The Studeblogger

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

1963 Standard TV Introduction

My post about the introduction of the Studebaker Standard has brought a couple of interesting comments. Warren Webb of Riverside wrote:

Boy do I ever remember the introduction of this model! I was watching "Mister Ed" & heard at the beginning of the show the teaser that Studebaker was introducing a new car. Wow, I thought, could this be a follow up to the Avanti? Perhaps a new Hawk? I don't remember the show, but when John Cameron Swayze announced the introduction to the "new Studebaker Standard" I was really disappointed. Now, as the years have gone by, along with Studebaker's demise, I often think why did they do it that way?

Good question. The history of Studebaker is filled with "what if?" questions. What if they'd built the '53 Roadster? What if they hadn't given Lark franchises to Big Three dealers in '59, just to see them drop the Lark when GM/Ford/Mopar came out with their own compacts the next year? What if they'd built the Sceptre, or the other Brooks Stevens prototypes that were done in '63?

Interestingly, the John Cameron Swayze commercial Warren refers to has been posted on YouTube. Here it is:

Also, Heather writes:
This is an interesting story I haven't heard. I wondered why parts for my '63 Cruiser are so hard to come by. All is falling into place now! Strange to contemplate a car without carpet, and it sounds like a noisy, unpleasant ride.

Yes, 1963 was a real transition year - lots of one-year-only trim and soft parts - and not a high-production year either, although they did build a lot of "inventory" cars at the end of the model year in order to keep production lines running.

In fact, Bob Palma theorizes in the October 1993 issue of Turning Wheels that one of the reasons the Studebaker board shuttered South Bend in December of '63 relates directly to this unneeded, last-minute production of '63-model cars. Because dealer lots were so full of unsold '63s when the newly restyled '64 hit showrooms, dealers offered "fire-sale" prices on last year's model - torpedoing the sale of a new '64, and causing the sales slump that finally prompted the board to close US production lines.

A cautionary tale for US automakers today if there ever was one.

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