Out for the morning fancy coffee run and came across this little gem. With a little better cropping and maybe some Kodachrome vibrancy, the picture could have been taken in 1955.
Is it just me, or does this have a real Citroen DS Wagon vibe to it from this angle?
I can’t find a good side view of a wagon, but looking at the front, you are right.
I have always thought the Studes of that era all looked sort of Citroen like from the front. They did advertise them as having a “European look” after all.
It’s also the rear wheels that are pushed back quite aways. Look at how the rear edge of the wheelwell is slightly behind the trailing edge of the roof – not common on wagons then or now. And the drooping windows and body crease.
It needs whitewalls. Not wide whites, just something to break up the wheel and tire.And the proportions prior to the A pillar are to long for the rest of the wagon. Move the greenhouse forward about 4-6 inches, and it works.
And it needs to be parked in my driveway.
This is a late-’55 model with the new fishbowl windshield which pushed the A pillars back and made the greenhouse look like it started further back than previously. The proportions looked better on the earlier ’55 models with the flatter windshield (54 shown here).
Thank you, that photo really drives it home. I know the wraparound windshield was becoming the thing, but it really did nothing for this design. And the wide whites look good on the blue wagon, but perhaps something a bit less wide would work as well or better.
Wow! Those were extremely rare when new, and nonexistent by the ’60s. When they were new, the only one in our neighborhood belonged to the manager of the local radio station who had acquired it through an advertising barter deal. (“Remote studio” sponsored by Studebaker.) Nobody bought these wagons for real family use.
This car looks so much shorter than the 1958 model, yet the greenhouse and interior are the same size (actually they pretty much are on the Lark too). This one is a later 1955 model, as the earlier builds didn’t have the fishbowl windshield.
I actually find this dumpier than the sedan, although the white accents help it some. The sedan at least looks modern for a 1953 design.
So odd that Studebaker never thought it necessary to make a 4-door wagon until, what, the ’60 Lark? Though given how awkward the B-pillars were on all their 4-door models, maybe that was for the best.
1957 was the first Stude 4-door wagon
True, but for some reason the 4 door wagon was dropped from the initial Lark lineup in 1959, only to reappear for 1960.
Had they done one it might have looked a bit like the ‘Audax’ Hillman Minx Station Wagon
I forgot about the one-year disappearance of the 4d wagon. Likewise, the Hawk hardtop was also dropped in 1959 only to reappear in 1962 with the (awesome) Brooks Stevens refresh
The reason is the ’54-’58 four door wagons were based on the old 116″ wb W-Body sedan platform. For 1960, they retooled the station wagon to the Y-Body sedan (formerly 120″ wb sedan) platform for more rear seat legroom to fit the 113″ wb chassis they had in production for the two door station wagon, Econ-O-Miler taxis and 1961 Lark Cruiser. Playing catch-up to what they should have done in 1954.
That character line should have extended right back to the tail light. Pointing it to the ground ahead of the rear wheel makes this car look even shorter than it is.
Was this Studebaker’s answer to the Nomad by Chevrolet?
3rd attempt, testing, two comments wasted.
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Two-door wagons were actually the rule, rather than the exception until the mid-50’s when Four-Door wagons took over. Even then, two-door wagons were still available into the early sixties.
I really like these, though I prefer either the 54 or the 56. Yes, the choice of 2-door-only was odd. Also odd was the choice of the short 116.5 inch wheelbase and not the longer 120.5 wheelbase of the President. 4 doors on the long wheelbase might have made for a credible wagon. And even when they got a 4 door wagon in 1957 it was still on the short wheelbase.
But all that aside this picture brings a smile to my face. Who is surprised?
It was interesting that Studebaker offered a convertible coupe from 1947-52, but no station wagon. For 1953, there were neither convertibles nor station wagons. (The convertible would reappear for 1960 as a Lark.)
Then, for 1954, it offered a station wagon, but it was only a two-door wagon.
While other manufacturers also offered two-door wagons during this era, the combination of only two doors, and use of the shorter wheelbase, really brought home that these cars were one size too small for that era. (Particularly since Chevrolet and Ford hadn’t yet started enlarging their offerings.)
And unlike Nash, and then American Motors, with the Rambler, Studebaker didn’t promote these as compact cars. One wonders who Studebaker envisioned as customers for these.
Compromises, dithering, were the order of the day for management decisions when the body style selections were being made. Two door wagons had already begun being replaced by four door wagons in buyer preference when the ’54 Conestoga came to market.
The two door wagon top shell stamping was used even when the four door wagon were developed because they couldn’t afford another completely new tooling for a panel of the proper long dimension. So rather than useful cargo space enclosed, they end up with a step on the rear. Of course, advertising tried to make a virtue out of this generally useless feature.
One thing that I’ve always wondered about…… why did the 1955 and 1956 Stude wagons use the short 1955 rear fenders, while the 1957 and 1958 Stude and Packard wagons use the long sedan fenders? That mean the fenders stuck out way beyond the rear tailgate, and necessitated the use of a foot-long filler panel to fit the gap between the bumper and tailgate.
I know, I need to get a life! 🙂
Have you see what they did to the front fenders to accommodate dual headlights? Studebaker during these years was desperate to keep up with the new competitive Detroit and Kenosha designs. Fake longer rear fenders were sad but the marketing folks demanded them.
I often wonder if they thought they just “had” to have quad headlights – since everyone else had them – why they didn’t go to stacked lights like Lincoln and some others. Surely wouldn’t have been as ungainly as those god-awful “blisters.”
I think they were trying for maximum size with minimal budget. The rear fenders were relatively inexpensive to adapt, but the back of the wagon body was not. I think the 59-60 Lark wagons used that wagon body unaltered at back.
The ’54-’56 two door wagons were 197.7″ OAL, ’57-’58 were 202.4″ OAL. That’s why the length shows up as a back ‘porch’ step.
Actually, the studebaker predates the citroen by 2 full model years…..so, the cirtoen looks like the stude, not the other way around! Sheesh, like Rodney, stude still dont get no respect!
Am I correct, Studebaker made the original 19th-century Conestoga wagons?
I believe they were the biggest manufacturer of wagons of all kinds. They definitely made covered wagons, including connestogas. They did not cease wagon production until 1920.
Yes, Studebaker started out as a wagon maker, offering several types including Conestogas.
Consider this thought, most modern ideas are based on some older ideas that never took. With the Studebaker most ideas are standard on all cars today and even a few that didn’t take are becoming revolutionary. Studebaker 1sts. 37 degree windshields, standard on most cars, Automatic transmissions, overdrive’s, Hydraulic lifters. Factory Superchargers, V8 coupes with 4 speeds. Best aerodynamics for almost 50 years. The list goes on. GMs made ugly cars in 1955, Ford were a little better and Chrysler had their forward look. Studebaker a were Bonneville salt flats racers straight from factory. See Commanders and Champions.
Even this slightly plain wagon had something cool, a back window that opened into the roof. Nobody has done better yet than that one.
Studebaker had many firsts, but automatic transmissions, overdrives or factory superchargers were not among them. Hydraulic lifters? The Studebaker V8 never used them. Which makes me doubt your other claims that I don’t have time to look up. It was an Indiana company that pioneered the factory supercharger, but you got the wrong one. It was Duesenberg in the 1920s.
Perhaps overdrive is being confused with “free-wheeling,” which Studebaker did pioneer in the early 1930s? It was short-lived, as it offered no engine braking when engaged.
Hydraulic lifters were pioneered by the 1930 Cadillac V-16.
My parents had a 1956 President wagon with a 289, 3 on the tree with overdrive. I think they bought it new after their ’52 bulletnose caught fire due to an electrical problem.
Something changed for the better by ’56, because i remember it looking like a pretty nice car with a front end that resembled an early T-bird.
It was one of 2 vehicles that moved us from New Mexico to California in 1962 and we had it until about 1964 or so when we traded it for a ’58 Mercury.
By then it had a tendency to not go into reverse due to a linkage problem.
The eggcrate grille was die cast. I recall Dad trying to straighten it all afternoon after he intercepted a low flying duck..which we had for dinner…
I liked the dash with its cyclops speedo and the fake air scoop on the fenders..photos attached show a similar car. Ours was red instead of blue and no air conditioning..that would have to wait until the Mercury’s successor.
Thanks for the memories!
How the property (27 E. William St., San Jose) looked in 2008 (Wikimedia commons):
Makeover for the current (period) restaurant’s installation. How “CC” that it used to be a garage?
Wow, that’s great! Thanks for looking that up!
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