Description

  • By 1911, Studebaker was second only to Ford in automobile sales.
  • By 1922, the Studebaker Big Six was one of the most popular cars in America.

Story

Story

The Studebaker brothers, Henry and Clem, opened a blacksmith and wagon-making shop in South Bend, Indiana, in 1852.  Their wagon business grew at a steady rate and with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, wagon production received a tremendous boost.  Studebaker offered a full line of horse drawn vehicles until 1920.

Experiments with an electric car in 1897 led to the manufacture of electric passenger and commercial vehicles.  When Henry left the firm and Clem died, their younger brother, John, became president in 1901.  Experiments with gasoline cars led to an association with the Garford Company in 1904 and the EMF Company in 1908.

By 1911, Studebaker held second place in automobile sales, exceeded only by Ford.  Studebaker discontinued its electric cars in 1912, and in 1913 concentrated on producing a six-cylinder gasoline vehicle.  Sales continued to soar each year except 1917, when the war effort drastically reduced civilian production and experimental work was put aside.  Through 1918 and 1919, problems of reconversion and shortages of materials hampered Studebaker’s production of its new EG Big Six and barely 11,000 were built and sold by the end of 1919.  By 1922, the Big Six was one of the most talked about cars in America.  More than 30,000 of the EG models were sold.

With the new EK Big Six, Studebaker could find little to change or improve in the chassis except the cone clutch which gave way to a single-plate, dry clutch.  Bodies were further refined with the windshield being changed to a one-piece type, an added cowl ventilator, and a courtesy light to illuminate the left side of the car at night as an aid to passing motorists.  The 1924 models were continued almost without change until mid-year when production was shut down to make way for production of the 1925 models.

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