Rockne Motor Corporation (Studebaker)
On March 31, 1931, twelve days after being appointed Sales Manager, Knute Rockne died in a plane crash. In September 1931, George M. Graham , who previously worked for Willys-Overland , became Sales Manager of the new Rockne Motor Corporation appointed. Two models were put into production: the "65" with 2,794 mm wheelbase and the "75" with 2,896 mm wheelbase. The "75" was based on the Studebaker Six, while the "65" was designed by two engineers who worked for Willys-Overland. When Willys-Overland told them they had no money to make the car, they tried to sell the design elsewhere. Studebaker CEO Albert R. Erskine was impressed with the plans and bought the car and engineering services. The "75" was designed by Delmar "Barney" Roos , Studebaker's technical director.
The production of the Rockne "75" began on December 15, 1931 in South Bend. The smaller "65" was manufactured from February 22, 1932 in the old EMF plant on Piquette Avenue in Detroit . There were built in 1927 and 1928, the Erskine vehicles. The Rockne was also produced at the Canadian Studebaker plant in Windsor, Ontario .
In 1933, the model range was slashed to a model series, the "10". The Rockne "10" was a revised "65". When Studebaker filed a settlement on March 18, 1933, it was decided to relocate the production of the Rockne in the factory in South Bend. There the Rockne "10" was built from April to July 1933.
The engine of the Rockne "65" or "10" was to replace all previously manufactured six-cylinder engines and drive cars and trucks from Studebaker until 1961.
Although the Rockne was not a success, his failure was based on the then circumstances. In 1932 depression reached its lowest level; This was not a good time to introduce a new brand name. This year, Studebaker and its affiliates lost $ 8.7 million, which would have hurt Studebaker if Erskine had not paid out high dividends in the previous three years. During this time, Erskine and Studebaker paid $ 10 million more dividends than the companies earned. Working capital dropped from $ 26 million in 1926 to $ 3.5 million in 1932. Bank debt was $ 6 million and banks wanted to see money. But Studebaker could not do that.Albert R. Erskine found himself forced out of his position at Studebaker, had $ 350,000 in personal debt, and found his Studebaker stock worthless. Since 1933 he committed on June 30 suicide . His $ 900,000 life insurance covered all his debts.