Tag: studebaker

When Studebaker was nearly saved by the world’s largest GM dealer – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

When Studebaker was nearly saved by the world’s largest GM dealer – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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George Murphy was riding high in the mid-1960s. He owned a string of GM dealerships in Hawaii and California. He was named Hawaii’s Businessman of the Year in 1965. Time magazine profiled him less than a year later. And he’d just pocketed $15 million from turning around Honolulu Iron Works. The obvious next step for him then was to buy Studebaker just before it quit building cars.

To Murphy, it made perfect sense. The Saskatchewan native had been selling cars since he joined his father’s Chevrolet dealership in 1921. He later established his own Oldsmobile dealership in Honolulu in 1938, leveraging the success of that to buy into Aloha Chevrolet in 1940. His modus operandi, as he explained to the Wall Street Journal in 1940, consisted of buying “rundown, poor management companies” then turning them around, though during World War II he also found a successful scheme buying trucks in bulk then turning around and selling the trucks to the U.S. and Allied governments right when they needed trucks the most. Under his ownership, Aloha expanded by selling GM vehicles—including Holdens—all around the Pacific Rim, eventually becoming the largest General Motors dealership in the world.

Studebaker’s automotive division, meanwhile, had been in freefall. In 1963 alone, it lost more than $25 million, prompting the company—which had already started to diversify its holdings years prior—to close the South Bend, Indiana, plant and move production to Hamilton, Ontario. Murphy sensed an opportunity with Studebaker, so in February of 1966, after selling Honolulu Iron Works, he approached Studebaker chairman Randolph Guthrie with an offer to buy 500,000 shares of Studebaker stock—more than a sixth of the outstanding shares of common stock—at $30 per share, above market price. The offer came out of left field, according to a lawsuit between Studebaker and Allied Products, a Studebaker supplier that also entered in negotiations to buy the company immediately after Murphy’s offer. Studebaker’s board of directors appeared in favor of Murphy’s offer but ultimately left the decision up to the stockholders, who, by all indications, let the offer die on the vine. Guthrie, in turn, rejected Allied’s offer, and a month later Studebaker shut down the Hamilton assembly line, bringing an end to the company’s car making efforts

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How Does 1964 Hawk Power Make a 1951 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe Go? – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Three-on-the-tree is one of my favorite setups to drive. When I saw the clutch pedal and column shifter in this 1951 Champion, I grinned. You see, I had a ’50 Champion with the same arrangement, and I drove it all over Michigan’s Lower Peninsula back in 2015.

Well, not exactly the same arrangement. For one thing, although Mark Klinger’s bullet-nose is generally similar to a ’50, the ’51 cars were pretty heavily reworked right from the factory. More importantly, this one is hiding a V-8 surprise.

“Foul!” some purists will cry. “A hot rod in the pages of Hemmings Classic Car!” But consider that even the Studebaker faithful love this one, which we discovered back in late August, at a regional Studebaker Drivers’ Club gathering in Rutland, Vermont, just an hour or so north of our Bennington home offices. Lucky us, because the car had been driven the four hours from Auburn, Maine, where Mark and wife Lynn run the Sleepy Time Motel, which itself looks straight out of a 1950s road trip.

Gray leather replaces the factory broadcloth. Note lift-latch seatbelts.

A big factor in the acceptance of Mark’s car is the Studebaker V-8 used in the conversion. It’s a 1964-vintage 289-cu.in. version, which would have been rated at 210 or 225 horsepower, depending on whether it was topped with a two- or four-barrel carburetor. It has a four-barrel now. At first blush, it seems like it would be a pretty straightforward swap, as the Commander used an earlier version of the engine in the same chassis, but the original builder, an engineer, went above and beyond the factory in making the conversion as dialed in as it could be.

Even barring an engineering background, Studebaker owners from the beginning of the V-8 era have a lot of options to make their cars road ready just by combing through the factory parts bins. The new-for-’51 front suspension design, for example, was essentially the same as that used under the final Studebaker Larks in 1966. The design remained in use in the sporty fiberglass GT, the Avanti, up through 1985.

Thanks to that, rebuild parts for the 1951 chassis, along with brake and handling upgrades, remain remarkably accessible thanks to a large cache of Studebaker NOS items built at South Bend in the days before its 1964 closure. It was the foundation and remains the core of the Studebaker aftermarket. It also helps that Studebaker used the same Carter carburetors, Borg-Warner manual transmissions, and Dana 44 axles as much of the rest of the industry

Despite air conditioning, the car does without a heater or a radio.

All of that is to say we didn’t even realize we were looking at a non-stock Studebaker at first. Sure, the blue hue seems a bit brighter than the Maui or Aero Blues of 1951, but you could write that off as variations in modern paint mixes and the bright sun. That’s a 1952 steering wheel, but unless you’re already an expert on 1947-’52 Studebakers, that’s not obvious. It’s got bias-ply whitewalls and full wheelcovers, for Pete’s sake. And, as hinted above, there’s little external difference between a Champion and Commander, which can make them difficult to tell apart.

The big clue ends up being the body style. It turns out Studebaker didn’t build a Commander Business Coupe in 1951 (some records suggest they built only one —but this isn’t it). That three-passenger light-weight was exclusive to the Champion line with its 85-hp, 170-cu.in. flathead six, barring would-be scorchers from the potentially most potent power-to-weight combination. If you wanted a Business Coupe with the brand-new 120-hp, 233-cu.in. OHV V-8, you’d have to build it yourself. Instead, the few buyers thinking that way just settled for the gorgeous five-passenger Starlight coupe with its wraparound rear window and 65-pound weight penalty.

A fellow named Dave Carter, then in California, now in South Carolina, originally put this car together back in 2005-’06. Mark bought it this way, back in April of 2021, after he found it for sale in Tempe, Arizona. Luckily, Mark is from that area originally, and his brother (who owns a 1952 Starlight) was willing to go check it out for him. The modified ’51 appealed to Mark for the same reasons it appealed to us: Aside from some non-stock details, it feels just like something Studebaker could have, should have, and maybe would have (had anybody asked) built back in 1951. Right down to the column shifter.

Package shelf is modified for storage access.

Lightweight body aside, Mark’s car ups the ante with what was originally the 225-hp, 289-cu.in. engine in a 1962 Hawk. The Hawk was Studebaker’s creative but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to keep its 1953-vintage bodies relevant as a sporty, full-size car into the ’60s. This engine has been bored over 0.080-inch, bringing its displacement to over 302 cu.in., but “as far as I know,” Mark says, “it’s otherwise stock.” The engine’s current horsepower is unknown, but presumably a skosh higher than the original 225, which was already more than double that of a ’51 Commander engine. Nevertheless, the 289 is very mildly built, with road manners suited to interstate driving rather than drag racing.

In fact, Mark observed that the current 3.31 final drive ratio (in a ’64 Hawk Dana 44 with relocated spring perches) don’t necessarily play well with the Borg-Warner R10 overdrive (pirated, along with its siamesed T86 three-speed, from a 1959 Studebaker Lark) and somewhat hamper acceleration from a dead stop. Overdrive cars in the era of 55-mph roads usually came with a ratio in the 4.10s or deeper, suggesting something around 3.90:1 would be suitable today in the flyweight coupe. With the 0.70:1 gearing in the overdrive, the current 3.31s cruise along like a set of 2.32s, while 3.90s would act like 2.73s.

None of this is to say that the Stude’s performance was in any way lackluster. Accelerating with traffic was no difficulty at all: with 3.90s it would probably outrun most of today’s milder commuter cars from stoplight to stoplight. Front discs, from a conversion kit supplied by Turner Brake in South Carolina, mean the car can stop just as well as it accelerates

An engine bay dimensionally identical to a Commander means a ’51 Champion accepts a Studebaker V-8

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The best car-related Christmas present I’ve ever received – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings

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Just to get you into the spirit of the season, here’s a 1960 Chrysler ad featuring Santa.


Unlike the “Old Man” cheerfully unwrapping his can of Simoniz in A Christmas Story, my track record with scoring car stuff as holiday gifts has been notably poor, but it’s all my own fault.

For years, family members have asked what I would like for my endless projects, but I’ve always felt guilty about taking them up on their offers, since what I needed was usually too expensive for a gift (at least in my mind), so I told them not to worry about it.

Nevertheless, thinking about cars and Christmas did remind me of the best automotive-related present I’ve ever gotten—my 1967 GTO. Though I’ve discussed some of its aspects before, I have yet to delve into how I found it and what the test drive was like.

I’m sure you’ve seen the seemingly endless ads each holiday season that depict people receiving a car for Christmas by simply walking out their front door and finding the latest and greatest model, already in their driveway wearing a big red bow and ribbon. Yeah… that didn’t happen to me.

This only front ¾ photo of the GTO I have from when I first bought it.

ack in the mid-1980s, I was in college but had a decent-paying job, so I was searching for a muscle car project. Since the local newspaper classifieds were no help, the Want Ad Press offered the best opportunity for finding something remotely close to home.

The ritual went something like this, I waited for the new issue to come out each week, rifled through it, circled the ads that interested me, and called the sellers to ask them a list of prepared questions. More times than not, their answers dissuaded me from even going to look at the prospect. Then I had to wait a week and do it all over again. Of course, there was no internet back then, so all I had to begin with was a small print ad, typically with about 3 or 4 lines of text, and no photos.

By the fall of 1987, I had endured months of frustration and knew that once the winter weather arrived, everything would become even more difficult. Finally, I caught a break in December. This 1967 GTO was listed, and while most of the cars I had looked at previously were an hour or more away, this one was only about a 25-minute drive, and it passed the telephone interrogation.

When I arrived, I instantly noted the third-gen Trans Am wheels (which I didn’t like on this car), the body damage up front, and the chalky silver repaint over the original Mariner Turquoise hue. Further examination revealed body filler in both quarter panels and the driver’s door, and a rotted trunk floor.

The Goat looked like this in the 1990s when I was driving it regularly.

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A Look Back at Vintage Auto Locks – Locksmith Ledger

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Until sidewinder locks and transponders appeared on the scene, automotive lock systems had remained unchanged for more than 60 years. The last big change in auto lock designs was probably the GM locking sidebar system and that first appeared on 1936 GM models.

Pin tumbler lock systems were popular during the 1920s with manufacturer names such as Yale, Sargent, Corbin, Russwin and Eagle leading the way. Wafer locks were used even before 1920. Early wafer-type auto locks used double-sided keys, but the use of bi-directional double-sided keys had to wait until 1965 when Ford introduced their double-sided pin tumbler lock systems.

Chrysler and Ford began using pin tumbler lock systems in the 1930s. During this same period, many of the smaller companies such as Nash, Hudson and Packard used Briggs & Stratton five tumbler wafer locks. With the exception of Chrysler locks, most car locks made from 1935 to 1970 had key codes printed somewhere on the cylinder housing. Aftermarket key manufacturers still produce key blanks for 95 percent of these old cars and key codes are readily available.

Ignition and door locks were generally keyed alike. Trunk locks and glove box locks were keyed alike but used a separate key code. Chrysler was the exception. A third key was used for locking Chrysler glove box locks which had a wafer lock with a 1098X keyway. Another exception was GM Chevrolet and Buick models in the 1950s. These two models used a key system with all locks keyed alike.

Chrysler

1933-34 Omega key blanks are no longer made, but every car key blank used since 1935 is still listed in the Ilco key catalog. Depending on the Chrysler model, Ilco 1199, 1199A, 1199AR,1199B,1199C,1199D,1199DR and 1199E were used from 1935-1938. Chrysler standardized on a “BP” code series using the Ilco X1199B keyway from 1939-1946. Chrysler used a “CA” code series from 1947-1948 but still used the X1199B keyway. From 1949-1955 Chrysler used a “CB” code series with the Ilco X1199G keyway. From 1956-1967 Chrysler used a “CJ” series with the Ilco X1199J keyway.

Some Chrysler models during 1959-1965 used a “CV” series, GM-type sidebar trunk lock with an Ilco 1759P keyway. Steel shafts on Chrysler T-handle locks in the late 1940s and early 1950s were notorious for separating from the die case handle portion. Chrysler models in the late 1950s used push button trunk locks. There were many different designs and sizes. Most were not made to be easily disassembled. Impressioning is the best choice when key fitting.

General Motors

GM experimented with a double-sided key system for 1934-1935 and key blanks are no longer made. From 1936-1966, GM used a six-cut sidebar lock system with Ilco key blank H1098LA and code series 8001-9499. A set of 60 tryout keys was available to unlock these sidebar locks. The ignition lock has a poke hole in the facecap. Turn the ignition counter-clockwise to the accessory position using a proper tryout key. Insert a pin or bent paper clip into the poke hole to depress the retainer, then turn the cylinder slightly further counter-clockwise and remove the cylinder. Key codes are stamped on the plug.

GM door locks from 1936 to 1949 used an exterior retainer clip which was located under the door weather stripping. Pry the retainer outward with a screwdriver and the lock cylinder can be easily removed. Key codes are stamped on the housing. GM changed to a pushbutton door handle in the 1950s which had the cylinder mounted in the push button. A large retainer hidden behind the outer weather stripping was used. After dislodging the retainer, the door handle can be removed. Key codes are stamped on the shaft extension.

While GM has used many different glove box lock shapes over the years, many of them have a similar basic design. Picking skill is required. The lock must be in the unlocked position. If it is locked, pick and turn the plug clockwise one quarter turn. Next, compress the locking bolt downward as far as it will go and simultaneously pick the plug clockwise one quarter turn. The plug can now be removed. Key codes are printed on the side of the lock plug.

In 1967 GM changed their lock system, adding one more depth and began using various lettered keyways. Key codes were stamped on lock cylinders until the early 1970s. After that time only the ignition lock contained a key code.

Ford

Model A cars were made from 1927-1931. One of the most popular keys for Model A vehicles is the Ilco C1098A. For some reason Ilco shows this in the General Motors section, but it is definitely only for Ford Model A vehicles.

Ford began using Hurd locks in 1932 and carried the same Ilco 1125H keyway through 1951. Various Dodge trucks also used the same keyway for many years. Several different code series were used such as FX, FW &FY. Fortunately Ford printed the code numbers on every lock, so Ford key fitting is not too difficult. Door locks were held by a set screw accessible on the edge of the door. Unfortunately these screws often rust in place, so removing a Ford door lock is always an adventure.

Ford was one of the first car manufacturers to use locking steering wheels. Vehicles from 1932-1948 used this system. The ignition lock is retained by a serrated pin located on the bottom of the steering wheel lock unit. Removal can be done by drilling a hole into the serrated pin and tapping the hole for 6-32 threads. Insert a long screw into the tapped hole, then attach a vise grip to the screw at a right angle. Hold onto the vise grip handle and hit the vise grip near the screw with a hammer, A few swift hits should dislodge the serrated pin. The ignition cylinder can then be removed for key fitting.

Many Ford locks had no shoulder on the front of the plug. A shim can often be inserted in the front of the cylinder and tumblers can be lifted with a pick as the shim is moved towards the rear. This system can also be used on Hurd padlocks.

The small pin size of Ford locks sometimes lead to quick wear and failure. To solve this problem Ford changed to a sturdier key system for 1952-1956 (Ilco 1127D). Ford again changed keyways for 1957-1966 and added various grooves. An Ilco 1127DU blank will operate any ignition/door lock and the 1127ES will operate any glove/trunk lock made from 1952 to 1966. Key codes continued to be stamped on most lock housings through 1966. Many truck models continued to use the Ford single-sided lock system into the 1970s, but most other Ford models changed to the double-sided Ilco 1167FD key system in 1967.

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Find of the Day: Decades of preservation and fair-weather exercise have kept this 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 fit and ready to roll – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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A quick look through the photos in the listing for this 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 for sale on Hemmings.com had us believing it was a fully restored car, but as we learned from the description, it remains largely original with a few items updated or rebuilt here and there. That’s rather remarkable, but understandable, given how treasured Avantis – supercharged Avantis, particularly – have been since new. We imagine this was a fair-weather car –  socked away in a dry place in the winters and regularly serviced every spring – and it appears ready to continue in that capacity for many years to come.From the seller’s description:

This 1963 Studebaker Avanti is very original to its date of manufacture. It is a supercharged R2 with 89,000 miles. Equipped with automatic trans, power steering, brakes, and windows. Seats and trim are as delivered, and carpet is updated in correct salt and pepper design. All instruments function but the clock is not connected. AM radio is functional. All lights work properly. Brakes serviced and duel master cylinder installed for upgraded safety. Supercharger recently overhauled by factory. All glass and rubber seals are in excellent condition. Torque boxes, (hog troughs) are in good condition. Tires are new and the correct size for 1963 introduction. Paint on a scale of 1 thru 10 is a strong 9.5 with zero cracks, nicks or blemishes. Finish has a high sheen/luster. Chrome is a 9.0. There is the typical Studebaker oil leak to report.

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Which one of these four vintage pickups from the Sixties would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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If there is a vehicle that built the American economy, it is arguably the pickup. Consider its versatility in basic light-duty form: Farmers could bring their humble harvest to market in the same design that enabled store owners to deliver goods to households in both the cities and suburbs with efficient ease. Everything from animal feed, to building supplies, to small appliances could be transported, and it didn’t take long for adventurous outdoorsmen to convert their coveted workhorse into a weekend camper with a clever aftermarket add-on. Its evolution continues today, serving family needs in more powerful and luxurious ways than once envisioned. Meanwhile, the more vintage steeds have become a hot commodity among old vehicle enthusiasts, so in our latest edition of This or That, we bring you four half-tons from the Sixties to ponder for your dream garage – all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

Up first is a pickup that regular readers of our Hemmings Classic Car magazine may recognize: this 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe, which appeared in the May 2019 issue, as well as our 2020 Hemmings Vintage Trucks calendar. Studebaker’s half-ton Champ was introduced to the truck market in 1960, and while it may have appeared as an all-new light-duty hauler at first blush, the company’s lack of engineering funds meant that the outgoing model – the Scotsman – was, on the surface, given a new name with a facelift, courtesy of the Lark sedan. Aside from the cab’s front end, save for a four-bar grille versus a mesh design, the Lark’s instrument panel was carried forward to the Champ, too. Two upgrades highlighted our featured ’61 model year: The use of a 110-hp, 170-cu.in. six-cylinder engine in base trim, and the “Spaceside” cargo box. The latter was made possible thanks to old tooling obtained from Dodge, which accounted for the mismatched cab/cargo box body transition. According to the seller of this Champ:

his 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe pickup is a nicely restored example. If you are a fan of the Hemmings Vintage Trucks Calendar, it was used for the July 2020 page. The red paint has the vibrant look of a modern quality respray, so the sunlight shows off the well-done bodywork as the Lark-inspired front end flows into a muscular bed design. And speaking of the bed, the finish applied over the oak wood on the bed floor and removable side stakes has a gloss that rivals the paint. This has upgraded chrome on the bumpers, grille, and side trim. The wheels have classic Studebaker hubcaps, and the whitewalls coordinate with the body’s white pinstripe. It’s believed Studebaker produced less than 7,700 consumer pickups across the entire line in 1961. The exterior red returns inside. It’s now joined by a tasteful black on the seat, carpeting, and dash. The experience inside this pickup is truly authentic, right down to the large dual-spoke steering wheel that gives a clear view to the correct classic gauges. The AM radio still cranks out tunes and the heater works. Plus, this one has the rare sliding rear window option. The engine bay has an authentic 170 cubic-inch straight-six backed by a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission.

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A little Studebaker V-8 history with one of the most successful Stude drag racers – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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In every niche in the collector car world, there are people you stop and listen to, no matter the occasion. When it comes to Studebaker drag racing, that person is Ted Harbit, who’s been campaigning the cars from South Bend on dragstrips since the Fifties. We’ve covered Ted’s Flyin’ Tomato in the pages of Hemmings Muscle Machines and have caught him at the Pure Stock Drags over the years, but more recently Ted weighed in on Bob Palma’s recently highlighted column about the Studebaker V-8. So let’s stop and listen to Ted’s story, told from his own keyboard.

I’m 84 years old and have driven Studebakers since I got my license at 16. My first car was a ’50 Champion and being a very economical six it was not a “hot” car. My next car was a ’51 Commander with the first year Stude V8 and found it to be almost impossible to destroy. It was a convertible and I entered it in the first NHRA National Drag Race held in Indianapolis. The oil pressure was really low on it and since I was going to enter it in the NHRA Summer National Drags in Indy I wanted to overhaul it but when I tried to “blow” the engine, I could not. I run it until the valves floated in first and second many times but it just kept on running. The oil pressure was about 5 pounds at idle and only would go up to about 20 while driving it even up to about 5000+ rpms when the valves would start to float.

When I gave up trying to blow it up I tore it down and the rod bearings looked worn but not completely shot. The main bearings still looked decent. I think the cam bearings

Why Studebaker Failed: In the End, It is Always Management – Richard M Langworth

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Why did Studebaker go out of business? I have your book Studebaker 1946-1966, originally published as Studebaker: The Postwar Years.

I worked for the old company at the end in Hamilton, Ontario. Your book brought back memories of many old Studebaker hands. Stylists Bob Doehler and Bob Andrews were good friends about my age.

I am looking forward to the last chapter discussing how Studebaker went wrong, especially since I also have theories. It would fun to compare notes. I often quote from your book: “For many years, Raymond Loewy Associates would be the only thing standing between Studebaker and dull mediocrity.”

Like you I owned a 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk, a surprisingly impressive car. Drove it back and forth to Hamilton when we were working on the last 1966 production Studebakers. I put a ’53 Starliner decklid on it and ’54 Starliner wheel covers; I thought each addition was an improvement. —B.M.

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Midwest Moxie – 1961 Studebaker Champ – Mike McNessor @Hemmings

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1961 Studebaker Champ

Drive somewhere in a Studebaker Champ and you can expect to put smiles on people’s faces. This is a truck that hits every happiness-inducing high note: It’s an old pickup, it sports quirky Jet Age styling, it’s unusual, and it’s the progeny of a beloved American independent.

But the Champ’s backstory is more of a tragedy, like the plot of that tear-jerking 1979 movie with which this truck shares its name. A great boxer, slightly past his prime, steps into the ring for one more bout, wins the fight, only to die in the end. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as sad as Ricky Schroder bawling over a lifeless Jon Voight in The Champ, but you get the point. By the time the Champ squared off against Detroit’s commercial heavyweights, Studebaker lacked the resources to compete in this increasingly fierce arena. South Bend’s Champ was like a battery of scrappy combination punches, thrown furiously by a staggered Studebaker, that were too little too late to save the storied company.

1961 Studebaker Champ

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Related – 1950 Studebaker Pickup Truck Custom

You may be cool, but are you ‘Studebaker Cool?’ – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

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Brooks Stevens’s Sceptre concept, designed for Studebaker. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Art Museum.

From its start as a manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons to its demise as an independent automaker competing head-to-head with Detroit’s Big Three, Studebaker enjoyed over a century of success. Opening on May 18 at the AACA Museum Inc. in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Studebaker Cool: 114 Years of Innovation narrates the history of the imaginative brand with a display of over 40 vehicles, focusing primarily on the years between 1906 and the end of automobile production in 1966.

Among the vehicles scheduled for display is a battery-electric wagon from Studebaker’s early days as a powered vehicle manufacturer. Built to carry congressmen through the tunnels connecting the Capitol to government office buildings nearby, the 1908 Studebaker Electric “Carry All” was one of two such models built for this purpose.

Read Kurt’s article here