(first posted 7/4/2015) I have long had a peculiar love for the 1964 Studebaker. I am one of the few people who spent time around at least two of these as a kid, so there is surely some nostalgia involved for me. But it’s more than that. The 64 Stude was a last valiant effort by the oldest vehicle manufacturer in the world to offer a fresh, contemporary car to the buying public. It was, of course, too little too late. It was also not all that fresh or contemporary. However, this car represents the heart of a company that gave the best effort it could, given what it had available. Who doesn’t love a car that represents such dogged and stouthearted determination?
One of my very first Curbside finds was a ’64 Cruiser sedan. At the time, I considered the car a mite rough for full CC status and opted to write the car up as an Outtake. (And looking at it now, the picture quality was awful). I was quite certain of my ability to find a better example of one of my favorite cars in short order. After all, I live in Indiana, so how hard could it be? A little harder than I first estimated, as it turns out, as I have never seen another since.
Until Father’s Day weekend, when this little guy was seen parked outside of a car show I attended with my daughter. It is not the Daytona hardtop or convertible that be my first choice, but this one sort of fits in with CC’s recent two door sedan jag. And in this shot with its vintage license plate, its red white and blue sort of fills out an American Independence Day theme.
Do you know how the term “Chrysler Imperial” is like fingernails on a chalkboard to many lovers of big Chryslers? Well, “’64 Studebaker Lark” does the same thing to me. The Lark name that had served the company so well for the previous five years was banished to the basement to languish with other old nameplates like President and Dictator. Kind of. I suppose that the Lark, which had seemed so fresh and new in 1959 now seemed a bit declasse’ to a company that was trying to move the car up a level or two in size and prestige. The Lark was known to many as a cheap compact, an image that Studebaker was trying very hard to run away from as quickly as it could.
Actually, the Lark name technically applied to the lower trim lines, but the word “Lark” was not on the cars anywhere. It was, however, in the brochure ( in some places but not in others) and a Lark logo was affixed to the C pillar. The 1964 line (excluding the Avanti and Hawk) would consist of four models. At the top was the Cruiser sedan (Luxury Studebaker). Then came the Daytona (Sporty Studebaker), which came in a full line of sedan, hardtop, convertible and wagon. Next was the Commander (Regular Studebaker) and at bottom was the Challenger (Studebaker for Tightwads).
I have written before about my best friend Tim from my grade school years. His family’s driveway was StudeLand until well into the 1970s. In addition to their own family’s cars, Tim’s grandma drove a ’64 Daytona two door hardtop in the same shade of Laguna Blue as this Challenger. You might say that this car set some of my automotive tastes for years to come, if not for life. The practicality of the design, the luxurious touches of chrome here and there, and the slightly sporty touches in the interior really appealed to me.
Then there was the brown Commander sedan that Tim’s father borrowed from his brother for several weeks while the Avanti was apart in the garage for some repairs. The Commander, a six/three speed car seemed the perfect answer for one who needed a practical transportation appliance. Tim’s mother hated when we played in it, because every slam of one of the doors led to a shower of rust particles that threatened stains on her new driveway.
Until fairly recently, I had assumed that the Commander was the low-end car. But no, that was the Challenger’s job. I wonder – was it really cheaper to produce a second set of front end pieces for twin instead of quad headlights? Perhaps so. Or was this South Bend’s way of a gentle upsell for those who cared even a little about the looks of their car? Who knows.
Speaking of names, some other companies have taken some of these Studebaker names and made some pretty good cars. Daytona and Challenger have made for some pretty iconic Dodges. Then there was the Jeep Commander. Toyota still offers a Land Cruiser, too.
I do know that Studebaker made a valiant effort at making the 1964 model a car that appealed to everyone. There were plenty of people who liked luxury, or sport, or economy, or genuine near-race performance. Studebaker offered a car for each of them. Or would have, if there had not been so many compromises that lessened the car’s appeal to each of those demographics. Perhaps the company was trying to subdivide and create new demographics with the hyphenating word “practical” for each one. The advertising makes much of the full instrumentation, the flat floors and the bolt-on rear fenders. Or, more likely, Studebaker was doing it’s best to interest buyers in the automotive equivalent of day-old bread. OK, maybe week-old bread.
But really fast week-old bread, if the buyer was careful with the options list. 1964 was really the end of the road for a car like this – one that could be suited to any conceivable purpose. By 1964, the market was fragmenting. Manufacturers would offer several models, each of which satisfied a small niche and did it well, rather than one that could satisfy them all but with serious compromise. The buyers of 1964 must have agreed, because once it became clear that the new 1964 model was not selling significantly better than the 1963 before it, the company pulled the plug.
The ’64 Studebaker sort of tugs at my heartstrings the same way Rudy does in the movie of the same name. All heart, but only limited talent. But where Rudy Rudiger graduated from Notre Dame and went on to a successful life in business, the ’64 Studebaker got kicked out of it’s home right before Christmas and became a Canadian refugee. Before dying in it’s sleep two years later.
It is with apologies to my neighbors to the north that I consider the ’64 models to be the last real Studebakers. I did, after all, grow up within an hour and a half of South Bend. And just what is a Studebaker without that ancient, heavy, durable and sometimes really, really fast V8? Even these ’64s are a curious mixture of U.S. and Canadian production.
Although the Studebaker foundry stayed open long enough to supply home-grown engines for the remainder of the 1964 model year, every single car built after December 20, 1963 was assembled by the Hamilton, Ontario plant. My usual signal for Canadian cars is the all-white steering wheel instead of the two-toned piece from South Bend cars. The owner of this car has, however, swapped in an aftermarket wheel. Maybe there are other signs that would identify this car’s parentage, and some sharp-eyed reader will further educate us.
If you have not already noticed, this car has really sucked me into its little orbit. I will even admit that the thought crossed my mind to call the phone number listed on the window and inquire as to whether a straight trade of a Miata might be possible. But then I remember my stupidest-ever car trade in 1979 of a very nice ’68 Mustang hardtop for a ’59 Plymouth Fury sedan. A Miata for Studebaker might top that one. So never mind. Infatuation can do funny things to a guy.
So can a Studebaker 289 V8 mated to a 4 speed. At least I hope that’s what it is. A smallblock Chebby would just be too much for me to bear. If you want the Heartbeat of America powering your late Studebaker, well that’s what the 1965-66 Hamilton cars are for. You can do so much better! OK, maybe not with the head-cracking six that this car probably came with. Still, it would be fun to tell everyone that I just bought a Challenger. Must. Stop.
So here we leave that oddest of 1964 American cars – the one that somehow simultaneously checks all of the boxes for a car of it’s era, yet also checks none of them. But still, they tried. They really did. And it resulted in maybe the most competitive Studebaker since what, 1956? Perhaps not a huge endorsement, but all in all, it was a pretty good car. If you like that kind of thing.
1964 Studebaker Cruiser (Tom Klockau)
1964 Studebaker Cruiser (Outtake by J P Cavanaugh)
The Studebaker Sedan’s Last Decade, Magic with Leftovers (J P Cavanaugh)
Thanks to its V8 engine a Studebaker was on pole position for the annual Bathurst 1000 car race in Aussie in 1963, Grid position was decided by engine capacity not performance though.
The post-63 Studies just didn’t sell. I was a car-crazy teen at the time, and I still remember the ONLY ’64 Stude I ever saw. It was a unique and salient sighting, like a Wartburg or Panhard or something.
They (the 64 Model) didn’t sell well because Studebaker Stopped making cars in the USA in November of 1963 after only 2 months of production. Canadian Cars were imported mid 64 but it was too late, people were afraid to buy from Studebaker. It didn’t sell well because they was no time left for them.
The ’64s had a big hurdle to jump if they were to be really successful. That hurdle was the GLUT of ’63s that dealers were saddled with. For various reasons, too many ’63s were built and consequently had to be cleared out first. No dealers were gonna “floorplan” the flashy new 64s until they could clear out old inventory.
One thing I’m unclear about – after South Bend was closed down, could you still order a ’64 hardtop or convertible? I know that they were gone for ’65-’66, but did Hamilton make them earlier?
And yet, it wasn’t always the same in export markets. I was surprised to find the ’64 style was only sold for a year; they were quite a common car in Australia back then. My state police even used them as pursuit cars.
Thanks for this. These last ever Studes were very popular in Israel when I was growing up there in the 60s – we had an assembly plant at Kaiser-Ilyin in Haifa. In fact, the last new Studebakers to be built anywhere were few ones sold in Israel in 67, and what is more, they were essentially South Bend ones (all kit arrived from the US). Last but not least, Ilyn had a prototype 68 model styled in Israel but due to a number of reasons this came to nothing.
These cars MIGHT have been more successful if they had not been yet another freshening of what was now a near 6 year old car. Back then, car companies were still making fairly substantial changes to their cars after only 2 or 3 years. And the fact that these compact-sized cars were the largest offered by Studebaker (probably?) left most consumers with the impression that Studebaker wasn’t in the same league as the “Big 3”.
BTW, when equipped with quad headlights, these Studebakers actually look quite stylish and substantial (for a smallish car) while the dual headlight cars look cheap and dowdy.
I’m with you on the headlights, Howard.
> the fact that these compact-sized cars were the largest offered by Studebaker (probably?) left most consumers with the impression that Studebaker wasn’t in the same league as the “Big 3”
The mid-sized (at least in length) Hawk was larger. But without a 4-door variant on offer, it seemed too much like a specialty offering.
Studebaker almost always looked like they were body styled by two different people. The front ends were either sexy or subdued sexy or engineering type of sexy. The rear ends look like they were designed by someone afraid of style in any form. The 64 is going to make a good rat rod but you have to do something about those tail lights. They look like a piece of ledge.
It was really too bad these could not find a market as an American/Canadian Volvo 240 type vehicle. The ingredients were there. Gradual quality increases and price increases might have found a profitable balance. Especially if a volume Japanese small model was added from Isuzu has was close to happening at the time. This mainly to give dealers enough to sell.
Even all of this may not have worked. A big percentage of the kind of person who would be interested in a Volvo type car just would not have been interested if it hailed from South Bend or Hamilton. Raising their middle finger to Detroit was a big part of their buying decision.
It still is fun to play what if. A Cruiser with a economical six with a four barrlel to help it come alive, four speed with electric overdrive and the deluxe interior would have offered something Detroit only offered through their European operations. Make mine midnight blue.
Thanks for the writeup and happy forth.
The “let’s raise our middle finger to Detroit” pitch was quite successfully worked by AMC from the late-’50s to mid-’60s despite not hailing from overseas, so it conceivably could have worked here as well.
The “let’s raise our middle finger to Detroit” pitch was quite successfully worked by AMC from the late-’50s to mid-’60s
Studebaker’s problem was the company’s board of directors did not want to be in the car business. AMC’s did.
Roy Abernethy has received a lot of criticism for trying to take on the big three in the mid 60s, but the reality was there was no other choice. Once the big three invaded AMC’s turf with compacts and intermediates, there was no place for AMC to hide. You can see AMC’s attempts to find a place where there was no competition all through the 70s: first the Hornet Sportabout wagon, which was very popular and unique in it’s market segment. Then there was the Pacer, a bubble shaped urban transportation module, which failed, and the Eagle, an AWD passenger car, which met with some success.
Studebaker’s attempts at unique models were the Hawk, a lightly restyled 1953 model intended to compete with the Thunderbird, but a bit crude by the early 60s, and the Avanti: brilliant styling on a pedestrian Lark chassis, which failed spectacularly, with only some 4,500 sold.
Beautiful car with all the attributes of flat floor, perfect size, interior room, fenders removable at all four corners, console free [I’ve come to loathe all of them], simplicity and styling that still looks good 50 years later. After the 59-60 Lark, the 64s are my favorite.
I liken my 05 ION to cars like this and the 62 Rambler Classic featured earlier this week: good value, practical, the right size, long lived mechanicals, low running costs and as in the case of the Studebakers, removable fender panels, front and rear.
Of course, that all means I don’t like to drive or am not an “enthusiast” to some, too “cheap” to pay for “better”, but these qualities are timeless and Studebaker represented them well, even at the end.
This car’s attributes influence my choices today. As does the 63 Valiant I’ve owned for 30 years, a Signet hardtop with radio and heater as it’s only options.
Sad such a car was buried by the flash and marketing hype of the market of the 60s. People who bought these IMHO knew exactly what they wanted when they made their purchase, and good for them.
I guess these Studes were appealing to the market Rambler was starting to turn away from in ’64.
Wow, those filler plates on the grille…and yet I’m a fan of the ’66 Stude grille which seemed to look forward to the ’70s especially in blacked-out Daytona form.
Thanks for the very informative read! This is one of the things I love about this website, we get to remember and celebrate the oddball stuff too. As a 43 year old car nut who was obsessive about them as a child, I simply don’t remember having much knowledge of Studebakers as a kid. I knew they existed, but rarely saw one – usually the snazzy two door 50’s models that some old guy lovingly kept going.
Were Studebaker sales evenly distributed across the country or more regional? Despite claims that America is becoming homogenized I am still amazed at the significant difference in automobile buying habits when I travel.
These are a little bit popular at the Pure Stock drags, insofar that there’s more than one in attendance most years. This is an R4, which has dual quads (on a Studebaker 304, if I’m not mistaken)
Here’s the engine…
…and the badge.
Someone really needs to do a piece on the Super Larks with their R2/R3/R/4 engines. They were (and are) genuine terrors. But I have only read about them, never seen one in person.
I was telling Mrs JPC about these Super Larks and she made the Avanti connection all by herself. Could I be lucky enough that she is becoming StudeGirl? We shall see. 🙂
Hi, yes the R4 was a high compression engine, and pulled loads of torque. You say duel quads, in corrections, the quads were used on later Chrysler’s called a thermo-quad and GM used the quada-jets.
On the R3 – R4 304.5 cid fob South Bend, Indiana we’re equipped with the AFB-S3808 set up by the Paxton Performance división by Andy Granitelli. My R3 is extremely strong and fast, truly Studebaker had the most performance quality and safety built autos for many years.
Remember on the salt Andy ran the test car at 197 mph the car in reality on pavement would peak at 230 mph. Let’s face it it’s taken Ford, GM, and Chrysler 50 years to catch up. Last but not least the R3 engines
Of all 10 installed, one went to very light weight Challenger pulled 430 hp., nothing would touch them.
Nice find JPC, although as a good Hamilton boy my preferred Stude is a 65 with a 283.
I really like that Brooks Stevens 64 refresh though, that man was very good at doing the best with limited resources.
James, thanks for educating me in a big piece of Studebaker history! I must admit I really like the styling of these cars, especially the front ends.
Those are really decent cars. Nice size and driveability. We had a loaded 64 Cruiser and a 66 Commander back in the 90’s. The rumor was that the 64 was a Granatelli family car belonging to Andy’s mom. I never followed up on that and sold it a long time ago. The paradox of Studebaker being ahead of their time while doing it with way outdated bodies is going to lead to some pondering. Sad to see them gone.
I too liked the styling of these , I well remember them new , in New England if you could afford a new car , Studebakers were a popular choice .
For years after 1966 more Studie Dealers remained in New England than anywhere else .
Don Blake had one of these , it was a sharp looking reliable car and even with five or so of us kids piled into it , the 6 cylinder engine and three on the tree tranny had no problems zipping right along .
After he decided to move on to a flashier car , it did well in the local ice racing .
I guess you never forget your first one. I think that’s true because I haven’t yet and the nameplate said Studebaker. Guess you know it’s long gone when spell check keeps hitting that name with an error. Where is that time machine when you need it.
Times heals all and I don’t remember the six being a head cracker. I’m sure it was but I just don’t recall. It would have been my choice. Great find/excellent article. Sometimes I forget how good they looked. That forgetfulness is probably helped along by having been overseas most of the decade.
The head issue was only after they did an OHV conversion of the ancient Champion 170 flathead six for 1961. That was the main reason the Post Office dumped the Zip Vans so soon.
The OHV conversion had a habit of cracking the (aluminum?) head, a problem nicely solved by using the Chevrolet equivalents in the 65-66 models.I owned and drove a 64 and 66 and agree the automotive division would have been better off with a multipart niche strategy. It worked well for the Avanti II
The lowest Price 1964 Studebaker is the fleet model with no actual model name, just called Studebaker. This was below the Challenger and the Commander. I own a rare 1964 “Heavy Duty Sedan” The pictures shows the front fender which has no model name plate, just the name Studebaker. They had their own separate brochure and weren’t listed in the brochures you’ve posted.
Wow, The schooling of JPC continues. Cool! If we ever do a stripper week, we HAVE to write your car up!
Stripper Week sounds absolutely awesome! Please sign up here, and I think Paul could be convinced…
And how `bout an article on the king of the strippers-the one and only Studedbaker Scotsman!
I can’t wait to inform Mrs. Dutch that stripper week is being scheduled on the Internet. I’m sure she’ll understand.
Awesome cars and ultra rare today! I have a couple of identification / buyers guides for the 1965 and 1966 Daytona Sport Sedan (coupe’s) on my website – they were the very last of this shape – here are the links:
I was pretty impressed at How Studebaker managed to make these rather attractive at the time. German neighbors/friends of ours in Iowa City (he was a professor who drove a pristine Mercedes fintail) bought a green Daytona Coupe for his wife; with the 283. Quite the attractive car, despite its obvious genetics.
And the old retired Mennonite farmer that lived with the family that I used to spend a feew weeks with every summer bought a ’64 Challenger two-door just like this one,in pale blue. Six, three-speed, and OD. I don’t remember if it was the Stude engine or the Chevy six. But he had driven Studes forever, and this was his last one, for more reasons than one.
Nice article. Hard to imagine a time when there were five U.S. based auto manufacturers, and a handful more just 10 years earlier.
When I took to studying Studes several years ago, the ’64 with its handsome front clip (I much prefer the quad lamp version) was quite the surprise. The roofline on the two door sedans is pretty severe, and it looks like the stylist of the rear didn’t quite know how to integrate the back into the rather busy sculpting coming off the rear quarters. Probably enough misses that the refresh couldn’t make up for various product and corporate shortcomings compared to the competition.
Reviving the magic of the ’59-’63 Lark which this replaced was a pretty tall order in light of the vast amount of new competition from the Big Three in the compact / mid-size segment by 1964 – and the Mustang was just waiting in the wings for its debut at the smaller end of this car’s competition, and the Malibu was now sitting in Chevy showrooms at the larger end. Chrysler’s compacts had found their groove, and were developing a solid reputation. Even AMC’s Classic and Ambassador had become newly competitive by 1963. A very tough time to be Studebaker.
Good thoughts. Upon reflection, the 1964 GM A body may have been the biggest factor in killing this one off. It really made this one look stubby. This car would have been much more competitive in 1962 or 63.
Jp–I always love your posts…but GM A bodies? Really? Ya wanna talk stubby? Which one of these looks stubbier. In my book, the Stude looks far less pedestrian
Compared to this blah blah Chevelle
It’s grille reminds me of an appliance grate.
I agree with you – if we stick to the Chevy, which I have never been in love with. But the BOP versions of the A body were lookers. I do love the 64 Stude hardtop but I have to admit (under bright lights and hard questioning) that it looked older in its general shape than its competitors. Even the 64 Rambler Classic looked more modern (something it pains me to admit.) 🙂
The ’64 restyle was by Brooks Stevens, who wanted to also restyle the rear fenders as well as the deck lid, back panel and taillights but there weren’t funds to do so. 1964 proposed rear styling on mock-ups looks somewhat like the contemporary M-B sedans once shorn of their Rambler-like ‘fins’. The old rear fender character-lines and rounded taillight shape leftover from ’62-’63 dictated what could be done.
In addition to the extensively-refreshed competition from every quarter, the ’64’s were introduced shortly before the Kennedy assassination which curtailed auto sales in general for the latter weeks of ’63. Still to be sold were hundreds of leftover ’63 models in factory and zone inventories depressing sales on the ’64 with heavily-discounted ’63’s absorbing whatever interest remained.
Add to this, Studebaker dealers had been facing problems floor-planning (financing) new inventory for a few years as banks were becoming reluctant to loan on new cars that could become worth less than the loans if the end came suddenly. Board meeting minutes from those last years reveal considerable problems keeping highly-affective dealers handling Studebakers. Raiding by Big Three and AMC promising more volume with better-selling cars left Studebaker market coverage thin. Analysis of sales showed only a third of the remaining dealers were meeting minimal sales performance goals. Too many outlets were very small, casual operations that sold Studebaker alongside farm equipment or even household appliances, some didn’t even keep a demonstrator.
For an automaker to be taken seriously, it pretty much had to make its own engines even if transmissions and axles were sources elsewhere. Once they moved remaining assembly operation to the Hamilton plant after the complete South Bend shutdown, the GM Canada – McKinnon engines, Chevrolet-based 283ci V8’s and 194 & 230 Sixes were perfectly functional but the canary-in-the-coal-mine indication the Studebaker was on borrowed time.
The Corporation hoped that 20K units a year would meet Hamilton’s break-even, enough to allow continued operations. But only 18,588 1965’s were built, losses continued and the poor acceptance of the ’66 models made the inevitable just a matter of how long the Corporation wished to sustain those losses.
The announcement came March 4, 1966 and the last ’66 was built March 17, 1966, a Cruiser sedan that can be seen at the Studebaker National Museum now. The last Studebaker built for public sale, a Commander station wagon is displayed at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. See photo.
I think the 1966 Studebaker had a more attractive grille than the 1964-65 models. It’s an unforgivable shame that Studebaker closed its doors before most of America got to see them.
For some reason that ’66 front end looks like it should have come out of GM Europe, rather than Studebaker. Maybe it’s the fact that it resembles, in a way, a twin-lamp version of the Vauxhall VX4/90?
The 66 Stude front end reminds me of a 67 Chevy truck.
Does it? I thought it looked like the GMC truck. The 1967-70 Chevy grille is two stories, while the 67-72 GMC grille is divided into four. 🙂
I still remember the adults talking about Studebaker’s in the early ’60’s. The greatest fear about buying one was that although most thought they were still good cars, the fear was the line dying and service/resale value kept many from buying. Never knew personally anyone who’s family owned one, and never rode in a Studebaker. Mom had a early ’50’s model (before my time) with overdrive that she always said she really liked. Exact year and model are lost to time. Nice write up.
While my dad was buying a new Chevy every two years, our neighbors were a “Studebaker family.” In my father’s view that made my friend’s dad an oddball. I remember he bought a new 64 Lark and kept the thing for at least ten years. Seems a local mechanic was also a Studey fan (he owned Gran Turismo Hawk) and he kept it running all those years. Then my friend started driving it. Unfortunately, it never achieved retro-cool status. But I liked it. The car was a member of our circle of friends.
Here is the last ever Lark (that’s what it is under the new bodywork), the Israely Kaiser-Ilyin “Halutz” (pioneer). I always too always thought about the possibilities of Studebaker being kept alive were Kaiser-ilyin in better financial state; they could have bough the remains for peanuts and continued to produce the car for Israel and developing markets. And the Scepter prototypes would have been there too for 1968… I have a feeling whoever styled the Israeli prototype had seen the Scepter; to me it looks like a mixture of the above and a BMW 2000 CS.
Errr… Sorry but I only have one of those pics as a bmp (I detest that format, huge with no advantages – will have to somehow convert it…).
In the meantime, what the Israeli police used in the 60s… All locally assembled, most with straight sixes but a few pursuit vehicles had the V8, no idea what tune…
The ’64 Larks were really great looking cars, they were styled by Brock Stevens, a well known industrial designer who also restyled the Hawk Gran Turisimo. Given what was certainly a very tight budget(Bill Mitchell’s liquor budget was probably larger) he really did a great job. When these appeared in the fall of 1963 I was really smitten-I really liked their appearance and was saddened when Studebaker closed production in South Bend in December 1963. I saw a few of the ’64 Larks, but I think by the time they appeared the rumors of Studebaker ceasing automotive production had been flying around for so long people were afraid to buy one for fear of not being able to get service or parts. Still, Studebaker managed to go out with a bang as opposed to AMC which essentially kept producing Hornets/Concords/Eagles until the company finally ground to a halt and imploded.
Front-page news in many papers (not just Indiana); the JFK assassination was only a couple weeks earlier; the Sinatra (Jr.) kidnapping also a breaking story:
Two things that come to mind when I think of that last-generation Studebaker:
The billboard in San Francisco on Lombard St. (US101, just off the Golden Gate Bridge) that had a portrait of the front and “Beautiful New ’64 Studebaker”
And my uncle’s Stude, which he ditched in short order because it still handled like a 1953 chassis.
That was a big part of the problem as well, despite the new handsome body panels it was still a 1953 Studebaker under the skin.
Nice looking car,it’s often the case that when a car maker is a dead man walking they produce their best looking cars.Will have to look out for more Studebakers at shows
Anyone else notice the rubber rear window seal–sans brightwork? This certainly has a “budget” look. Is this factory kit, or indicate the owner’s in ability to source the trim?
I liked the 64 facelift, especially the front end. It is unfortunate that Studebaker finally gave it up, but given their limited resources they sure gave survival a shot and innovated until the end.
But I can’t see a Studebaker without thinking “what if?”………..
Yeah, it was basically a ’53. The last car left with straightish frame rails, hence the flat floor which they tried to make into a positive, making it a couple inches taller than it would have otherwise been for the same room inside. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was basically the 1947 frame anyway. A kingpin front suspension (I think), about a decade or more after other cars went to ball joints. Flat windows in the year of the last flat window cars except a couple of others. Nice try on the facelift, but pretty hopeless at that point.
I’ve always loved this generation Studebaker. It’s too bad it was Studebaker’s last generation before closing its doors. I’ve always found it more attractive than the 1962-63 Studebaker Lark.
My Great-Uncle had a 1962 Lark VIII four door. It was the only Studebaker I have any recollection of. Upon his death in 1970, my then 17 year old brother was offered the car. He said no, thanks. To a free car! ???
In as much as it is fun to play “what if?”, the fact remains that the parent company of Studebaker wanted out of the car business. They wanted to wind down that part of the business while limiting their liability to the dealers who sold their products. Let’s face it, government bailouts aren’t only a characteristic of our times, they’ve been happening for a long time, as far back as we had a need to keep an industry going, for whatever excuse we like to use. If there had been the wherewithal to continue in that end of the business, they likely would have found the money to do so.
I really can’t speak to the times those cars were produced, I was an infant back then. But the reality is, the competition’s cars, while nicely styled and in some regards updated, were still mostly front engined, rear drive cars with buggy springs holding up the back wheels and in some cases by 1963 were still using king pins (I’m looking at you, AMC) in the front suspension. Like the old joke says, see a row of dinghys at the dock, turn them over, they all look the same…
Technologically, there was little real difference and stylistically, they looked contemporary. There was an audience out there, but the opinion surrounding the company had been whispering rumors for so long, they were getting scared off. With all that and no support from their corporate masters, it’s not surprising Studebaker folded. I’m surprised that the Canadian operations went as long as they did.
Thanks, JPC for the wonderful dissection of this last of the Mohicans as it were. I like to think if I were in the market for a durable car in the early 1960’s, one of these Studes may have been the choice.
And curses to the people responsible for killing off one of America’s longest lasting businesses. Can you imagine if Studebaker had stayed in business until the current day? It would be 167 or so years old! It would make Daimler-Benz and Oldsmobile seem like toddlers!
As an aside: the oldest engine-manufacturer is still alive and kicking, Deutz AG.
Founded in 1864 by the inventor of the combustion engine, Nikolaus August Otto.
Johannes: Arrrrgh! I knew I was missing someone! Ah so, I was on holiday, and in holiday “mode”. I stand corrected.
No harm done….
I forgot to mention that the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2008…
a 2015 MAN
Actually at that time AMC was using ball joints in the lower front suspension and trunnions in the upper. I’ve heard trunnions described as “Satan’s idea of ball joints.” (Upper ball joints finally came to AMC in 1970.)
Nicely styled car. The “flat floor” they were boasting about didn’t do owners any favors. The roof had been lowered to a stylish level, but with no room for footwells because of the old style frame, the front seats were very low, which some people objected to. In the back, the seats were higher as there as no room for passengers to stretch their legs out and would have been folded up like a jackknife. Instead, the higher seat left them with severely restricted headroom.
I’m sure what kept people away the most was the pervading sense of impending doom as management had been draining capital out of the automotive operation and spending it on diversification for years. The PBS station in South Bend did a piece on Studebaker in the 80s and interviewed a former salesman. He said he had a woman in his office all set to sign the sales documents for her new Studie when the news flashed on a radio he had in the office for background music “as of 5pm today, Studebaker will stop producing cars”. The woman freaked “what am I going to do with this car?” He must have been a heck of a salesman, because he convinced her the media had it wrong and got her to sign the documents.
I will even admit that the thought crossed my mind to call the phone number listed on the window and inquire as to whether a straight trade of a Miata might be possible.
*gasp!* considering turning Milo out into the cold and the care of strangers after only a few months? And I thought I was fickle!
Here’s a Daytona for you. Snapped it at the Motor Muster this year. It belongs to Andrew Beckman, the archivist at the Studebaker museum in South Bend.
Of course, in his position, he knows where the choice ones are.
Somebody once told me that Studebakers were built in Israel in the late 50s and early 60`s. There seems to be very little infomation on this. Is it true,and if so, were the same American models built there too?
Seeing this only now – the answer is yes, Israeli assembled Studes were all South Bend ones having the same specifications as the US cars in general, although the last cars sold had Chevy straight six engines.
To think, there’s probably a factory supercharged Daytona Wagonaire with disc brakes and overdrive floating around somewhere…
That’d be cool! 🙂
I’ve always found the ’64 facelift to be quite attractive, with quad lamps anyway. I’d never seen one with duals before this article, and the way it’s executed does look a little low-rent. But the lack of funds to remove the sculpturing from the rear fenders made the overall design less than cohesive. Still a nice find.
A question this brings up–by the time the Lark was their product, a nominal compact, did Studebaker mainly compete with AMC? I wasn’t around back then, of course, but it makes me wonder. They were both selling small(ish) cars to buyers who didn’t follow the crowd. If one had succumbed earlier, would the other have been in a better position to compete with the big 3? Interesting “what if”.
Pretty sure this Challenger was owned by an Indy Chapter member of the Studebaker Drivers Club. IIRC, that’s at least an R-1 version of the 289 under the hood.
To my European eyes these are beautifully styled automobiles rich with period detailing. They also look very up-to-date for their era – even some Japanese cars of the 70’s adopted this square-rigged 3-box style.
But what is overlooked often is how automobiles felt and drove. On this I have no knowledge of Stude’s. But my top cars that feel good to take out that I have owned are Jaguar XK 140, Datsun 260C and Citroen AX. The latter two are by no means collectible but have the fun factor.
I drove about 4-5 of this model (one wagon one convertible, 3 sedans)By any criteria they were pretty nice midsize cars.The complaint about losing the engine foundry on the move was not relevant-other car brands did not build their own engine and lasted quite a while (Jeep and Checker are examples).In Fact I drove the SBC version and found the it was a pretty good alternative to the Chevelle.The bottom line seems to be that the Studebaker management wanted out of the auto business,preferring the MBA route of diversification and maximization of rate of return (thus the proposed redesign around 1962 was stopped).
I seem to remember seeing a 1964 Studebaker Wagonaire here in Tacoma as part of a vintage car show. It was awesome looking. 🙂
Around 1983 when I walked or biked to high school, I would sometimes see a dark blue ’64 Cruiser or Daytona 4-door sedan waiting at the light. I soon learned it belonged to someone who lived across the street from my cousin who a few blocks from my home, and next door but one from a friend’s house, though I never got to know the owner. I was quite surprised when I saw it, because it very much looked like a typical mid-’60s compact sedan, much like the Chevy II/Nova from that period, and I was previously under the impression that Studebaker wasn’t still making cars by then. I continue to be astonished at how tiny, underfunded Stude managed to restyle their ’53 bodies almost every year – something even GM and Ford didn’t bother with on their smaller cars – rather than being like AMC which kept the same styling for an eternity. In retrospect, the money spent on new styling each year might better have been spent on updating the mechanicals. In any case, I remain floored at how modern this car looked in ’64-’66 despite being a facelift of a 1953 body. I can’t imagine any amount of facelifting could make a ’53 Ford or Chevy salable in 1966.
In addition to the white steering wheel, at least one other distinguishing feature on the Canadian cars can be found on the filler panel that fills up the space for the clock if that option isn’t ordered. South Bend cars have a plate that reads “Studebaker Corporation”; Hamilton cars say “Studebaker of Canada”. Obviously this won’t work if the car in question has a clock.
I’ve long assumed part of the reason for de-emphasizing the “Lark” name was to create the impression that Studebaker fielded a full line of cars, derailing attention away from the lack of a full-size car or mid-sizers other than the Hawk coupe.
For sale: 1964 Studabaker Challanger 2 door Matching numbers car.. Please contact Dave at 519 862 5659 if interested.
If I had a chance to get back any classic car I’ve ever owned, it would be my 64 challenger sedan. it only had 78k original miles and had spent 10 years in Studebaker museum in South Bend. It was my son’s 1st car, and he learned to drive a manual on the 3-on-the-tree. It only had 2 small bubbles on trunk lid. other than that, no rust anywhere. My son and I bought it in 2005 in South Bend. It was a 1964 that was built in South Bend plant in August of 1963, before they closed the plant down Christmas Day. it had the original Studebaker 259 V-8 and ran great even started up great in the freezing cold Indiana winters. it was sold in 2008 when family moved Florida. If this cars sounds familiar, let me know. Thanks!
For Independence day this one is true blue, but is missing the red and white. I have found something to fix that.
Nice looking car. It’s unforgivable that Studebaker was no longer going to produce cars.
I always thought the ’64 Daytona and Cruiser were great looking cars. Brooks Stevens did a fantastic job on the update.
In the mid-’70s when all the US manufacturers were coming out with European-inspired sedans (such as the Nova LN), I couldn’t help but notice how similar in concept they were to the last Studes.