THE SHOP

March '21

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16 THE SHOP MARCH 2021 THE STUDEBAKER STORY PART II on under new ownership by Bosch. Now known as the BAPG (Bosch Automotive Proving Grounds), the track is located out- side of New Carlisle, Indiana. Visible from the air (and from space), a Google Maps search of the area still clearly shows the Bendix Woods Park and the 8,000 70-foot- tall red and white pine trees that spell out S-T-U-D-E-B-A-K-E-R on the property. The final element in the Studebaker story is the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC). Founded in 1962 by Harry Barnes, SDC is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and use of Studebaker vehicles. With more than 12,500 members world- wide, it is one of the largest single-marque old car clubs in the world. Annual SDC International Meets often attract 1,000 or more members and almost as many Stude- baker vehicles. SDC has more than 100 chapters around the world, with substantial memberships in Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, keeping passion alive for a uniquely American car- maker that traces its roots back to horseless carriages. JAMES MAXWELL is an automotive journalist and historian based in Southern California. Contact him at imax@roadrunner.com. 16 THE SHOP MARCH 2021 Since the earliest days of automo- bile production, Studebaker pro- duced trucks of one kind or another. One of the most memorable for many fans of the marque is the 1937 J5 Coupe-Express. Built on the Dictator passenger car platform, the pickup was a beautiful machine with graceful lines. Prior to WWII, the company also produced M-Series trucks for farming use and then, during the war, Studebaker provided the 2.5- ton US6 military trucks that were so popular in Russia (provided under the lend-lease program) that later on, in ordinary Russian conversa - tions, the word Studebaker became synonymous with the word truck. Big news came in 1949 with an attractive and modern-looking 2R pickup design created by Bob Bourke. An immediate sales suc - cess, the 2R—later referred to as the E-Series—was available with a V-8 by 1955. Minor restylings followed, along with some rugged 4x4 high-boy models. Then, for 1958, a low-cost Scotsman model was introduced, featuring original 1949 2R grilles. A refresh in 1960 was based on the success of the Lark car that debuted in 1959. A new Champ truck model was created by simply dropping a Lark body (a cab was created using a sedan from the B-pillar forward, with Lark hood and front fenders) and then slapping on a different, more macho grille featuring horizontal slats. The bed was from the 1949 pickups, and the next year a deal was made between Studebaker and Dodge to purchase the tooling for Dodge full-width beds. However, the contours of the Lark and the contours of the pickup bed didn't blend very well, and the company never spent the money needed to cor - rect the rear box design. Continuing a name that started back in the 1800s, Transtar models were available in 1-ton capacities and larger. Company president Sher- wood Egbert, even while sick with stomach cancer, was a big believer in Studebaker's trucks, and in 1962 he pushed through a new line of medium-duty diesels that unfortunately never caught on with the buying public. On Dec. 7, 1963, the South Bend plant shut down and with it ended all production of Studebaker trucks— no more Champs, no more Transtars and no more diesel Studebaker rigs. Studebaker's Trucks Designed for couriers, flower shops and hardware store delivery vehicles, a kit was sold through Studebaker dealers to convert the 1958 Scotsman two-door wagon into a Panel Wagon. These no-frills cars lacked the normal brightwork to keep costs down. Since the earliest years (1902 with a small electric runabout model) Stude- baker manufactured a variety of trucks. These 1937 Saturday Evening Post ads highlight commercial trucks in different cargo configurations. The Studebaker Coupe-Express light-duty trucks were made from 1937-'39 and these machines were pickups with car styling, independent front suspension and a double-walled, 6-foot-long box constructed of 16-gauge steel.

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