Non-Curbside Classic: 1960 Studebaker Lark VIII Two-Door Wagon – Studebaker’s Nomad

pictures from an old classified ad

As much as I am a fan of the original (and unmolested) ’55 Nomad, the ’57 is a bit over the top, especially when it’s been messed with like the one we saw this morning. But I do have a soft-spot for two-door wagons, especially with the type of sliding rear side windows as found on the Nomad and…the 1960 Lark. So given the choice between that Chevy Nomad and this Studebaker Nomad, there’s no contest.

I’m actually quite a fan of the early Larks. I rather fell in love with the black Regal hardtop coupe I shot and wrote up for our definitive CC on the subject of foreshortened Studebakers. And I spent a fair bit of time in them in my younger days. But the practicality of a wagon always speaks to me more seductively, and this two-door is a lot more visually appealing than the four-door. So this has become the object of my desire for the day.

The Lark wagon rode on the longer 113″ wheelbase and was almost ten inches longer overall (184.5″ vs. 175″) since it used the existing wagon body, which couldn’t really be shortened in the rear like the sedan. But 185″ was still quite compact, and it made for a surprisingly roomy wagon inside. Space efficiency; that’s my thing. And the Lark has it, unlike just about any other American wagon at the time, except maybe a used ’55 Chevy.

What’s a bit curious about the ’60 Lark 2-door wagon is that it got a bit of remodeling from the 1959 version, even though that was the Lark’s first year. The ’59 had these older-style rear side windows. Still nice, but not as nice.

Of course that station wagon body wasn’t exactly new for the Lark, as it had been in use since 1953, although the Lark did rate a flatter roof. That and a 3.5″ reduction in the wheelbase at the front made for that handy 113″ wheelbase for the Lark wagon ( the sedans, coupe and convertible sat on the shorter 108.5″ wb).

There was no four door Lark wagon in 1959, but in 1960, in addition to the remodeled 2-door wagon, a 4-door wagon also joined the flock.

But it was not directly based on the ’57-’58 four door wagon. The Lark 4-door wagon had all-new longer rear doors, which is a bit curious, actually. Why not re-use the rear doors from the older wagon?

Because they already had the longer rear doors for it in the 113″ wb 1959 Econ-O-Miler taxi, which also appeared in 1961 as the Cruiser (bottom). The rear doors of the ’60 four door wagon are obviously the same as on the Cruiser/taxi, except for the window frame, which came from the 1958 President sedan. But the critical tooling for the basic door and its opening could be shared, which was money in the bank, or at least smaller losses.

True to its VIII badge, this one has the husky 259 CID V8, another plus. The Studebaker V8 was physically as big and almost as heavy as a Cadillac V8, which affected the front-rear weight distribution negatively, but a wagon always weighs more in the back end than a sedan, so here’s another reason to love the wagon. With a three-speed manual with overdrive and the 195 hp four-barrel version, this could be a blast from the past. Or maybe slip in a vintage Cadillac V8 and create a Larkillac?

This shot is from a different ’60 Lark, but in case you forgot, this is what greeted one. I like its honest and clean simplicity, even if it is a bit old-school for 1960. But that rather just adds to the appeal.

Speaking of old school, so is the rear access, via a top-hinged window and fold-down tailgate. Just like the Nomad. But that’s rather charming too, until you conk your head on the upper half trying to extricate something from the forward portion of the cargo area.

Obviously, the Lark’s rear end is no competition to the Nomad’s, especially the gaudy and finny ’57.

But the ’58 Studebaker wagon will give it a run for its money.


More Lark Goodness at CC:

CC 1959 Lark VIII Regal Hardtop Coupe: Studebaker’s Last Hurrah   PN

CC 1963 Lark Wagonaire:  A Real Vista For The Cruiser   JPC

The Studebaker V8: Punching Below Its Weight  PN