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Studebaker, too small to win

Studebaker Silver Hawk
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My two favorite toy cars were Corgi Toys, the slightly nicer counterparts of the Dinky Toys. It was the 1928 Bentley 3 Liter by Avenger John Steed and the Studebaker Golden Hawk. "A 'Hawk' is a hawk," my father explained.

Studebaker, problems with 1933 1n 1966

In 1736 relatives of the Stutenbecker family left Solingen in Germany and traveled via Rotterdam to Philadelpia. Solingen has been famous for centuries for its forges, the famous 'Solingen steel', and all kinds of cutting and shearing tools. The immigration officer on Ellis Island changed the family name based on what he heard in 'Studebaker' NB: In https://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/88_donna.html this way of doing is challenged. But that "Neustädter" changed to "Newton" and "Hallivichoff" to "Hall." We understand that.


Smaller than the Big Three

Studebakers American roots were firmly rooted in 1852, when the brothers Henry and Clement Studebaker started a forge, the 'Studebaker Corporation' in Indiana. They became the leading producer of covered wagons for the army and did very good business in the civil war. When the US became 100 years old, the Studebaker Company was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in the world. Around the turn of the century they entered the car world. Their first car was made in 1902 and was ... electric. Only two years later did Studebaker switch to gasoline.

In the 1920s, the Big Six, Special Six, Light Six and Standard Six type names indicated motorization at Studebaker. In 1927 the mutual differences became clearer with the new names President, Commander and Dictator. For the small scholarships there was the 'Erskine'.

In 1915, Albert Erskine was head of Studebaker and brought the brand to the 'next level' by buying the renowned car manufacturer Pierce-Arrow. In 1933 the company almost collapsed due to the consequences of the Great Depression. The chairman, Albert Erskine resigned and committed suicide. Studebaker returned to the black numbers, but never got going again. The fact that the brand was also going to make very good trucks did not change that. In 1939, Studebaker presented the cheap six-cylinder Champion in parallel with the six-cylinder Commander and the eight-cylinder President.

The Hawks

For us it usually only gets exciting at the Hawks, the Golden Hawk and the Silver Hawk and the Gran Turismo. Those cars bore the signature of Raymond Loewy and Robert Bourke. And despite their size, they had an impressive degree of un-American elegance.

By that time, the Packard Motor Car Company had acquired the Studebaker Corporation and the new kongsi was in a fierce battle with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. It was a kind of Calimero effect: "They are big, and I am small ..."

Somewhere in the process, the dictator fell. That happens more often and still with dicators. Just look at the news. The curtain finally fell in 1966.

With two faces

Before that and after the war, the new Studebakers were nicknamed "Coming-and-Going cars" because the front and rear were very similar. But for 1951, Studebaker came up with its very own V8 head valve and that block went into the Commander.

In the meantime, demand for smaller cars grew and Studebaker left only the Silver Hawk in the large segment. The rest of the energy went to the smaller birds: the Larks. And my father would have explained in my toy age that a "lark" is a lark. That was not a bad idea in the short term. Because in 1959 the Larks left the store like hot cakes. 1959 was Studebaker's glory year. In 1960, GM, Chrysler and Ford had their own compacts ready and for sale. Aiii. That hurt.

Studebaker decided to go on a sporting tour

Because a tight course change was needed to survive, the Gran Turimo Hawk was presented in 1962, a car with a V8 and a Paxton Supercharger. And then there was the futuristic Studebaker Avanti. An un-American styled beauty with a polyester carriage.

It all didn't help. The tent went flat.

Dedicated Studebaker riders jumped at the 'sell-out' and founded 'the Studebaker Drivers Club', the 'Antique Studebaker Club' and the 'Avanti Owners Association'. Those are still thriving clubs.

The downfall

This was because Studebaker never knew the mass and momentum of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. And from that angle, Studebaker has actually done very well in his 114-year existence.

The reason for this online text

Studebaker is such a brand that is in your mind. It was a nice brand. And the Hawks and Avantis were beautiful cars. Yet you don't see much of it. Auto Motor Klassiek was lucky to find a very nice specimen. We are working on the story about that car. And we also tell him where he is. But in the meantime we are saving ourselves.

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A reaction

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  1. Strange that the color in the name of a car often does not come back in real life. Golden Hawk are not golden Silver idem, Corvair Greenbrier usually have all colors except green etc. Weird folks who Amis :-).

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