Studebaker “turning wheel” badge on cars produced 1912–1934
Studebaker (1852-1967, // 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.
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.
1912 E-M-F Model 30 Roadster 1912
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
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 Buses
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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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.
World’s largest vehicle house
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”.: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.
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 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 Ambulance-Hearse-Policecar
1924 Studebaker Buses in Wassenaar Holland
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-van-kerckhoffs-die-is-ingebracht-in-de-vad-central 1 NL
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-camperbus-ad-mbldg-forum © Richard Zuinn
1926 Studebaker Carr. Pennock The Hague The Netherlands
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.
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.
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.
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.