Why Did Studebaker Go Out Of Business?


One of the main reasons, Studebaker goes out of business is their business policies. They made some serious mistakes and took some poor business decisions in the 1920s through the 1940s. Later, Studebaker merged with Packard in 1954 but it was far too late for Studebaker to change their fate. Studebaker was not able to meet the ever-changing demand of their customers. They failed to create new styles and engineering improvements for their vehicles which let them down. Their main letdown was in 1953 where Studebaker’s vehicle models crippled the firm beyond salvation.

Key Takeaways

  • Studebaker was an American wagon and automobile manufacturer company and it was founded in 1852
  • Raymond Loewy designed and created iconic and popular models including the bullet-nosed 1953 Starliner and Starlight coupes and the 1963 Avanti sports coupe
  • The last Studebaker car was made in March 1966 in Ontario and then this company go out of business
  • Studebaker Avanti was the fastest Studebaker car of all time

History Of Studebaker

The establishment of Studebaker Corporation dates back to 1852 when Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana. Eventually, Studebaker a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons and supplied wagons and they supplied these vehicles to the U.S. Army during the Civil War. After the turn of the century, Studebaker entered into America’s burgeoning auto industry. They launched an electric car in 1902 and a gas-powered vehicle in 1904 which was known as Studebaker-Garford. Studebaker later, partnered with other automakers and started to sell gas-powered cars under its own name in 1913. They continued to produce wagons until 1920.

In 1915, Albert Erskine assumed the top job at Studebaker, and under his leadership, Studebaker acquired luxury automaker Pierce-Arrow in the late 1920s. After accruing Pierce-Arrow, this company started to make affordably priced but short-lived Erskine and Rockne lines. During the early 1930s, Studebaker was hit hard by the Great Depression. In March 1933, Studebaker was forced into bankruptcy. Moreover, Albert Erskine killed himself on July 1, 1933, because of personal debts and health problems. After the death of Albert Erskine, new management got the company back on track. The new management brought the Rockne brand in July 1933 and started to sell Pierce-Arrow. Later, in the late 1930s, Raymond Loewy who is a French-born industrial designer joined Studebaker.

Raymond Loewy designed and created iconic and popular models including the bullet-nosed 1953 Starliner and Starlight coupes and the 1963 Avanti sports coupe. But the competition was growing for Studebaker and it was very hard for them to keep the competition with the three big competitors. In the late 1950s, Studebaker merged with automaker Packard and was again facing financial problems. The Packard brand was dropped and in December 1963, Studebaker shuttered its South Bend plant which resulted in the end of Studebaker’s production of cars and trucks in America. However, Studebaker’s Hamilton, Ontario, facilities remained in operation until March 1966. In March 1966, Studebaker was completely shut down after 114 years in business.

Reasons Studebaker Go Out of Business

The main problem of Studebaker begins in the 1950s though during that time Studebaker seemed to be unstoppable but that was not the case. During the 1950s things were starting to crumble for Studebaker. This company was facing hard competition from Ford and GM. Both Ford and GM were engaged in a price war which created a problem for Studebaker because Studebaker was unable to cope with the price drop. Moreover, the increased labor and production costs, as well as some quality control issues, made the once mighty Studebaker fall behind from the mainstream competition. In that time period, Studebaker made a partnership with the Packard car company but it didn’t help the cause. By 1959, Studebaker had stopped producing new models, and production at the South Bend factory also stopped in 1962. The last Studebaker car was made in March 1966 in Ontario. Then, the 100 years old company was completely out of business.

List Of Studebaker Vehicles

Studebaker is a 100-year-old company and they have produced lots of automobiles and trucks. Let’s check them out!

Studebaker Automobile Models

1. Studebaker Electric (1902–1912)

2. Studebaker-Garford (1904–1911)

3. Studebaker Six monobloc-engine models (1911–1918)

4. Studebaker Light Four (1918–1920)

5. Studebaker Big Six (1918–1927)

6. Studebaker Special Six (1918–1927)

7. Studebaker Light Six (includes Standard Six model) (1918–1927)

8. Studebaker Commander (1927–1935, 1937–1958, 1964–1966)

9. Studebaker President (1928–1942, 1955–1958)

10. Studebaker Dictator/Director (1927–1937)

11. Studebaker Champion (1939–1958)

12. Studebaker Land Cruiser (1934–1954)

13. Studebaker Conestoga (1954–1955)

14. Studebaker Speedster (1955)

15. Studebaker Scotsman (1957–1958)

16. Studebaker Golden Hawk (1956–1958)

17. Studebaker Silver Hawk (1957–1959)

18. Studebaker Sky Hawk (1956)

19. Studebaker Flight Hawk (1956)

20. Studebaker Power Hawk (1956)

21. Studebaker Hawk (1960–1961)

22. Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk (1962–1964)

23. Studebaker Lark (1959–1966) 

24. Studebaker Avanti (1962–1964)

25. Studebaker Wagonaire (1963–1966)

Studebaker Trucks

1. Studebaker GN Series (1929–1930)

2. Studebaker S Series (1930–1934)

3. Studebaker T Series (1934–1936)

4. Studebaker W Series (1934–1936)

5. Studebaker J Series (1937)

6. Studebaker Coupe Express (1937–1939)

7. Studebaker K Series (1938–1940)

8. Studebaker M Series (1941–1942, 1945, 1946–1948)

9. Studebaker US6 (1941–1945)

10. Studebaker M29 Weasel (1942–1945)

11. Studebaker 2R Series (1949–1953)

12. Studebaker 3R Series (1954)

13. Studebaker E Series Truck (1955–1964)

14. Studebaker Transtar (1956–1958, 1960–1964)

15. Studebaker Champ (1960–1964)

16. Studebaker Zip Van (1964)

17. M35 2-1/2 ton cargo truck (1950s through 1964)

Affiliated Automobile Marques

1. Tincher: An early independent builder of luxury cars financed by Studebaker investment, 1903–1909

2. Studebaker-Garford: Studebaker-bodied cars, 1904–1911

3. E-M-F: Independent auto manufacturer that marketed cars through Studebaker wagon dealers, 1909–1912

4. Erskine: Brand of automobile produced by Studebaker, 1926–1930

5. Pierce-Arrow: owned by Studebaker 1928–1934[56]

6. Rockne: Brand of automobile produced by Studebaker, 1932–1933

7. Packard: 1954 merger partner of Studebaker

8. Mercedes-Benz: Distributed through Studebaker dealers, 1958–1966

FAQs About Why Did Studebaker Go Out Of Business?

Was Studebaker A Good Car?

Yes, Studebaker was a good car. In fact, Studebaker cars were American-made, well-built, stylish, and affordable automobiles. These cars were very popular among the American people.

What Happened To Studebaker Packard Corporation?

In 1954, Studebaker had an unsuccessful merger with Packard and it failed to solve chronic postwar cashflow problems. Therefore, the ‘Studebaker Corporation’ name was restored in 1962. However, Studebaker was unable to come back from the setback and eventually closed in 1966.

What Year Did Studebaker Close?

Studebaker was closed in November 1967.

What Was The Fastest Studebaker?

1962 Studebaker Avanti was the fastest Studebaker. This was the first “Coke Bottle Designed” car and the production car of that time.

Who Owns The Studebaker Name?

Ric Reed owns the Studebaker name. He bought out the rights to the company’s name from a former partner, Tom Raines. Tom Raines acquired the name in 2001.

Who Designed The Studebaker Hawk?

Robert Bourke, the head of the design team of Studebaker designed Studebaker Hawk. He was contracted from Raymond Loewy Associates. Studebaker Hawk was available in four models based on the wheelbase and body of the ’53 coupes and hardtops.

Was Avanti Made By Studebaker?

Yes, Avanti was made by Studebaker. In fact, Studebaker Avanti is a personal luxury coupe and it was manufactured and marketed between June 1962 and December 1963 by Studebaker.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studebaker
2. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2015/09/16/a-brief-history-of-studebaker-1852-1966
3. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/studebaker-goes-bankrupt

Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Magalie D.

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