STUDEBAKER – E-M-F – ERSKINE – ROCKNE South Bend Indiana USA 1852 – 1967


Studebaker Corporation
Industry Vehicle manufacture
Founded February 1852
Founders Studebaker brothers (pictured below)
Defunct May 1967
Headquarters South Bend, Indiana, USA
Products Automobiles
historic wagons, carriages, buses and harness
Parent Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company

1917 Studebaker logo

Studebaker “turning wheel” badge on cars produced 1912–1934

Studebaker (1852-1967, /ˈst(j)dəbkə/ stew-də-bay-kər) was a United States wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the military.

1902 Studebaker advertisement 1902 Studebaker 1903 studebaker electric 1 1904 Studebaker Victoria Phaeton 1905StudebakerElectricAd1 1906 Studebaker 1908 STUDE Elec 4 8 p 413 truck XX 1909 studebaker elec model 22 1911 Studebaker electric car

Studebaker entered the automotive business in 1902 with electric vehicles and in 1904 with gasoline vehicles, all sold under the name “Studebaker Automobile Company”. Until 1911, its automotive division operated in partnership with the Garford Company of Elyria, Ohio and after 1909 with the E-M-F Company. The first gasoline automobiles to be fully manufactured by Studebaker were marketed in August 1912. Over the next 50 years, the company established an enviable reputation for quality and reliability. After years of financial problems, in 1954 the company merged with luxury carmaker Packard to form Studebaker-Packard Corporation. However, Studebaker’s financial problems were worse than the Packard executives thought. The Packard marque was phased out and the company returned to the Studebaker Corporation name in 1962. The South Bend plant ceased production on December 20, 1963 and the last Studebaker automobile rolled off the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, assembly line on March 16, 1966.


1910 Studebaker


19th-century wagonmaker

1912 E-M-F Model 30 Roadster 1912

1912 E-M-F Model 30 Roadster 1912

German forebears

1913 Studebaker


According to the official Studebaker history written by Albert R. Erskine, History of the Studebaker Corporation, South Bend, Indiana, published in 1918, “The ancestors of the Studebaker family first arrived in America at the Port of Philadelphia on September 1, 1736, on the ship Harle, from Rotterdam, Holland, as shown by the original manuscripts now in the Pennsylvania State Library at Harrisburg, and included Peter Studebecker, age 38 years; Clement Studebecker, age 36 years; Henry Studebecker, age 28 years; Anna Margetha Studebecker, age 38 years; Anna Catherine Studebecker, age 28 years. The last part of the name, “becker,” was afterwards changed to “baker.” The tax list of what was then Huntington Township, York County, Pennsylvania, in 1798-9, showed among the taxable were Peter Studebaker, Sr., and Peter Studebaker, Jr., wagon-makers, which trade later became the foundation of the family fortune and the corporation which now bears the name.

1916 Studebaker SF Tourer a 1916 Studebaker SF Tourer

1916 Studebaker SF Tourer

In Albert Russel Erskine‘s official history, John Studebaker, father of the five brothers, born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, was the son of Peter Studebaker. Anyone with interest can view the pages of Erskin 1918 annual report on Bakers Lookout exhibit page for Albert R. Erskine.

1916 Studebaker 16 pass. winnipeg-WEC101-104buses-crmw

1916 Studebaker 16 pass. winnipeg Buses1916 Studebaker Speedster 1916 Studebaker Touring

In any event, John Studebaker (1799–1877) moved to Ohio in 1835 with his wife Rebecca (née Mohler) (1802–1887)—and taught his five sons to make wagons. They all went into that business as it grew to gigantic proportions with the country.

The five brothers

The five Studebaker brothers—founders of the Studebaker Corporation. Left to right, (standing) Peter and Jacob; (seated) Clem, Henry, and John M.

1916 Studebaker Speedster


The five sons were, in order of birth: Henry (1826–1895), Clement (1831–1901), John Mohler (1833–1917), Peter Everst (1836–1897) and Jacob Franklin (1844–1887). The boys had five sisters. Photographs of the brothers and their parents are reproduced in the 1918 company history, which was written by Erskine after he became president, in memory of John M., whose portrait appears on the front cover.

South Bend operation

1916 Studebaker Touring


Clement and Henry Studebaker, Jr., became blacksmiths and foundrymen in South Bend, Indiana, in February 1852. They first made metal parts for freight wagons and later expanded into the manufacture of complete wagons. At this time, John M. was making wheelbarrows in Placerville,California. The site of his business is California Historic Landmark #142.

1916 Studebaker


The first major expansion in Henry and Clem’s South Bend business came from their being in the right place to meet the needs of the California Gold Rush that began in 1849.

1918 Studebaker Ambulance by Armstrong & Hotson emergency

1918 Studebaker Ambulance by Armstrong & Hotson emergency

1918 Studebaker RHTCbus


From his wheelbarrow enterprise at Placerville, John M. had amassed $8,000. In April 1858, he quit and moved out to apply this to financing the vehicle manufacturing of H & C Studebaker, which was already booming because of a big order to build wagons for the US Army. In 1857, they had also built their first carriage—”Fancy, hand-worked iron trim, the kind of courting buggy any boy and girl would be proud to be seen in”.

1919 Studebaker


1919 Studebaker WECo 16 seats Winnipeg

1919 Studebaker WECo 16 seats Winnipeg

That was when John M. bought out Henry’s share of the business. Henry was deeply religious and had qualms about building military equipment. The Studebakers were Dunkard Brethren, conservative German Baptists, a religion that viewed war as evil. Longstreet’s official company history simply says “Henry was tired of the business. He wanted to farm. The risks of expanding were not for him”. Expansion continued from manufacture of wagons for westward migration as well as for farming and general transportation. During the height of westward migration and wagon train pioneering, half of the wagons used were Studebakers. They made about a quarter of them, and manufactured the metal fittings for other builders in Missouri for another quarter-century.

1920 Studebaker a 1920 Studebaker


The fourth brother, Peter E, was running a successful general store at Goshen which was expanded in 1860 to include a wagon distribution outlet. A major leap forward came from supplying wagons for the Union Army in the Civil War (1861–65). By 1868, annual sales had reached $350,000. That year, the three older brothers formed the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company—Clem (president), Peter (secretary), and John M. (treasurer). By this time the factory had a spur line to the Lake Shore railroad and, with the Union Pacific Railroad finished, most wagons were now dispatched by rail and steamship.

1921 Studebaker 2 1921 Studebaker Nwk

1920 NL

World’s largest vehicle house

Studebaker wagon hauled by eight Budweiser Clydesdales in Wisconsin, 2009

In 1875, the youngest brother, 30-year-old Jacob, was brought into the company to take charge of the carriage factory, making sulkies and five-glass landaus. Following a great fire in 1874 which destroyed two-thirds of the entire works, they had rebuilt in solid brick, covering 20 acres (81,000 m2) and were now “The largest vehicle house in the world”.[8]:p.43 Customers could choose from Studebaker sulkies, broughams, clarences,phaetons, runabouts, victorias, and tandems. For $20,000 there was a four-in-hand for up to a dozen passengers, with red wheels, gold-plated lamps and yellow trim.

1922 Studebaker a 1922 Studebaker b 1922 Studebaker c 1922 Studebaker d 1922 Studebaker e 1922 Studebaker


1922 Studebaker Big Six Child's Hearse 1922 Studebaker Child's Hearse

In the 1880s, roads started to be surfaced with tar, gravel, and wooden blocks. In 1884, when times were hard, Jacob opened a carriage sales and service operation in a fine new Studebaker Building on Michigan Avenue, Chicago. The two granite columns at the main entrance, 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) in diameter and 12 feet 10 inches (3.91 m) high, were said to be the largest polished monolithic shafts in the country. Three years later in 1887, Jacob died—the first death among the brothers.

1923 Studebaker

1923 Studebaker van Maessen

1923 Studebaker van Maessen NL

In 1889, incoming President Harrison ordered a full set of Studebaker carriages and harnesses for the White House. The only issue was that the harness fell apart during a ride and all of the horses escaped. As the twentieth century approached, the South Bend plant “covered nearly 100 acres (0.40 km2) with 20 big boilers, 16 dynamos, 16 large stationary engines, 1000 pulleys, 600 wood- and iron-working machines, 7 miles (11 km) of belting, dozens of steam pumps, and 500 arc and incandescent lamps making white light over all”.

1924 studebaker amb 3 1924 studebaker ambulance 2

1924 Studebaker Ambulance-Hearse-Policecar

1924 Studebaker bus in Wassenaar Voor de oorlog 42

1924 Studebaker Buses in Wassenaar Holland

1924 Studebaker Gotfredson bus4

1924 Studebaker bus Gotfredson

The worldwide economic depression of 1893 caused a dramatic pause in sales and the plant closed down for five weeks, but industrial relations were good and the organized workforce declared faith in their employer.

1925 Studebaker Bender Bus


1925 Studebaker body5 9litre6cyl 1925 Studebaker Bus a


1925 Studebaker Bus Catalog-01 1925 Studebaker Bus Catalog-08


1925 Studebaker Bus


1925 Studebaker van Kerckhoffs, die is ingebracht in de VAD-Central1925-studebaker-van-kerckhoffs-die-is-ingebracht-in-de-vad-central 1 NL

1925 Studebaker Police Paddy Wagon.

1925 Studebaker Police Paddy Wagon.

The impressive wagons pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales are Studebaker wagons modified to carry beer, originally manufactured circa 1900.

Family association continues

The five brothers died between 1887 and 1917 (John Mohler was the last to die). Their sons and sons-in-law remained active in the management, most notably lawyer Fred Fish after his marriage to John M’s daughter Grace in 1891. Col. George M Studebaker, Clement Studebaker Jr, J M Studebaker Jr, and [Fred Sr’s son] Frederick Studebaker Fish served apprenticeships in different departments and rose to important official positions, with membership on the board. Erskine adds sons-in-law Nelson J Riley, Charles A Carlisle, H D Johnson, and William R Innis.

1926 studebaker hearse

1926 Studebaker Hearse

1926 Studebaker Six Duplex Phaeton


1926 Studebaker Bus (middle) in Manitoba


1926 studebaker camperbus ad mbldg forum

1926-studebaker-camperbus-ad-mbldg-forum © Richard Zuinn

1926 STUDEBAKER Pennock

1926 Studebaker Carr. Pennock The Hague The Netherlands

1926 Studebaker Six Duplex Phaeton


1926 Studebaker Taxi lede 1926 Studebaker taxi 1926 StudeTaxi

Studebaker automobiles 1897–1911

In the beginning

In 1895, John M. Studebaker’s son-in-law Fred Fish urged for development of ‘a practical horseless carriage’. When, on Peter Studebaker’s death, Fish became chairman of the executive committee in 1897, the firm had an engineer working on a motor vehicle. At first, Studebaker opted for electric (battery-powered) over gasoline propulsion. While manufacturing its own Studebaker Electric vehicles from 1902 to 1911, the company entered into body-manufacturing and distribution agreements with two makers of gasoline-powered vehicles, Garford of Elyria, Ohio, and the Everitt-Metzger-Flanders (E-M-F) Company of Detroit and Walkerville, Ontario). Studebaker began making gasoline-engined cars in partnership with Garford in 1904.


1908 Studebaker-Garford B limousine

1908 Studebaker-Garford B limousine

1912 Studebaker Bus

1912 Studebaker bus

Under the agreement with Studebaker, Garford would receive completed chassis and drivetrains from Ohio and then mate them with Studebaker-built bodies, which were sold under the Studebaker-Garford brand name at premium prices. Eventually, vehicles with Garford-built engines began to carry the Studebaker name. Garford also built cars under its own name and, by 1907, attempted to increase production at the expense of Studebaker. Once the Studebakers discovered this, John Mohler Studebaker enforced a primacy clause, forcing Garford back on to the scheduled production quotas. The decision to drop the Garford was made and the final product rolled off the assembly line by 1911, leaving Garford alone until it was acquired by John North Willys in 1913.



Studebaker’s agreement with the E-M-F Company, made in September 1908 was a different relationship, one John Studebaker had hoped would give Studebaker a quality product without the entanglements found in the Garford relationship, but this was not to be. Under the terms of the agreement, E-M-F would manufacture vehicles and Studebaker would distribute them exclusively through its wagon dealers.

1909 auto show emfs 1909 EMF 30 DV 05 HH 01 1909 EMF

E-M-F 1909

The E-M-F gasoline-powered cars proved disastrously unreliable, causing wags to say that E-M-F stood for Every Morning Fix-it, Easy Mark’s Favorite, and the like. Compounding the problems was the infighting between E-M-F’s principal partners, Everitt, Flanders, and Metzger. Eventually in mid-1909, Everitt and Metzger left to start a new enterprise. Flanders also quit and joined them in 1912 but the Metzger Motor Car Co could not be saved from failure by renaming it the Flanders Motor Company.

1910 EMF Model 30 1910 EMF Model 30a 1910 EMF 1910 road race emf

E-M-F 1910

1911 EMF Demi Tonneau 1911 EMF factory team race car 1911 EMF Model 30 1911 EMF 1911emf-tr

E-M-F 1911

Studebaker’s president, Fred Fish, had purchased one-third of the E-M-F stock in 1908 and followed up by acquiring all the remainder from J. P. Morgan in 1910 and buying E-M-F’s manufacturing plants at Walkerville, Ontario, Canada, and across the river in Detroit.

1912 EMF Model 30 Roadster 1912 EMF Model 30a 1912 Studebaker Flanders Roadster 1912emf2 EMF 30 Fore-door E-M-F 's la-car-concours-mercer-and-emf

E-M-F 1912

emf_logo EMF_teideman_winners emf-cartour16-copy EMFPackardWeb-Large emfs drake well free transheader

Studebaker marque established in 1911

Studebaker Dealer Neon

In 1910, it was decided to refinance and incorporate as the Studebaker Corporation, which was concluded on 14 February 1911 under New Jersey laws. The company discontinued making electric vehicles that same year. The financing was handled by Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs who provided board representatives including Henry Goldman whose contribution was especially esteemed.


1927 Studebaker Bus 1927 Studebaker Hearse 1927 Studebaker 1927 Studebaker-bus-no29-1927

After taking over E-M-F’s facilities, Studebaker sought to remedy the customer dissatisfaction by paying mechanics to visit each disgruntled owner and replace defective parts in their vehicles, at a total cost of US$1 million. The worst problem was rear-axle failure. Hendry comments that the frenzied testing resulted in Studebaker’s aim to design ‘for life’—and the consequent emergence of “a series of really rugged cars… the famous Big and Special Sixes”. From that time, Studebaker’s own marque was put on all new automobiles produced at the former E-M-F facilities as an assurance that the vehicles were well built.

Engineering advances from WWI

The corporation benefited from enormous orders cabled by the British government at the outbreak of World War I. They included 3,000 transport wagons, 20,000 sets of artillery harness, 60,000 artillery saddles, and ambulances, as well as hundreds of cars purchased through the London office. Similar orders were received from the governments of France and Russia.


1928 Studebaker ah 1928 Studebaker Bus at the Battle Creek Sanitarium a 1928 Studebaker Bus at the Battle Creek Sanitarium 1928 Studebaker Bus at the Battle Sanitarium Bus 1928 Studebaker Bus in Colorado 1928 Studebaker by 7 1928 Studebaker Rack Side Flatbed Truck 1928 studebaker superior 1928 Studebaker.19281930.type.D5521.carr.JanKarsijns.rezij

The 1913 six-cylinder models were the first cars to employ the important advancement of monobloc engine casting which became associated with a production-economy drive in the years of the war. At that time, a 28-year-old university graduate engineer, Fred M. Zeder, was appointed chief engineer. He was the first of a trio of brilliant technicians, with Owen R. Skelton and Carl Breer, who launched the successful 1918 models, and were known as “The Three Musketeers“. They left in 1920 to form a consultancy, later to become the nucleus of Chrysler Engineering. The replacement chief engineer was Guy P. Henry, who introduced molybdenum steel, an improved clutch design, and presided over the six-cylinders-only policy favored by new president Albert Russel Erskine who replaced Fred Fish in July 1915.

End of horse-drawn era

John M. Studebaker had always viewed the automobile as complementary to the horse-drawn wagon, pointing out that the expense of maintaining a car might be beyond the resources of a small farmer. In 1918, when Erskine’s history of the firm was published, the annual capacity of the seven Studebaker plants was 100,000 automobiles, 75,000 horse-drawn vehicles, and about $10,000,000 worth of automobile and vehicle spare parts and harness.


1929 Studebaker 15 Passenger Bus 1929 Studebaker Coach 1929 Studebaker Commander Superior Samaritan [FD] 1929 Studebaker Commander Superior 'Samaritan' Ambulance 1929 studebaker presdent straight eight roadster for four 1929 Studebaker President Eight Roadster 1929 studebaker property of my grandfather 1929 Studebaker RV 1929 studebaker

In the preceding seven years, 466,962 horse-drawn vehicles had been sold, as against 277,035 automobiles, but the trend was all too clear. The regular manufacture of horse-drawn vehicles ended when Erskine ordered removal of the last wagon gear in 1919. To its range of cars, Studebaker would now add a truck line to replace the horse-drawn wagons. Buses, fire engines, and even small rail locomotive-kits were produced using the same powerful six-cylinder engines.

First auto proving ground

In 1925, the corporation’s most successful distributor and dealer Paul G. Hoffman came to South Bend as vice-president in charge of sales. In 1926, Studebaker became the first automobile manufacturer in the United States to open a controlled outdoor proving ground on which, in 1937, would be planted 5,000 pine trees in a pattern that spelled “STUDEBAKER” when viewed from the air. Also in 1926, the last of the Detroit plant was moved to South Bend under the control of Harold S Vance, vice-president in charge of production and engineering.


1930 Studebaker brandweerwagen victoria 1930 Studebaker Bus 1930 Studebaker Commander Eight Brougham 1 1930 Studebaker Commander Eight Brougham 1930 Studebaker Hearse or Ambulance 1930 studebaker president coupe 1930 studebaker President Sedan 1930 Studebaker unknown

That year, a new small car, the Erskine Six was launched in Paris, resulting in 26,000 sales abroad and many more in America. By 1929, the sales list had been expanded to 50 models and business was so good that 90 per cent of earnings were being paid out as dividends to shareholders in a highly competitive environment. However, the end of that year ushered in the Great Depression that saw many layoffs and massive national unemployment for several years.

Facilities in the 1920s

Studebaker’s total plant area was 225 acres (0.91 km2), spread over three locations, with buildings occupying seven-and-a-half million square feet of floor space. Annual production capacity was 180,000 cars, requiring 23,000 employees.

The original South Bend vehicle plant continued to be used for small forgings, springs, and making some body parts. Separate buildings totaling over one million square feet were added in 1922–23 for the Light, Special, and Big Six models. At any one time, 5,200 bodies were in process. South Bend’s Plant 2 made chassis for the Light Six and had a foundry of 575,000 sq ft (53,400 m2), producing 600 tons of castings daily.


1931 Studebaker ambulance by finhead4ever 1931 Studebaker citiWeasel Simnet is Sodins 1931 studebaker Commander Eight Regal Brougham 1931 studebaker president 4season convertible roadster studebaker 1930 1931 Studebaker President Coupe 1931 Studebaker President Eight All Seasons Convertible Roadster 1931 Studebaker President Eight Four-Seasons Roadster 1931 Studebaker President Eight Largest 1931 Studebaker President Four Seasons Convert Roadster 1931 Studebaker President 1931 Studebaker Presidential Coupe Invalid Coach 1 1931 Studebaker School Coach Chino Valley School 1931 Studebaker S-series School Coach Crown Motor Carriage bus 1931 studebaker the wheel 1931 studebaker towtruck BO

Plant 3 at Detroit made complete chassis for Special and Big Six models in over 750,000 sq ft (70,000 m2) of floor space. Plant 5 was the service parts store and shipping facility, plus the executive offices of various technical departments. All of the Detroit facilities were moved to South Bend in 1926.

Plant 7 was at Walkerville, Canada, where complete cars were assembled from South Bend, Detroit, and locally-made components for the Canadian and British Empire (right-hand-drive) trade. By locating it there, Studebaker could advertise the cars as “British-built” and qualify for reduced tariffs. This manufacturing facility had been acquired from E-M-F in 1910 (see above). By 1929, it had been the subject of $1.25 million investment and was providing employment that supported 500 families.

Impact of the 1930s depression

Few industrialists were prepared for the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. Though Studebaker’s production and sales had been booming, the market collapsed and plans were laid for a new, small, low-cost car—the Rockne. However, times were too bad to sell even inexpensive cars. Within a year, the firm was cutting wages and laying off workers, but not quickly enough. Erskine maintained faith in the Rockne and rashly had the directors declare huge dividends in 1930 and 1931. He also acquired 95% of the White Motor Company‘s stock at an inflated price and in cash. By 1933, the banks were owed $6 million, though current assets exceeded that figure. Instead of reorganizing in receivership, Albert R. Erskine committed suicide, leaving it to successors Harold Vance and Paul Hoffman to deal with the problems.


1932 Studebaker beer truck model S-3 1932 Studebaker Commander Ambulance 1932 Studebaker Convertible Roadster 1932 Studebaker Convertible Sedan 1932 Studebaker model S-8 truck

© Ken Goudy Collection

1932 Studebaker President Amb 1932 studebaker president convert 1932 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan 1932 Studebaker President Eight Convertible Sedan 1932 Studebaker President Eight Limousine 1932 Studebaker President Eight St Regis Brougham For Five 1932 studebaker president eight 1932 Studebaker President Sedan Seven Pass 1932 Studebaker President Sedan 1932 Studebaker Roadster

By December 1933, the company was back in profit with $5.75 million working capital and 224 new Studebaker dealers. With the substantial aid of Lehman Brothers, full refinancing and reorganization was achieved on March 9, 1935. A new car was put on the drawing boards under chief engineer Delmar “Barney” Roos—the Champion. Its final styling was designed byVirgil Exner and Raymond Loewy. The Champion doubled the company’s previous-year sales when it was introduced in 1939.

World War II

From the 1920s to the 1930s, the South Bend company had originated many style and engineering milestones, including the Light Four, Light Six,Special Six, Big Six models, the record-breaking Commander and President, followed by the 1939 Champion. During World War II, Studebaker produced the Studebaker US6 truck in great quantity and the unique M29 Weasel cargo and personnel carrier.


1933 Studebaker 2 Ton owned by Borden Associated Companies and being used for hauling Furnas-Velvet Ice-cream

© Ken Goudy Collection

1933 Studebaker 2 Ton owned by Borden Associated Companies

© Ken Goudy Collection

1933 Studebaker 2 Ton

© Ken Goudy Collection

1933 STUDEBAKER 2 TONNES 1933 studebaker 45 limousine 1933 Studebaker Ad 1933 Studebaker Commander Convertible Roadster 1933 studebaker Commander Four Pass Coupe 1933 studebaker ER standard Six hearse 1933 STUDEBAKER g 1933 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan Model 92 Speedway 1933 Studebaker Tractor

Studebaker ranked 28th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. After cessation of hostilities, Studebaker returned to building automobiles that appealed to average Americans.

Post-WWII styling

1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner, showing the streamlined design of the 1950s Studebaker


1934 studebaker  commander regal 8 convert pennock 1934 Studebaker  PresidentCustomSedanSix-pass 1934 studebaker CommanderCustomSedan-YearAhead 1934 studebaker dictator convert 1934 studebaker Dictator&Commander 1934 studebaker DictatorCustomSedan 1934 Studebaker DictatorStRegis-YearAhead 1934 studebaker ff80 1934 studebaker hearse 1934 Studebaker Land Cruiser a 1934 studebaker land cruiser 1934 Studebaker LandCruiser 1934 Studebaker President tyl 1934 studebaker President 1934 studebaker susp 1934 Studebaker Trucks 1934 studebaker tyl

Studebaker prepared well in advance for the anticipated post-war market and launched the slogan First by far with a post-war car. This advertising premise was substantiated by Virgil Exner‘s designs, notably the 1947 Studebaker Starlight coupé, which introduced innovative styling features that influenced later cars, including the flatback “trunk” instead of the tapered look of the time, and a wrap-around rear window. Exner’s concepts were spread through a line of models like the 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe The new trunk design prompted a running joke that one could not tell if the car was coming or going.

Hamilton, Ontario plant

On August 18, 1948, surrounded by more than 400 employees and a battery of reporters, the first vehicle, a blue Champion four-door sedan, rolled off of the Studebaker assembly line in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


1935 Brandweer Trucks Studebaker B-8467f 1935 Studebaker ACE truck A 1935 Studebaker ambulance 1935 Studebaker Beer Transport 1935 studebaker commander eight convert 1935 Studebaker Dictator 018 Hood 1935 studebaker ff1 1935 studebaker ff3 1935 Studebaker President 8 Convertible Roadster 1935 Studebaker President Custom Sedan Six Pass 1935 Studebaker President Land Cruiser 1935 studebaker president 1935 Studebaker tao53 1935 Studebaker-commander

The company was located in the former Otis-Fenson military weapons factory offBurlington Street on Victoria Avenue North, which was built in 1941. Having previously operated its British Empire export assembly plant at Walkerville, Ontario, Studebaker settled on Hamilton as a post-war Canadian manufacturing site because of the city’s centrality to the Canadian steel industry.

Industry price war brings on crisis

Studebaker’s strong post-war management team including president Paul G Hoffman and Roy Cole (vice-president, engineering) had gone by 1949 and was replaced by more cautious executives who failed to meet the competitive challenge brought on by Henry Ford II and his Whiz Kids.


1936 Autocar and Studebaker Trucks 1936 brandweer trucks studebaker 2W657 fireengine 1936 coca-cola_truck_studebaker_1936 1936 Studebake Ace Cab Forward 1936 Studebaker 2 M 1936 studebaker 2m Toronto Daily Star 1936 Studebaker 2M2 Kenwood Van Tractor Truck 1936 Studebaker 2M225 Marion Autobody Chicago 1936 studebaker 2m225cc 1936 studebaker 2mb6 1936 studebaker 2mgv 1936 Studebaker 2MTA 1936 studebaker 2T2panel 1936 studebaker 2T233 Police 1936 studebaker 2t233b 1936 studebaker 2w865 tractor 1936 studebaker 2wpe 1936 Studebaker 6x6 winch truck rare 1936 Studebaker a 1936 Studebaker AH  Speedway 1936 Studebaker bus in front of New World in Kerikeri  New Zealand 1936 Studebaker Cabine semi-avance type Metro 1936 DSCN8287 1936 Studebaker CF 1936 studebaker Chicago 1936 studebaker COE John T Norton 1936 Studebaker Coe Milkman 1936 Studebaker COE with a W&K semi-enclosed car hauler 1936 studebaker COE 1936 Studebaker Dictator Coupe 1936 studebaker ff7 1936 studebaker ff9 1936 STUDEBAKER h 1936 Studebaker Metro 2M2 Ace and 2M6 Boss 1936 Studebaker President Cruising Sedan 1 1936 Studebaker President Cruising Sedan 2 1936 Studebaker President Cruising Sedan 3 1936 Studebaker rhd 1936 Studebaker Sears 1936 Studebaker truck and trailer at the Westside Auto Frieght Depot in Portland

© Ken Goudy Collection

1936 Studebaker vrachtauto 1936 Studebaker 1936 Studebaker-2M101-Boss 1936 studebaker2W657 fireengine BO 1936 studebaker-trucks-time 1936_Dearborn6 1936-Studebaker-2M201-COE-Union-Van-Tractor-Truck

Massive discounting in a price war between Ford and General Motors could not be equalled by the independent carmakers, for whom the only hope was seen as a merger of Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, and Nash into a third giant combine. This had been unsuccessfully attempted by George W. Mason. In this scheme, Studebaker had the disadvantage that its South Bend location would make centralization difficult. Its labor costs were also the highest in the industry.

Merger with Packard

Ballooning labor costs (the company had never had an official United Auto Workers [UAW] strike and Studebaker workers and retirees were among the highest paid in the industry), quality control issues, and the new-car sales war between Ford and General Motors in the early 1950s wreaked havoc on Studebaker’s balance sheet. Professional financial managers stressed short-term earnings rather than long-term vision. There was enough momentum to keep going for another ten years, but stiff competition and price-cutting by the Big Three doomed the enterprise.


1937 brandweer trucks studebaker firea01f 1937 Ford and Studebaker COE trucks 1937 Studebaker a 1937 Studebaker ambulance 1937 Studebaker behind 1939 Packard super 8 1937 Studebaker BO 1937 Studebaker Bus Automobile Photo Poster Z1756 1937 Studebaker bus project 1937 Studebaker camioneta modelo J5 1937 Studebaker Coe 1937 Studebaker Coupe Express with custom built box 1937 Studebaker Coupe Express 1937 Studebaker Coupe 1937 Studebaker Coupe-Express chassis 1937 Studebaker Coupe-Express covered 1937 Studebaker Coupe-Express 1937 Studebaker Dictator Cruising Sedan 1937 studebaker J5 1937 studebaker j5al 1937 studebaker J20-80 1000gallon 4 compartment 1937 Studebaker J25MB Superior Bus Photo 1937 Studebaker or GMC 1937 Studebaker Patchett School Bus Buses 1937 Studebaker President Coupe 1937 Studebaker School Bus A 1937 Studebaker School Bus Project 1937 Studebaker Suburban 1937 Studebaker Trekker ff 1937 Studebaker Truck Ad-01 1937 Studebaker Truck Ad-03 1937 Studebaker Truck Ad-04 1937 Studebaker WH 1937 Studebaker Woodie Station Wagon Factory 1937 Studebaker 1937 Studebaker-1937-type-HZ-77208-carr-Asberg-garage 1937 Studebaker-coupe-express-a 1937 Studebaker-J-serie-2M657 1937 Studebaker's 259 cubic inch V8 and has an eight foot bed 1937-37 studebaker bus-truck service manual set 1937-38 studebaker-coupe-express

From 1950, Studebaker declined rapidly and, by 1954, was losing money. It negotiated a strategic takeover by Packard, a smaller but less financially troubled car manufacturer. However, the cash position was worse than it had led Packard to believe and, by 1956, the company (renamed Studebaker-Packard Corporation and under the guidance of CEO James J. Nance) was nearly bankrupt, though it continued to make and market both Studebaker and Packard cars until 1958. The “Packard” element was retained until 1962, when the name reverted to “Studebaker Corporation”.

Contract with Curtiss-Wright

A three-year management contract was made by Nance with aircraft maker Curtiss-Wright in 1956 with the aim of improving finances. C-W’s president, Roy T. Hurley, attempted to cure Studebaker’s ruinously lax employment policies. Under C-W’s guidance, Studebaker-Packard also sold the old Detroit Packard plant and returned the then-new Packard plant to its lessor, Chrysler.


1938 studebaker advert 1938 Studebaker Ambulance 1938 Studebaker Bender a 1938 Studebaker Bender Hearse 1938 Studebaker Bus 1938 Studebaker Commander Six Coupe 1938 studebaker Coupe Express a 1938 Studebaker Coupe Express BO 1938 Studebaker Coupé Express 1938 Studebaker Delivery Van 1938 Studebaker 'J-25' Truck 1938 Studebaker K10 1938 studebaker pickup 1938 Studebaker State Commander Converible Sedan 1938 studebaker 1938 Studebakers in Santiago 1938-studebaker-bender-ambulance 1938-studebaker-bender-hearse-1

The company became the American importer for Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and DKW automobiles and many Studebaker dealers sold those brands as well. C-W gained the use of idle car plants and tax relief on their aircraft profits while Studebaker-Packard received further working capital to continue car production.

Last automobiles produced

The automobiles that came after the diversification process began, including the redesigned compact Lark (1959) and the Avanti sports car (1962), were based on old chassis and engine designs. The Lark, in particular, was based on existing parts to the degree that it even utilized the central body section of the company’s 1953–58 cars, but was a clever enough design to be popular in its first year, selling over 130,000 units and delivering a $28.6 million profit to the automaker. “S-P rose from 56,920 units in 1958 to 153,844 in 1959.”


1939 ambulance studebaker ah23 1939 Studebaker Cab-forward truck 1939 Studebaker carr. Renkema Middelstum B-12212 coll. Jan Harmsen Drachten 1939 Studebaker Champion BW 1939 studebaker champion sedan 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express 1939 Studebaker Delivery Truck 1939 Studebaker President Sedan 1939 studebaker saline firetruck 1939 Studebaker 1939 studebaker-l5-coupe-express 1939 Studebaker-truck 1939 StudebakerTrucksandBusesRRM 1939-67 Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company

However, Lark sales began to drop precipitously after the big three manufacturers introduced their own compact models in 1960, and the situation became critical once the so-called “senior compacts” debuted for 1961. The Lark had provided a temporary reprieve, but nothing proved enough to stop the financial bleeding.


1940 Studebaker 07 1940 Studebaker bellingham 1940 Studebaker Bender 1940 Studebaker Coupe Pickup 1940 studebaker firetruck 1940 Studebaker Hearse 1940 Studebaker Highlander 1940 Studebaker K15F, 4x4 1940 Studebaker K25S, 6x6 1940 Studebaker Sedan 1940 studebaker Studebaker 1940-studebaker-hearse

There was a labor strike at the South Bend plant starting on January 1, 1962 and lasting 38 days. The strike came to an end after an agreement was reached between company president Sherwood H. Egbert and Walter P. Reuther, president of the UAW. Despite a sales uptick in 1962, continuing media reports that Studebaker was about to leave the auto business became a self-fulfilling prophecy as buyers shied away from the company’s products for fear of being stuck with an “orphan”. NBC reporter Chet Huntley made a television program called “Studebaker—Fight for Survival” which aired on May 18, 1962. By 1963, all of the company’s automobiles and trucks were selling poorly.

Exit from auto business

Closure of South Bend plant, 1963


1941 Studebaker Ad. 1941 Studebaker Ad+ 1941 Studebaker Champion de Luxe coupe 1941 studebaker champion sedan 1941 studebaker Commander coupe 1941 Studebaker Coupe Pickup a 1941 Studebaker Coupe Pickup b 1941 Studebaker De Luxe Coupe Express 1941 Studebaker LA, 6x6 1941 Studebaker M15 Ice Cream Truck 1941 studebaker page (1) 1941 studebaker page (10) 1941 Studebaker President 1941 Studebaker Skyway Series Land Cruiser Sedan 1941 studebaker truck 1941-45 STUDEBAKER US 6

After insufficient initial sales of the 1964 models and the ousting of president Sherwood Egbert, the company announced the closure of the South Bend plant on December 9, 1963, and produced its last car in South Bend on December 20. The engine foundry remained open to supply the Canadian plant until the end of the 1964 model year, after which it was also shuttered. The Avanti model name, tooling, and plant space were sold off to Leo Newman and Nate Altman, a longtime South Bend Studebaker-Packard dealership. They revived the car in 1965 under the brand name “Avanti II”. (See main article Avanti cars (non-Studebaker).) They likewise purchased the rights and tooling for Studebaker’s trucks, along with the company’s vast stock of parts and accessories. Trucks ceased to be built after Studebaker fulfilled its remaining orders in early 1964. There were some ‘1965’ model Champ trucks built in South America using CKD parts ( completely knocked down ). These models used a different grill than all previous Champ models.

Closure of Hamilton plant, 1966

1966 Cruiser four-door sedan, the last Studebaker manufactured

Limited automotive production was consolidated at the company’s last remaining production facility in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which had always been profitable and where Studebaker produced cars until March 1966 under the leadership of Gordon Grundy. It was projected that the Canadian operation could break even on production of about 20,000 cars a year, and Studebaker’s announced goal was 30,000–40,000 1965 models. While 1965 production was just shy of the 20,000 figure, the company’s directors felt that the small profits were not enough to justify continued investment. Rejecting Grundy’s request for funds to tool up for 1967 models, Studebaker left the automobile business on March 16, 1966 after an announcement on March 4. A turquoise and white Cruiser sedan was the last of fewer than 9,000 1966 models manufactured. In reality, the move to Canada had been a tactic by which production could be slowly wound down and remaining dealer franchise obligations honored. Final 1966 cars used Chevrolet engines and drivetrains when Studebaker drivetrains were no longer available.


1942 Packard Ambulance by Henney 1942 Studebaker Champion 1942 studebaker cover 1942 Studebaker forever 1942 Studebaker LC, 4x4 1942 studebaker President Skyway Sedan Coupe 1942 Studebaker Truck 1942 Studebaker US6.U2, 6x6 1942 Studebaker US6.U5, 6x6

The closure adversely affected not only the plant’s 700 employees, who had developed a sense of collegiality around group benefits such as employee parties and day trips, but the city of Hamilton as a whole; Studebaker had been Hamilton’s tenth largest employer.

Network and other assets

Many of Studebaker’s dealers either closed, took on other automakers’ product lines, or converted to Mercedes-Benz dealerships following the closure of the Canadian plant. Studebaker’s General Products Division, which built vehicles to fulfill defense contracts, was acquired by Kaiser Industries, which built military and postal vehicles in South Bend. In 1970, American Motors(AMC) purchased the division, which still exists today as AM General.


1943 studebaker ff21 1943 studebaker ff24 1943 studebaker ff78 1943 studebaker US6 tractor 1943 Studebaker US6.U6, 6x6 1943 Studebaker US6.U13, 6x6 1943 Studebaker us6ak1 1943 Studebaker US6U3 BO 1943 studebaker Weasel Tank LB

The grove of 5,000 trees planted on the proving grounds in 1937, spelling out the Studebaker name, still stands and has proven to be a popular topic on such satellite photography sites as Google Earth. The proving grounds were acquired by Bendix in 1966 and Bosch in 1996. After Bosch closed its South Bend operation in 2011, a part of the proving ground was retained and, as of April 2013, has been restored to use under the name “New Carlisle Test Facility”. For many years a rumor persisted of a Studebaker grave yard. The rumor was later confirmed to be fact when the remains of many Studebaker prototype automobiles and a few trucks were discovered at a remote site within the confines of the former Studebaker proving grounds. A few of the prototypes were rescued and are in private collections. The only example of a never-produced wood-sided Champion station wagon has been restored and is on display at the Studebaker National Museum. Unfortunately, most of the prototypes were left to rot in direct contact with the ground and full exposure to the weather and falling trees. Attempts to remove some of these rusting bodies resulted in the bodies crumbling under their own weight as they were moved, so now they exist only in photographs.


1944 ad for the Weasel a 1944 ad for the Weasel 1944 ad now Studebaker 1944 Studebaker US6.U7, 6x6 1944 Studebaker Weasel

In May 1967, Studebaker and its diversified units were merged with Wagner Electric. In November 1967, Studebaker was merged with the Worthington Corporation to form Studebaker-Worthington Inc., a Delaware corporation. The Studebaker name disappeared from the American business scene in 1979, when McGraw-Edison acquired Studebaker-Worthington, except for the still existing Studebaker Leasing, based in Jericho, NY. McGraw-Edison was itself purchased in 1985 by Cooper Industries, which sold off its auto-parts divisions to Federal-Mogul some years later. As detailed above, some vehicles were assembled from left-over parts and identified as Studebakers by the purchasers of the Avanti brand and surplus material from Studebaker at South Bend. (See article Avanti (car) (non-Studebaker).)


1945 ad, Studebaker B - 17. 1945 Studebaker AD, Red Army flies Studebaker Trucks over river 1945 studebaker mt irvine fire truck 3-78 1945 studebaker Weasel 6zyl 2500cc1

Now the Studebaker company continues with their current prodigal son Michael Studebaker who resides in Hawaii

Diversified activities

By the early 1960s, Studebaker had begun to diversify away from automobiles. Numerous companies were purchased, bringing Studebaker into such diverse fields as the manufacture of tire studs and missile components.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1946 Studebaker Bus-Truck links Wilhelminaplein Eindhoven 1946 studebaker champion station wagon 1946 Studebaker M-Series Truck 1946 studebaker skyway champion coupe 1946 studebakerfire 1946-47 Studebaker

The company’s 1963 annual report listed the following divisions:

Having built the Wright R-1820 under license during World War II, Studebaker also attempted to build what would perhaps have been the largest aircraft piston engine ever built. With 24 cylinders in an “H” configuration, a bore of 8 in (203 mm) and stroke of 7.75 in (197 mm), displacement would have been 9,349 cubic inches (153.20 L), hence the H-9350 designation. It was not completed.


1947 federal Tractor Trailer 1947 Studebaker Bus Antwerpen Belgium 1947 Studebaker Bus A 1947 STUDEBAKER COMMANDER REGAL DELUXE CONVERTIBLE 1947 Studebaker convirtible 1947 Studebaker M-16-52 StakeTruck 3 1947 studebaker starlight coupe 1947 Studebaker Tommy Thornburg 1947 Studebaker Tommy-thornburgh 2 1947 Studebaker Tommy-thornburgh 3 1947 Studebaker Transport 1947 studebaker 1947 studebaker-champion-regal-de-lux 1947 studebaker-commander 1947 studebaker-commander-regal 1947 studebaker-m-5-coupe-express 1947-48 Studebaker

The impressive wagons pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales are Studebaker wagons modified to carry beer, originally manufactured circa 1900.


1948 M5 Studebaker Woody 1948 Studebaker (2) 1948 Studebaker 2 1948 studebaker 113a 1948 Studebaker Bus ‎1948 Studebaker camioneta san OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1948 Studebaker M16 52A Truck 1948 Studebaker M16 bus 1948 Studebaker M16 Pirsch Fire Truck 1948 studebaker sedan 1948 Studebaker starlight Coupe Feature-Top 1948 Studebaker 1948-49 Studebaker Fire Chief's car 1948-49 Studebaker


See also List of Studebaker vehicles

Studebaker automobile models


1949 Studebaker army truck prototype, 6x6 1949 Studebaker bus 1949 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe a 1949 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe b 1949 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe 1949 studebaker commander regal de luxe conv coupe 1949 Studebaker Pickup Trucks 1949 Studebaker School Bus 1949 Studebaker 1949-50 Studebaker 1949-56 StudebakerTruckFALRPB

Studebaker trucks


1950 Ambulance Studebaker 2R10-22 Trapman ambulance 1950 Vermeulen-Studebaker-NL 1950 Vermeulen-Studebaker-2 1950 Studebaker-champion-convertible 1950 Studebaker S082650 1950 Studebaker Truck-12 1950 Studebaker Starlight 1950 Studebaker Metal Nosed. 1950 Studebaker Champion 1950 Studebaker Cantrell Woodie S062450 1950 Studebaker Ambulance Nederland 1950 Studebaker Amb 1950 studebaker 20 1950 studebaker 11 1950 studebaker 07 1950 Studebaker 2R Fire Engine Truck 1950 Studabaker Bus 1950 GGD aan de Sloetstraat staan achteraan de twee Chevrolets DP uit 1948 en vooraan de twee Studebakers 2R5 uit 1950 met hun chauffeurs. 1950 Brandweer Trucks Studebaker 2R Fire Truck UXB

Studebaker body styles


1951 Studebaker (2) 1951 Studebaker a 1951 Studebaker ad 1951 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1951 studebaker champion sedan 1951 Studebaker Champion 1951 Studebaker Commander Convert 1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe 1951 Studebaker Commander State Convertible 1951 Studebaker f 1951 Studebaker grille pieces on it 1951 Studebaker Linea Diagonal N32 A Santiago 1951 Studebaker on hauler 1951 Studebaker 1951 Studebaker-2r5 pickup-truck 1951 studebaker-2r5-pickup 1951 Studebaker-Pick Up 1951 Studebakers wreckedonstreet

Affiliated automobile marques

  • Tincher: An early independent builder of luxury cars financed by Studebaker investment, 1903–1909
  • Studebaker-Garford: Studebaker-bodied cars, 1904–1911
  • E-M-F: Independent auto manufacturer that marketed cars through Studebaker wagon dealers, 1909–1912
  • Erskine: Brand of automobile produced by Studebaker, 1926–1930
  • Pierce-Arrow: owned by Studebaker 1928–1933
  • Rockne: Brand of automobile produced by Studebaker, 1932–1933
  • Packard: 1954 merger partner of Studebaker
  • Mercedes-Benz: Distributed through Studebaker dealers, 1958–1966


1952 studebaker 01 1952 studebaker 06 1952 Studebaker ad. 1952 studebaker champion 1952 Studebaker logo 1952 studebaker prototype by Porsche 1952 Studebaker R-Series NB-55-86 Schiedam 1952 Studebaker Taxi uit de jaren '50 met de markante kogelneus 1952 Studebaker

See also


1953 Studebaker (2) 1953 studebaker 6cyl3spd pickup 1953 Studebaker ad 1953 Studebaker Champion Deluxe 4-door Sedan 1953 Studebaker Champion(Orange Julep) 1953 Studebaker Commander a 1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight CoupeV8 with OD Transmission 1953 Studebaker Funny Car Model 1953 Studebaker or 1953 Studebaker Starlight Coupe 1953 studebaker starliner coupe 1953 Studebaker starliner 1953 Studebaker Station Wagon By Cantrell 1953 Studebaker Torpedo 1953 Studebaker


1954 Studebaker 0,5 T Truck 1954 Studebaker 0,75Ton Pickup 1954 Studebaker 04 1954 Studebaker Ambulet station wagon 1954 studebaker Champion Conestoga Deluxe 1954 Studebaker Commander Deluxe Conestoga a 1954 Studebaker Commander Deluxe Conestoga b 1954 Studebaker Commander Deluxe Conestoga c 1954 Studebaker Commander Deluxe Conestoga d 1954 Studebaker Commander Deluxe Conestoga 1954 Studebaker Commander Regal Starlight Coupe 1954 Studebaker Conestoga Ambulet brooklin-kcsv02 1954 Studebaker Conestoga Registry 1954 Studebaker reclame 1954 Studebaker Starliner Ambulance 1954 Studebaker+side view


1955 1-2 Police Marshal version 1955 Ambulance Studebaker Commander Ambulet 1955 Ambulet Studebaker 1955 Studebaker 01 1955 studebaker 6 1955 Studebaker ad 1955 Studebaker Ambulance NL 1955 Studebaker Ambulet (2) 1955 Studebaker Champion Regal Hardtop Coupé 1955 Studebaker Commander Regal 16G8 C5 Two-Door Exterior 1955 Studebaker Commander V-8 Regal Hardtop 1955 STUDEBAKER E 14 1955 studebaker hawk 1955 Studebaker President carries the wraparound windshield 1955 Studebaker President Hardtop 1955 Studebaker


1956 Studebaker  sw Station Wagons 1956 Studebaker 2E series Pickup 1956 Studebaker 06 1956 Studebaker a 1956 Studebaker Ad 3 1956 Studebaker ad.2 1956 Studebaker ad 1956 Studebaker c 1956 Studebaker clan 1956 Studebaker Dual Ghia 1956 Studebaker Europian Look OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1956 studebaker president classic 1956 Studebaker President Pinehurst 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk Coupe 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk Or 1956 studebaker sw pelham