in business to stay. The letter from the Auto Division's president to Mr. McCormick, about Ford's mailing, is shown below.


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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 16
    This was the letter inside the Studebaker mailing countering the Ford mailing.



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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Factory photo of a '63 Avanti from FB today.

    As I always say, I don't like the mirror out on the fender, although I've seen factory photos like this, and also pics with the mirror on the door, or no mirror at all.

    I always think this is a good angle of an Avanti, to show the general grace of the design.


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  • thebeanthebean Member Posts: 1,216

    It kinda looks like the A-pillar would be in the way of the driver looking at the rear view mirror. It may just be the angle of the picture. I’m not sure I have ever seen an Avanti in the flesh, much less one with the mirror like this.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    I agree, it does look like that.

    Over the years, I've heard that there is no place on an Avanti you could lay a ruler completely flat. Don't know if that's hyperbole or not.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    The turquoise is the best color on an Avanti IMHO:


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  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130
    That's the color I would want. Maybe a white/off-white/or matching interior.

    The mirror thing reminds me of fintails, which also had a fender mounted mirror maybe until late in the 1962 or early 1963 calendar year when it moved to the door, much better ergonomics, adjusting a fender mirror had to be a little annoying.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    On an Avanti, in turquoise, I actually like the 'fawn' interior. It's vinyl, not leather, but a good vinyl, and to me, leather should be that color. LOL
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  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130
    Something I forgot in BTTF III, in the drive-in scene, there's a Studebaker billboard in the background:



    Studebaker had a noticeable background role, with the dealership in 1955 being a Toyota dealer in 1985.
  • thebeanthebean Member Posts: 1,216
    I watched an episode of "Roadkill's Junkyard Gold" this morning on Motor Trend TV (I had recorded it a few weeks ago and just now got around to watching it) that dealt exclusively with Studes. In this junkyard in Texas, not too awfully far from where I live, they had a 1958 President Starlight hardtop. I have never seen one of these in my life. It looked a lot like the late 50's Chrysler products, except the fins weren't as tall. Very cool and quite a bit different from the normal President four door sedan.

    He (Steve Magnante) also showed an early 60's Hawk GT, and the interesting thing about this car was the rear seat floor pan. It was so narrow that you could only put one of your feet in it at a time. So, you rode with one foot in the floor pan and one on the trans tunnel. That was something I had never seen either. I would hate to take a long trip in the back seat.

    I don't see where this show will be rerun any time in the next few weeks, but if anyone is interested you can keep a watch out for it. This was on the Motor Trend channel on cable/satellite, not the streaming channel.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Most Studes of that era had almost flat floors, but I've seen what you're talking about on GT Hawks. There is a footwell in the rear, down, but not a real big one.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited February 28
    On another Edmunds forum I post pretty regularly on, there's recent discussion about Checkers. I'd post this there but I think there is zero interest in things Studebaker there.

    Late '60's, at the earliest, Checkers (and International pickups and Travelalls, as well), had the good-looking 1964-65 Studebaker full wheel covers as an option (minus the 'S' in the center, of course).

    Also, when South Bend's smaller-of-the-two Studebaker dealers, Nate Altman, was looking for ways to rejuvenate the defunct Avanti, he went to Morris Markin of Checker to see if they would build it on their line. Markin said, "You expect us to build a car that ugly?" to which Altman replied, "Seriously? You build the Checker Marathon!", LOL.

    At that point, Altman decided to buy a building or two from Studebaker and build the Avanti II himself. I think it is nothing short of a miracle that he received bank financing to build the car, not long after the collapse of auto and truck manufacturing by Studebaker in the U.S. He bought the rights and leftover parts for Avanti, and also Stude trucks, and hired unemployed Avanti production workers.

    It would be like a Chevy dealer going to GM and asking to continue building the Camaro, and GM saying, "OK".

    Altman sold 'regular' Studebakers to the end, '66, and had also been an Edsel dealer, and Packard dealer before that. He became a Studebaker dealer in successful 1959.
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  • thebeanthebean Member Posts: 1,216
    edited February 28
    How many iterations of the Avanti have there been, with the original Stude one counting as te first obviously? I don’t keep up with it, TBH. I’m much more fond of the Cruisers/Daytonas. Blasphemy, I know. 🙂
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  • EfrainCookeEfrainCooke Member Posts: 25
    The Avanti has indeed had several iterations since its inception by Studebaker. After the original Studebaker Avanti, which was produced from 1962 to 1963, the Avanti nameplate has seen various attempts at revival by different companies. There have been Avanti II, Avanti Motors, Avanti automotive, and then Avanti motors again
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Efraine is correct.

    Studebaker built Avantis from 1962 to the last week of December, 1963 (which were 1964 models by that time).

    Avanti II production started in 1965 by Nate Altman in the old South Bend Avanti building. He died in 1976. His brother, Arnold, continued to build them through 1982. The quality under Nate supposedly was always good, but Arnold didn't have the same love of the product.

    Steve Blake bought the company and no longer called the car "II". He tried to update the chassis but the cars had paint problems. The Blake era was 1983-85 or 86 (I'm just not sure). He added a convertible model and a long-wheelbase coupe (ugh).

    J.J. Cafaro of Youngstown, OH bought the company in South Bend, and not long after moved production to Youngstown. He added a four-door sedan model which had rear doors that recalled the '59 and '60 Lark four-door--not a good look. '91's were the last Cafaro cars.

    I'm thinking that until near the end of the '90's, there were no Avantis. Some guys put Avanti bodywork on Firebird chassis and interiors--one of the stylists was Tom Kellogg of the original Studebaker Avanti design team.

    In 2005, I think, Avantis were made on Mustang chassis but the final car was built in 2006 in Cancun, Mexico. The president of the company, a South Bend native, ended up going to jail for a Ponzi scheme. While it's a Studebaker or none for me, the lifespan is pretty amazing.
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  • thebeanthebean Member Posts: 1,216
    Wow, I never knew that many people built Avanti’s. This is great info, and I thank both of you for it. 👍
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  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 236,485
    A buddy of mine winters in Punta Gorda, and this car is currently in his parking garage.
    https://www.premierauctiongroup.com/vehicles/9033/1932-studebaker-commander-restomod-coupe

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  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,130
    Del Boca Vista Phase 3?

    That's a good restomod - always should be key IMO to have a ride height and tire/wheel package as close to stock looking as possible. I've always seen the ideal as fooling people into thinking it is stock until you open the hood (or doors).
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Nice job, although I like original. Some Studes of that era are full 'Classic''s, but I'm not sure which models, but that early '30's era.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited March 10
    Fellow to whom I sold my '66 a few months back, sent me this pic today. It's in good company with the rest of his Studes.
    May be an image of hood ornament
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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,146

    Beautiful.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    That '41 or '42 coupe in the lower-left of the pic is a prewar car I like. Clean down the sides; only moldings are rocker moldings, sort of like concurrent Continentals, and the windshield is one-piece curved, unusual at the time.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    I like the ad, I like the pickup.
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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited March 16
    On this date in 1966, this, the last Studebaker, came down the Hamilton, Ontario line. Employee photo. This car was shipped to South Bend and driven by a Stude exec until 1969 at which point it was donated to the City of South Bend. It's in the Studebaker National Museum now with just under 20K miles.



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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited March 20
    My former '63 is for sale in Australia now for $38K Australian, which is about $25K American I believe. I miss it, but not enough to buy it back. This pic is from Australia.

    I know I say this all the time, but the '63 Larks, especially to my eyes, have a few 'Mercedes bends' as the Eagles say in "Hotel California", here and there.

    That car was nicely equipped from the factory with the Avanti R1 engine, factory air, Skytop sunroof, Twin Traction, and tinted glass in all windows. Reclining seats too.

    I paid $2,600 for the car in 1988, which was probably a grand too much (LOL), and got a loan through my employer's credit union for it! They had never loaned on an old car before. Westmoreland Studebaker (now Westmoreland Restorations) did a beautiful job restoring it to the level I wanted, six or seven years later. I consider the owner and his family, friends as well as business associates.



    This is a closeup of the front fender badge for this car:



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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Came across this Labor Day weekend pic from 1964 of my old Lark at Yellowstone.

    I was happy to get this nice piece of provenance from the original owners.


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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Somehow I don't think this ad would go over real well today.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    edited April 3
    Looking recently at photos of my old Skytop, including with the original owners, made me think to Google their names. Sadly, I found that Peter passed on March 24 and in fact his service was only yesterday.

    https://www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com/obituaries/peter-duginski
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  • sdasda Member Posts: 6,958

    Looking recently at photos of my old Skytop, including with the original owners, made me think to Google their names. Sadly, I found that Peter passed on March 24 and in fact his service was only yesterday.

    https://www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com/obituaries/peter-duginski</blockquote
    How sad. I have had a similar experience when I was thinking of someone only to learn they had recently passed.

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  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 16,081
    Spotted in Jerome, ID, recently, and posted on FB...'60 Champ pickup. Looks overall not bad.


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