The last Studebaker automobile rolled off the assembly line in Hamilton, Ontario, on March 16, 1966.
It signaled an end to the marque’s long uphill battle against the Big Three. Plagued by declining sales, Studebaker quietly drove off into the sunset with little fanfare.
Fast forward 50 years, and Studebaker stalwarts are making sure Larks, Hawks, Presidents, Land Cruisers, and Champions find their rightful place in the pantheon of American originals.
Members of the Ohio Regional Studebaker Drivers Club restore and display these classics for all to appreciate. The club will hold its Annual Studebaker and Packard Show at Summit Racing in Tallmadge, OH on Saturday, August 27.
The 24-year-old show is open to Studebakers, Packards, and other independent makes. Separate parking will be provided for ‘Big Three’ collector cars that attend.
Billed as the “largest one-day Studebaker show in the world,” the cruise-in typically draws vehicles from several states and Canada, highlighting the gamut of Studebaker’s output. You’ll see 1930s Dictators; Avantis; Transtar and Champ trucks; the amphibious M29 Weasel (a World War II tracked vehicle); factory-supercharged ’57 Golden Hawks; and even an occasional nineteenth-century hay wagon.
Studebaker got its start in the 1850s as a wagon maker.
Ask club president Don Morgan why he likes Studebakers, and he’ll tell you that he was a Mopar guy who switched his allegiance to honor his father.
“He had a plain-Jane ’55 two-door sedan,” Morgan said. “He said it was the best car he ever owned. I’ve only had one minor breakdown in a Studebaker, and I’ve driven them all over the United States.”
Today, Morgan owns a deluxe edition of the same car that hooked his father.
Some club members have remained loyal to the marque since the day they started working in Studebaker’s South Bend, IN factory, while others enjoy driving the vehicles their relatives helped assemble there.
According to Morgan, many devotees see Studebakers as symbolic of taking the road less travelled.
“We wanted something different — something unique that not every Tom, Dick, and Harry had,” he said.
With more than 12,500 members and four chapters in Ohio, the Studebaker Drivers Club is one of the largest car clubs in the world. The Northeast Ohio chapter has 160 members who carry the torch for Studebaker’s innovative, underdog spirit. Studebaker pioneered things like self-adjusting brakes, the ‘hill-holder’ manual transmission, and low silhouette styling.
Morgan, who has served as club president for almost 25 years, started the show in Barberton, OH, with 23 Studebakers turning out for the inaugural event. The gathering moved to Summit Racing eight years ago. At its peak, the show has drawn up to 250 Studebakers, Packards, and other independent-make vehicles from the likes of Nash, Hudson, Crosley, Auburn, AMC, and King Midget.
In addition to its August show, Morgan says club members enjoy monthly outings to museums and other places of interest, exchanging information about their vehicles, and simply having a good time together. Anyone is welcome to join, whether they own a classic vehicle or not.
You can see photos from past Studebaker (and Packard) shows here and here.