What If: 1975 Studebaker Lark

On our last visit to an alternate universe where Packard and Studebaker survived into the 1970’s, we looked at AI-generated Packard Patricians. They looked appropriate for the era, but most of them didn’t exactly scream “Packard.” Will the AI do any better at the other end of the spectrum?

The results are mixed, but at least more interesting at times. As with the Patrician, it gets the general idea right: Lark = small car. At the very least, the smaller width of the car seems to have resolved the “too many headlights” issue (though we still have a few too many turn signals and reflectors).

Overall, these first examples don’t seem particularly “Studebaker.” To me they look a bit like Hondas, or some kind of Austin. Maybe the AI is trying to tell us that Studebaker would be selling captive imports?

This is where my own notions of what Studebaker would be doing in 1975 come into play. I thought it would be likely that there would be a hatchback Lark variant, but no matter how hard I tried the the AI saw the word “Lark” and put a trunk on it. In retrospect I should have asked for a Wagonaire to at least get a wagon. Instead, I cheated a bit and asked for a “Studebaker Larkette hatchabck.” Freed of the Lark constraint, the AI gave me an awkward, rectilinear Gremlinesque thing with blue tires.

This one came out a bit smoother, albeit with some of the window weirdness I’ve come to expect from the AI.

In some cases the car was closer to a size I’d associate with a Lark (more compact than subcompact). This one reminds me of a Valiant or Dart of you ignore the oversized wheels.

This one reminds me a lot of an AMC Hornet, which would be an appropriate competitor.

There is no accounting for taste in AI-generated two-tone paint jobs. Despite the window issues, the grille on this one at least has some personality.

Moving on to the “journalism style” images, we’ve got a few more Austin/Honda-inspired Larks. Maybe it’s the style of the image, but these come off as larger cars than the ones at the top of this post.

That grille is a little fussy.

This one would fool me, but I don’t think there’s a driver…?

Needs more indicators and reflectors. We’ve got what I could imagine is a Lark grille, but the sides are very reminiscent of a Mercedes or some British cars.

Another “Larkette” hatchback, this one looking like an oversized Ford Pinto.

A four-door variant with a bit of GM flavor to the front end.

I find “concept sketch” style Larks a little less generic. This one has a bit of Vega flavor to it, but I like the grille. It almost looks like Buick got their own version of the Vega instead of the Opel.

This is fun and unique. It looks like a concept sketch for the Gremliesque Lark we saw earlier. Concept versus production reality?

The greenhouse is very light and airy on this one. The grille is cool and unique. Technically, those headlight pods are geometrically reversed, with the passenger-side one being my preference.

This looks lie a more production-ready version of the previous Lark.

The “mixed-media” style Larks mostly looked like compacts. The profile is a bit Ford-derivative, but I like the front end.

Usually this style of picture cuts back on or conceals the gingerbread, but those vents on the C-pillar are a bit much.

This looks almost mid- or full-sized. We’re getting into Commander/Champion territory here.

Not bad.

Unlike the AI images of the Patrician, the Larks weren’t as consistent about putting 5-mph bumpers on these.

This looks like a 1960’s car with a 5-mph bumper tacked on.

You could convince me that this is ab actual car. Maybe more 1965 than 1975.

When I first started playing with the “concept sketch” style I was asking for 1985 Larks, so here are a few.

They came out kind of cartoony compared to the other sketches. This one has a real Chrysler vibe.

It could be anybody’s subcompact, but I think that could be said of a lot of 1980’s designs.

“Aerodynamics are in. Let’s give it a softer grille. But keep the vinyl roof.”

Overall, I can imagine these as Studebakers. Historically, there isn’t a single visual marker that screams “Studebaker” from generation to generation in the postwar period. Who’s to say what direction Studebaker styling would have gone if they were able to invest in new designs? And even I can’t imagine some of them as Studebakers, I think a lot of these designs look correct for the era and could fool someone without the encyclopedic knowledge of the typical CC denizen.

Next time: When is an Avanti not an Avanti?