(Found In) Gold Coast (Alameda, California): 1962 Studebaker Lark Regal VIII 4 Door Sedan

IMG_5645A wing, a prayer, and perhaps some emergency road flares. That encapsulated where Studebaker was by 1962 with their standard passenger car line. Where the innovation of cropping the circa ’53 standard Studebaker down to the Lark in 1959 was a stroke of genius, by 1962 many manufacturers crowded around the special bird to make a feast. No longer was it the only downsized dowager with the pride of a potent V8 engine.

A nip and a tuck of plastic surgery, some new features and a fretting over where to go next signified where the Lark was in 1962. Emphasis on the blossoming of the specialized small American car seen elsewhere creeped in too. How much of the old bird was new in ’62.

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(Found In) Glen Park (San Francisco, California): 1958 Packard Hawk 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

img_5368Desperate times call for desperate measures. Fewer post-war manufacturer moments represented Code Red better than the reality of the Studebaker-Packard merger of 1954. In the imperfect marriage between the pearl of South Bend and once the most exclusive brand in the land of The USA saw a monumental undoing rather hastily. The debacles of Studebaker’s quality failings and poor ability to keep up with consumer demand of their 1953 coupes had long lasting implications. Packard’s own quality difficulties sunk their Clipper ships and their larger cruise ships.

It’s perhaps fitting irony that one of the final Packards offered were a variation on the latest update of the ill-starred Starlight coupes of 1953. What made this Packardbaker so special?

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(Found In) Fall River Mills (Shasta County, California): 1952 Studebaker Commander Regal Starlight Coupe

img_2793There’s a price to pay for being independent. Possibly no manufacturer continually learned that lesson better/worse than Studebaker. With big ambitions yet more often than not modest budgets, the sensations of South Bend often shot for the stars but found little oxygen to continue their journeys beyond the stratosphere.

Where larger manufacturers could find cash to carry them into modest restyles and updates, smaller brands had to stick to guns they fired. This is where the story of the “first by far with a Postwar Car” 1947 Studebaker found itself 6 seasons later in 1952.

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(Found In) Fairfax (Oakland, California): 1962 Rambler Classic Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_2375In the era of planned obsolescence, independent brands, out of necessity didn’t “keep up with the times.” Smaller brands like Studebaker, AMC and a number of independent brands before them didn’t have the market share or profits to field new styling and the required sheetmetal every 2 or 3 years, or, in the case of General Motors, the extreme of every model year for 1957, ’58 and ’59.

As a wave of consumer backlash against this process developed, American Motors in particular, was well situated to take advantage of the march of “progress” fielded by the big three. Their smaller, sensible, upright rolling orthopedic shoes of automobiles, assembled with care and craft not necessarily known in their price class lead them to rise in sales during the leaner, recession restricted years of 1958 through 1961.  How did that do for ’62?

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(Found In) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1956 (Packard) Clipper Super Sedan

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Although the voyage was almost over, the (Packard) Clipper was one mighty ship. Full of technological advances, most reserved for the premium revamped Packards of 1955, they should have held the tiller til brighter successes throughout the rest of the 1950’s.

Many factors prevented their efforts at buoying the fleet of Packards while exploring the Medium-Price field against Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Chryslers and Mercuries. All but in name, they were the final formal Packards, and some of the finest to boot.
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(Found In) Alberta Arts District (Portland, Oregon): 1964 Rambler Classic 770 Typhoon Hardtop Coupe

image (10)The concept of the “Spring Special” to spur sagging interest in new cars is somewhat a lost concept. In these days of blurred time boundaries, new models up for sale are just given the next model year title. In the past however, new features and running model updates more often than not got a fresh round of marketing to spur along sales of current models.

Chrysler was notorious for flamboyant color options and names, Ford for bodystyles and powertrains. When AMC had a special announcement up its sleeve for April of ’64, it took pages from both their books. With a fancy new engine and a striking color scheme, the 1964 Typhoon was born.
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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1954 Hudson Hornet Sedan

image After creating such a sensation on the Automotive market in 1948, The “Step Down” Hudsons found themselves left behind because of their extremely distinctive stance. The envelope Uni-Body that gave the rugged solidarity and premium prestige in the immediate post war proved a limited engineering dead end in the rapidly changing automotive market of the 1950’s.

More Film Noir than Technicolor, Hudson tried valiantly to freshen up and trim the relationship to fastback fancies of the 1940’s. Interestingly, the modernization worked to some degree better on other bodystyles, yet betrayed the aging roots on other models. For the final year of truly unique Hudson models, it proved many a fumbled opportunity.
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(Found In) The Bayview (San Francisco, California): 1948 Studebaker Commander Regal Starlight Coupe

23758564803_445b4417d2_k Studebaker, independent manufacturer always willing to take a risk, was no stranger to creating stylish coupe models during the post war era. Had it not been for the advanced styling that Studebaker took in the personalization of the average automobile, many mainstream manufacturers may have not taken heed and offered their own wares.

Had it not been for the unique Starlight Coupes, General Motors perhaps wouldn’t have retaliated with their “Hardtop Convertibles” in the guise of “Coupe DeVille” “Riviera” and “Holiday at Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile in 1949. Perhaps the world would have continued appreciating the divide between carefree convertibles and stoic sedans.

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(Found In) Alberta Arts District (Portland): 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire Station Wagon

10406728_10152113960137201_2508588378875276034_nSome of the best ideas come out of the most desperate and dark hours. In the early 60’s with a non-existent budget, Studebaker threw everything they possibly could in every niche direction. Had those innovate ideas on wheels went anywhere there was a host of concepts of where to go if they got enough money in the bank.

Alongside the Personal Lux Pioneer Phoenix Grand Turismo Hawk and the Thunderbird/Corvette love child that was the Avanti, Studebaker decided to innovate the way wagons earned their keep on the trusty old Lark platform. All it took was a hole in the roof.

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