The performance market wasn’t the only one Studebaker was pursuing in 1963, as evidenced by this RHD “Rural Route” Lark. No R2 badge on its grille. More likely the 112 hp “Skybolt” six.
Wow, if I had known about these I had forgotten all about them. It is funny, the ad does not use the word “Studebaker” even once.
I notice that they even reversed the sweep of the wipers – this would not have been necessary in 62 when they still swiped opposite from each other. But since they had a decent presence in Australia the RHD setup (wipers and all) could not have been all that difficult to set up.
I now recall a number of years on a Stude FB group someone had what must have been one of these and had no idea what it was, and neither did most of the commenters.
Speaking of Australia, there’s a Studebaker who appeared in the first seasons of the Aussie tv series Homicide. They switched to Ford Falcons, Holdens and Aussie Chrysler Valiants in the following season. https://www.imcdb.org/m129685.html
Watching this television’s opening, I now understand why boredom caused more homicides in Australia than anywhere else in the world.
I bet half the folks who tuned in thought they were going to watch a television show about postal workers in Studebakers.
Well, if you wanted to watch a TV show that featured Studebakers, there was always “Mister Ed.” Wilbur, I think, had a Lark wagon and his next-door neighbor was seen behind the wheel of an Avanti.
I didn’t know that Mr. Ed was a Lark. I thought he was a talking horse!
Mister Ed was sponsored by Studebaker.
“It is funny, the ad does not use the word “Studebaker” even once.”
Hilarious. I didn’t even notice, but to me the car is instantly recognizable. And, of course, the copy writer had the same blinders on.
Was there no other page or foldout? Most advertisements and brochures have some verbiage at the bottom stating the manufacturer, their address or contact info, etc.
I love unusual rural mail vehicles. This one is my favorite below. I assume RHD Capris were imported to Canada for rural mail delivery — if the car actually made it onto a Canada Post stamp, they must have been at least somewhat common at the time. The stamp is from 1974:
Oddly, the windshield wipers are configured for LHD, and there is no mirror on the door on the right side.
Wow — I hadn’t noticed that! So maybe Capris weren’t sold as RHDs for mail delivery after all – even now, a lot of rural mail carriers use LHD cars and just slide across the seats to deliver into mailboxes. But if not, that’s an awfully odd car to use as a model for the stamp. There’s got to be a story behind that somewhere.
Wow, I’ve never seen a RHD Capri in Canada before, let alone the stamp.
Wow. That’s a tough choice for an RFD car, quite the opposite of what Studebaker was promoting with a tall stance and high seats. As correctly depicted, the deliverer likely had to frequently reach for the sky.
Canada Post just reversed the photo negative for some reason. AMC held the monopoly on postal vehicles with the RHD Matador then the Jeep CJ which made them the most popular imported USA vehicles in the UK.
EXTRA coil springs. Love it.
Our rual mail driver has a RHD Honda Odyssey. It’s an older one, I have no Idea what year, but she has driven it for years…
When I was at my in-laws’ last year, I met one of their rural mail drivers, who was driving a ’91 Whale Caprice. I talked to him briefly; he said that the car had something like 400,000 mi. on it. He lamented the fact that nothing currently on the market suits his needs as well as the Caprice.
Probably because the only vehicles left that have a bench seat are pickup trucks. A large sedan (or station wagon) with a bench seat and automatic was perfect for rural delivery since you could drive (slowly) from the passenger side and keep nearly all of the mail within easy reach in the back seat.
Last year I saw a JDM 2nd gen Odyssey north of Toronto with a Canada Post sign on the roof, and early this year I saw a Toyota Estima delivering mail in eastern Ontario. Made me miss my ’98 Odyssey. Being RHD is clearly great for those using these cars.
Are there any brands currently selling RHD models here from the factory? IIRC Subaru may have been one of the last, and they gave up on this market segment by the time they started making their larger Outback and Legacy cars in 2009-2010. I think they had an established toehold for rural delivery, since their AWD was an advantage to snowbelt customers. They were a niche brand back then, so I guess it looked useful to them to pursue the niche rural market.
What is the size of the RHD market in the US?
Does GM still produce any? I believe they did build a RHD Saturn wagon for postal use. What platforms does GM still share with US and RHD markets? The Regal TourX was one, but it is on its way out (sadly).
I don’t know about the current Wrangler, but the last generation one was available in RHD as a special order. The water company for my area and another near by each have at least one.
Jeep likely may be. I recently saw a new RHD Jeep Wrangler with dealer tags on it about six weeks back.
Jeeps are sold here new in RHD so they wouldnt be hard to source.
Good point! So I’ll have to ask the inverse….do your rural letter carriers have LHD vehicles?
I would imagine this Studebaker was simply an export model sold in the US with a different sales pitch.
Doesn’t Ford build a RHD Mustang? Think they do for Australia, not sure about UK and Japan
NZ has RHD Mustangs and Chryslers somebody stamps them out this way round.
Interesting ad and market segment to target. At first I thought it was a “Larkamino” before I realized the driver’s arm/mail was blocking the view of the rear of the car and the angle of the shot.
Purpose-built RHD rural route delivery models have been in line-up from various manufacturers for years, Subaru most recently. Studebaker was scratching for any volume they could get then, had a fleet sales program that included these Rural Route models plus others built for rough service such as taxis. A few of these still survive.
In the 1930’s, Plymouth offered a commercial two door coach fitted with 20″ wheels for high ground clearance on the rutted, rural roads mail carriers would encounter. Lifted up high, it looked like those absurd ‘donk’ sedan now with the 20″ wheels.
The orientation of RHD seems strange because we THINK that we always sit near the centerline of the road. But in fact we sit on the outside of the road about half the time, when we’re in the left lane of a divided highway or a one-way street. Not so strange after all.
On a country road the RHD wouldn’t have been necessary anyway, since the postman could simply drive on the left side with no problems.
There are many of us who spend a lot of time on two-lane roads and rarely see one-way streets. Also, I would enjoy showing you some roads in which the hills and curves would quickly show the wisdom of this Lark’s RHD.
When people take their experience and extrapolate it to the world at large, extreme caution is needed.
I may have mentioned this before but a Rural Carrier in my area had one of these with the RHD and he also had – can’t recall whether before or after – an RHD Rambler. I remember talking to him once and commenting how “neat” ( I was about 14) I thought they had been but he explained that they weren’t so “neat” when it came trade-in time. I can remember one of them languishing for years in a dealer’s lot after he traded it for a conventional Chevy.
The only recent RHD vehicle for mail delivery which comes to mind was the Jeep XJ Cherokee which I used to see in the rural areas of Maryland.
I was going to ask what other vehicles were configured in the US with RHD for mail delivery, other than these, which I vaguely remember from childhood, the ubiquitous Jeep DJ and the Subaru Legacy which was not uncommon. But the other comments help answer that question, though I’ve never seen RHD Cherokees or Matadors. With the number of RHD JDM Delicas around now, they would make a nice mail truck to help fund weekend excursions with the JDM van club.
Having grown up in the suburbs, I never saw one of these Studebakers. However, our police department had right hand drive cars for parking enforcement. The earliest cars I remember were RHD Nash Metropolitans which were used for many years, probably because there were no suitable replacements. When these finally wore out, the city then followed the USPS and purchased 3 wheelers, then postal style Jeeps, and finally in the mid-aughts, a pair of new RHD Wranglers.
Too bad they didn’t have these Larks in town in the early ’60s, that would have been so memorable; there was even a Studebaker dealer right in town.
The RHD is optional, so the only difference between the Rural Route Lark and the standard Lark is, what, thicker vinyl upholstery? The only other difference seems to be reinforced extra springs. I’d expect both of these to be in the Econ-o-miler taxi fleet cars already.
The savvy rural carriers would try to find one of the old, dedicated, sliding-door RHD Jeeps (aka Dispatcher Jeep or DJ). In fact, there might be something of a cottage industry to keep those things running since production ended in 1984, and made substantially easier with the advent of the internet.
Nothing says sexy like pitching your car as a postal vehicle.
Why didn’t Studebaker just name these cars, “Halitosis” or “Butt Salve”?
DAMN, I’n never apologizing for driving a Plymouth Valiant again!
Larks werent unknown in this part of the world and there are original survivors about so RHD cars would have been easy to build they were designed to be built both ways most cars were back then when RHD export markets existed, now those same markets are coming back.
The ’55-’56 Chevy dashboard was designed for easy LHD-RHD construction.
Full credit to Studebaker for being perhaps the most resourceful independent. Tapping so many markets niches. They deserved to live.
It’s interesting to see how far back RHD cars for postal use go. I think the local rural carriers around e use old Jeep XJ Cherokees with RHD since they were factory built. At one time Quigley 4×4 made conversions of Chevy vans and pickups to RHD and offered an extra deep driver’s side window on the vans for easier mailbox access. locally the use of multi unit boxes makes RHD less important since the last time I saw our mail carrier she was parked next to the mailbox unit working out of the back of a postal service Dodge Caravan.I think some mail carriers are using grey import Japanese vehicles
At one time Subaru had a special order program where you could factory order a US spec car with RHD.
The best info I can find is that up until production ended in 2018, a RHD Jeep Wrangler (JK) was available.
But when the new JL version replaced the JK, the RHD option was discontinued. It’s unknown how many RHD JK Wranglers got built, but a recent recall covered 11,463 of them. If that’s over the entire 12 year run of the JK, well, not exactly a lot (less than 1000 per year) and, thus, understandable why FCA declined to continue offering a RHD version of the new JL.
Looking online, I see that Rural Route Larks were offered in ’63 and ’64 only, and in 2 or 4 door sedans and wagons only. My first thought was that those body styles were the most practical and postal carriers wouldn’t be interested in pricey convertibles or hardtops, but that Studebaker would probably be willing to build you a Rural Route convertible if you wanted one, just as they’d put an R3 supercharged engine and related upgrade into a bare-bones wagon if you wanted one. But then I realized there’s a more significant reason only those three body styles were offered – the RHD cars were probably all built in the Canadian (Hamilton) plant due to the tax advantages of exporting cars from a commonwealth country, and Hamilton didn’t build hardtops or convertibles (or any non-Larks). Does anyone know for sure though where the RHD Larks were built?
This article reminds me that my great uncle was a mail carrier and had a 1963 Studebaker. I also recall him extolling the virtues of RHD, but I don’t remember if his personal car had that feature; maybe he drove one so equipped from the post office.
AMC sold hundreds of RHD 1967 Ambassadors to the Postal Service. They all had 232/2 barrel sixes.
Back in the 90s and early 2000s Ford built some RHD export model Explorers in the Hazelwood MO plant. We would occasionally see one in the parking lot of a lunch restaurant we frequented…BJ’s Pizza. I don’t think they were intended for domestic market sale though , the taillamps were different and I seem to recall reflectors in the back bumper.
Is it just me, or does the photo make it look like an El Camino-style “ute”?
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