CJC posted this 2005 article at Turning Wheels about a custom made Stude-Benz mashup that was designed by Jack Ryan. I’ll let you be the judge.
Interesting, but I’ll let the Studebaker and/or Mercedes fans comment on the car. What caught my eyes was the reference to “How would Mattel do it?”. When I started my design engineering career in 1976 (as an intern) and 9 months later full-time, the question that young ME’s like me asked, was “How would Honda do it?”. I still remember bringing in this then-hot-off-the-press issue of Road & Track to show my older colleagues the interior details of the new Honda Accord.
Twenty years later I had managers who asked for details “like their Lexus” and within a few years, after Jobs was back at Apple and Jonny Ive led their Product design efforts, Apple became the benchmark. But in hindsight, Mattel stuff was once pretty cool.
The reference to Mattel was due to the car’s creator also being the creator of the Barbie Doll. Jack Ryan made a fortune creating the Mattel doll, and this is what he did with it. I learned about it from Jay Leno, who has a Stude-Benz with its original Chrysler 413 wedge engine.
Here’s a photo of a nice example, which is not Jay Leno’s.
Individualizing the germans never works. They live from recognizability, seriality if you like. Germans are in a way the opposite of Figoni-Falaschi or Saoutchik or Delahaye. So no – this idea was dead by arrival. It’ even reminds me of those notorious selfmade beetles with Rolls Royce front
Hermann Spohn was a custom coachbuilder in Germany,. He did an excellent job predicting the attractiveness of cars Germany would build for Chinese tastes after reunification. Here is a Veritas BMW 328 he built in 1949.
Why does this beast have 1967Nova headlights and bezels in 1949?
I suppose the real question should be why did GM copy details from the 1949 Spohn in the ’50s and ’60s?
Some of the late 30’s-40 Ford hoods sort of work on VW beetles. After all, that’s the period of its style. Plus more trunk room. Probably the prow doesn’t hurt aerodynamics much, or might even help. Of course today a completely stock one would be worth more.
That Ford grill works better on the Beetle than Aston Martin grilles work on recent Ford Fiestas, Focuses, Fusions and Mustangs. The JC Whitney Ford hood was particularly effective with the Popular Mechanics Woody wagon body kit. As for the VWs with Rolls Royce hoods, these days a VW with a Rolls Royce grill is called a Bentley and sells for a 200% premium. Harbingers of doom.
Although some of the details in the story are suspect (Packard had already been made redundant by the time the Packard Hawk came out) it is a fascinating car.
It is certainly not surprising the reaction from the M-B people – Chrysler got the same treatment in the 2000s. 🙂 Seriously, I can imagine that the M-B people would have been aghast at the idea of a non-Benz Benz.
Why would MB want to fund a car that crudely imitates their own 190SL? It’s like Rolls paying Mitsuoka to make the Galue.
I don’t care for the exterior design – a stock ’62-’64 Hawk looks better – but the interior and especially the dash is 100 (as the kids nowadays would say, or more accurately would type using the “100” emoji).
I always thought the Hawk windshield and cowl area, as well as the grille, headlights, and hood, looked like they were from either a prewar American car or a 1950s European car, so I’m not surprised the front section of this car works best.
Other than being wood instead of engine turned metal the dash is pretty much stock. The integrated AC is of course not integrated, just not a box in the middle. Studebaker/Lark never had integrated AC, although they changed the system to get rid of the little front fender doors finally in the last years although not on the Hawk.
I thought they had added some padding around it too. Maybe not.
Agree! Even though the intentions may have been noble, this looks like a pastiche and not a professional piece of design….
I prefer Raymond Loewys original, its an interesting mashup but it doesnt quite work.
I still have the January 1981 Car Collector magazine that is referenced in this article. I found this story fascinating back then. It’s nice to have a 40 years later update that the car still exists. Studebaker was enthusiastic about the idea but Mercedes was not. Then why not put a Packard tombstone grille on it and call it a Packard. It wouldn’t return Packard to its once proud position, but it could have been a low production exclusive luxury car, similar to later Stutz Bearcats.
Is there really only the one survivor? Jay Leno has one waiting for restoration, which is NOT a high priority of his. I could swear he said they made about six cars, Is his the only one, meaning it is the one that was in fine condition fifteen years ago? Why would it fall into neglect again?
Unless I’m mistaken, the six cars that you refer to were only proposed to be built but never were. Two were built but one was destroyed the the LA Watts riot. Jay Leno has a very fine collection of cars but I’ve found that his his historical recollections usually need to be fact checked.
Here’s another 1959 project derived from Studie.
You can see the elegant Packard Hawk influence in the graceful lines of this stunningly beautiful machine.
It’s 10x less ugly than a normal Hawk
I think that Brook Steven’s GT update is more honest and better looking.
Agreed. And, if this had come out by 1960, instead of 1962, and naming conventions of the coupe made less confusing with other Studebaker models, this car would have made a more interesting alternative to the Thunderbird of the era.
I wonder if the article subject car had any influence on this? (The article was a bit long and dry for me if it was mentioned).
There was another, and perhaps more seriously considered, attempt to revive Packard, using a lightly modified Facel-Vega. Supposedly, M-B put the kibosh on that as well, telling Studebaker that they would not take kindly to another European luxury car being marketed alongside the Benz.
Images of magazine article in wrong order. #4 should be #2.
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