Q: Greg, how about an article on those great Studebakers from the 1950s? They sure looked different for the day and sold well. Keep those nostalgia car columns coming.
Q: Greg, how about an article on those great Studebakers from the 1950s? They sure looked different for the day and sold well. Keep those nostalgia car columns coming. Kevin L., Connecticut.
A: Kevin, I sure do remember those Studebakers from the Fifties, as lots of people where I grew up from 1949 to 1957 in Ranshaw, Pa., (aka Brady) had them.
Studebaker pretty much shocked the car industry when it debuted its' "bullet nose" front-end design in 1950, and then came along with a new V8 engine in 1951. My personal favorite from 1950-51 was the Starlite coupe, which featured a wrap-around rear window with three small pillars between the glass. This design was called the "coming and going" car, as it looked similar at both angles. Actually, the Robert E. Bourke Studebaker "coming and going" model first appeared after the war effort in 1947, sans that 1950 bullet nose.
The V8 introduced in 1951 was a 232-inch, 120-horse design and the very first overhead valve V8 from a non-big three (Ford, GM, Chrysler) carmaker. It was available in the top line Commander, while the other models relied on the trusty 170-inch, 85-horse inline 6-cylinder.
Later, Bourke devised the "European look" 1953 Studebaker, which then grew into the beautiful Golden Hawk by 1956. The Golden and Silver Hawks, the latter added in 1957, are still great designs to this day and a car that I would be proud to own.
Non-Hawk 1956 Studebakers, meanwhile, were boxy and lacked the flair of the Golden Hawk, starting a sales slide. Then in 1957 and 1958, the non-Hawk models were downright nasty and sales continued to slide to the point of bankruptcy.
Thankfully, Studebaker hit the jackpot when it shelved its 1958 design completely and replaced the same engine and chassis with the Lark body for 1959, saving the company and setting sales records. The Golden Hawk was dropped in 1959, although the great Bourke design Silver Hawk was still available.
Studebaker lasted until 1966 when a Cruiser Sedan rolled off the assembly line in Canada. Thanks for your question and a quick trip down memory lane with the Studebakers that made an impression back in the 1950s.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia or anything to do with cars at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840, or at email@example.com.