Studebaker Lark produced from 1959 to 1966
1959 to 1966
The Studebaker Lark was a "compact" car that Studebaker-Packard Corporation produced from 1959 to 1962. In 1963 and 1964, the renamed Studebaker Corporation continued production. In addition, the model was also built by the Canadian subsidiary Studebaker of Canada Ltd. between 1959 and 1966 . built. The Lark and its derivatives were Studebaker's most frequently produced model series, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1952 and discontinuing production in 1966. When the Lark was designed, the Studebaker-Packard Corporation cooperated with the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company .
The Studebaker Lark basically used the bodywork and bodywork of the larger Studebaker models from 1953-1958. The car became a compact car by reducing the front and rear overhang and reducing the wheelbase. It was hoped that this model, which appeared as a 1959 model in the fall of 1958, would save America's oldest vehicle manufacturer, just as the Studebaker Champion had done in the pre- World War II years. There were two series of Larks: The Lark VI and the Lark VIII , which respectively indicated the engine type. Both series were available in the Standard and Regal equipment lines .
The sales figures of the 1959 and 1960s models were quite neat, as Studebaker had made agreements with several dealers of the "Big Three" (GM, Ford and Chrysler), who could not yet offer compact cars, agreements on "dual representations". This program decisively threw back Studebaker in 1961, when all major manufacturers offered compact cars and forced their dealers to return Studebaker agents.
Initially, 2- and 4-door sedans, a 2-door hardtop coupe and a 3-door station wagon were offered. From 1960 there was also a nice drawn Cabriolet (the first at Studebaker since 1952) and a 5-door station wagon. In 1961, a new four-door sedan, the Cruiser , was introduced, with a 115 mm longer wheelbase (2870 mm vs. 2755 mm), which was more appropriate for the long-wheelbase Studebakers such as the Land Cruiser of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Years remembered. A fabric folding roof - called Skytop - was available for all sedans and the hardtop coupe.
1959 and 1960, there was the Lark either with the inline six-cylinder with stationary valves (L-Head) and 2,785 cc displacement or with the V8 with 4,244 cc. From 1961 there was also a request V8 engine with 4.736 cc displacement of the Hawk series , and from 1963 were also the high performance "Series R" engines - some even equipped with Paxton compressors, which then up to 335 bhp (246 kW) - installed.
Despite some design improvements, such as a new intake system, a top-mounted six-cylinder, updated steering systems, and minor styling changes, Lark's sales fell noticeably in 1961 as the larger US automakers offered their own sleek compact cars that offered more modern detail than the best Studebaker's aging Lark efforts.
To counteract the trend of downward sales, the construction of the Lark was extended in a decisive, but cost-effective overhaul in 1962 by Brooks Stevens and modernized its interior. Studebaker had entered into a sales cooperation with Daimler-Benz in 1957, and the new grille of the Studebaker should look similar to the Mercedes-Benz models. Studebaker's management was obviously very pleased with the changes Stevens made. She could not believe he'd done it with so little money.
In addition to the new styling, Studebaker followed the bucket seat and console madness of the early 1960s and introduced the Daytona trim level . After the Cruiser had become the best-equipped sedan in 1961, the Daytona replaced the equipment line Regal at Coupé and Cabriolet as the best equipment, the equipment line shelf was still available for another year.
Immediately after Stevens' transformation, sales increased again; Had the strike by the United Auto Workers (union) at Studebaker's South Bend plant failed in early 1962, the company could easily have sold more than 100,000 new cars this year. But that was over 90,000, significantly more than in 1961.
1963 disappeared the outdated panoramic windshield of the Lark and the structure was made lighter by thinner door and roof pillars, which even made the car look more modern. Studebaker also introduced the new Wagonaire with sunroof , also designed by Stevens, and for the first time since its launch in 1961, the Cruiser was no longer called Lark, though it was still one, but with more luxury equipment than the regular models.
In 1963, the Daytona line was extended by the new Wagonaire added to the still available convertible and hardtop versions. The formerly best equipment line shelfreplaced the deluxe equipment of the years 1959-1962 and the Custom became now the best equipment line. The custom models had a decoration of the vehicle sides, like the Daytona from 1962, while Daytona and Cruiser received new decorations, which began as a thin strip on the front fenders, were widened at the rear and the lettering "Daytona" or "Cruiser" enclosed ,
Mid-1963 Studebaker introduced the standard series, a completely unadorned equipment line of the Lark in the manner of the Scotsman of 1957 / 1958. Although he - like the Cruiser - was a Lark, had no Lark logos, but only the name "Studebaker" on the front fenders. In addition, the standard had - according to its modest image - no decorations on the vehicle sides. The standard was a cheap deal and intended mainly for large vehicle fleets; the 2-door sedan cost US $ 1,935. Especially in comparison with other compact cars, it was cheap.
The modest changes that Studebaker saw as a continuation of last year's improvements were not enough for the buyers. This again brought lower sales figures, this time about 77,000 pieces.
Thus, the management allowed Stevens larger (but still inexpensive) changes for the model year 1964. The new appearance coincided with the removal of the name Lark. The 1963 standard became the Challenger , the Regal and Custom lines became Commander , the Daytona was also available as a 4-door sedan, and the Cruiser continued. All except the Cruiser had a Wagonaire.
The radiator grill in Mercedes-type of the models 1962/1963 was replaced by a pressed aluminum grill over the entire vehicle width, which had rectangular borders of the main headlights. Stevens flattened the bonnet, roof and boot lid and reworked the rear panel so that it now picked up horizontal taillights and reversing lights, retaining the fenders that were still fitted to the new look in 1962, significantly reducing the cost of new tools.
Studebaker tried to portray the 1964 models as powerful, and sent some to Bonneville Flats to set new speed records for production vehicles. Gene Booth , publisher of the magazine Car Life , went to South Bend and helped to build a Daytona hardtop coupe, which later tested the magazine. This car was the only one that came with the factory equipped with the dual-quad "R4" dual-quad-engine with 4,989 cc capacity.Despite all efforts was quickly apparent that nothing could bring the sales figures of Studebaker from the basement, neither any styling change or the introduction of new models, such as the Wagonaire 1963. Also, the introduction of high-performance engines of the "R-series" and performance packages (Art the Studebaker Avanti), which with the help of "Mr. Indy 500 " Andy Granatelli , who chaired Studebaker's Paxton and STP Divisions, failed.
In the fall of 1963, after the 1964 models did not attract too much customer interest, the management decided that they wanted to say goodbye to the car business. However, this should be done slowly and methodically so that the company would not face claims for damages from angry traders.On December 9, 1963, the closure of the factory in South Bend (Indiana) was announced, and the last car in the design of the Lark, a burgundy 1964 Daytona, which should go to a dealer in Pennsylvania , left the assembly line on December 20, 1963 ,
Manufacturing in Canada 1964-1966
Following the closure of the South Bend plant, production continued at the Canadian plant in Hamilton, Ontario . The engines for the late 1964 models still came from the factory in South Bend, until the contracts with the United Auto Workers (union) had expired.
The 1964 models from Canadian manufacturing were not very different from those from South Bend; however, the entire Challenger series has been discontinued. Six-cylinder models of the Daytona, which did not exist in the US (but in Canada), were added to the new offer for the US. Another new model was the Commander Special , which combined the mediocre Commander construction with the sporty interior of the Daytona. It was well priced and therefore modestly popular, and thus served as the basis for a 1965 model.
When the foundry in South Bend closed its doors in May 1964 because the union contract expired, Studebaker had to look for a new engine supplier. The small engineering department carefully examined offers from GM and Ford . The GM engine proved suitable, and so ordered Studebaker engines (at a higher price than previously from South Bend) from the Canadian plants of GM. These were the McKinnon Chevroletsix-cylinder with 3,179 cc and the V8 with 4,638 cc.
Interestingly enough, Studebaker, although she already owned GM engines, did not opt for GM gearboxes; Instead, they were bought by BorgWarner , as they had been a long time before . With only minor changes to adapt to the McKinnon engines, the well-known and proven Studebaker mechanics, such as Overdrive , Hill Traction and Flight-O-Matic automatic transmissions, were on offer.
The Studebaker model range changed only slightly in 1965: The Commander was offered as 2- and 4-door sedan and as Wagonaire. The 4-door Cruiser sedan was available as well as the Daytona Wagonaire. Cabriolet, hardtop coupe and the 4-door sedan of the Daytona were discontinued, however. In addition to the Wagonaire, there was only the 2-door sports sedan with vinyl roof, which was derived from the 1964 Commander Special, as the 1965 Daytona. All models were equipped with a few changes as in 1964; only the Commander got rectangular headlights instead of the double headlights of the previous year.
The sales figures, however, continued to fall; less than 20,000 Studebakers were produced in 1965. Some people attributed this to the fact that the Canadian plants did not change the styling every year (this worked well for Volkswagen , but not for Studebaker, who had a long history of styling changes every year). Other people - including many Studebaker enthusiasts - felt that the Canadian Studebakers with the GM engine were simply no longer true Studebakers. The name "Chevybaker" made the rounds and reminded of the shame name "Packardbaker" of the years 1957/1958.
The 1966 Studebaker, who attested to the ad's "Smart New Look", were slightly redesigned 1965 models, despite the original policy of abandoning annual changes. The cars had a new, stylish grille, single headlights, redesigned, simplified decorations on the sides of the vehicle, a luxurious new interior (even the simplest Commander ) and other improvements. Even the famous "Hawk" logo reappeared and was visible on hubcaps and on the radiator grille and front fenders. The revision, apparently begun by Brooks Stevens, completed Detroit design firm Marcks, Hazelquist and Powers .
Bob Marcks, who later worked as a designer at Chrysler , commented in an interview in 1970 that the general opinion of both management and the design bureau was that Studebaker cars needed the image of larger cars. To accomplish this despite Studebaker's limited budget, the design office chose colors and upholstery similar to those found on the Cadillac and Lincoln models, rather than what would be expected of cheaper cars. The tasteful nylon brocade upholstery with vinyl trim in contrasting colors, which was in the Cruiser series, shows this philosophy especially.
Studebaker's latest mechanical innovation, the "Refreshaire" forced ventilation of the interior with exhaust fans in the taillights, first appeared in the 1966 models. The Refreshaire system completely eliminated the need to open the triangular windows in the front doors. The Cruiser, which was equipped since its appearance in 1961 with triangular windows for ventilation in the rear doors, forfeited this equipment with the introduction of the Refreshaire system.Under the bonnet, there was the larger six-cylinder with 3,769 cc capacity as an optional extra, but only for models with automatic transmission. Later, however, there was this engine with all three types of transmission.
The only change in the 1966 model range was that the Wagonaire was now a separate model and not a form of Commander or Daytona. The station wagon had Studebaker lettering on the front fenders and had the Commander's outboard trim and grille, but the Daytona's interior. The hardtop version was available again after a year break and the third row of seats was no longer available.
All other models, the Commander, the Daytona and the Cruiser, experienced no change. The Commander, however, received in January 1966 some additional standard equipment such as air conditioning, windscreen washer and some other.Despite styling change more advanced mechanics and expanded basic equipment sales fell noticeably, even to the bad figures of 1965. Surprisingly, the plant generated in Hamilton despite the low emissions a small profit, as its President, Gordon Grundy , wherever possible, one parte costs to to break the breakeven point as early as possible.
However, Grundy's efforts failed to convince management. Most members saw the closure of the South Bend plant as the first step towards a complete exit from the car business, but apparently they did not inform Gordon Grundy about it. Grundy, with his small crew and Marcks, Hazelquist and Powers at the facelifthad worked for the 1967 models in early 1966 turned to management with a request for an investment of less than 300,000, - US $ for new tools (a paltry sum compared to other car manufacturers). To his great disappointment, he was told that in 1967 there would be no car production. Subsequently, efforts were made to close the Hamilton plant as soon as possible. The last Studebaker, a 4-door sedan of the Timberline Turquoise Cruiser, was completed on March 17, 1966. This was the last of only 8,935 (some sources say 8,947) Studebaker, which were built in 1966.