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#113 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 14, 2008 (8:58 am)
OK, my last post on the subject!
I had heard that Nance, in a fit, had stuff destroyed (he was, after all, President of Studebaker-Packard and was a Packard guy), but thousands of Packard documents, post-merger and pre-merger, including blueprints, made their way into the Studebaker National Museum archives.
#114 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 14, 2008 (10:21 am)
Bill's post #113 above was moved from another topic and relates to an on-going discussion of the demise of Packard when it was taken over by Studebaker.
#115 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 14, 2008 (10:26 am)
I regard much of that as apologist revision of history. That's not quite how it happened. We have eye-witnesses to the rape and pillage of Packard.
I think the quick collapse of Studebaker rather proves the point. It was sicker than the company it tried to rescue.
Packard engineering was outstanding compared to Studebaker. it always enjoyed a good reputation in the auto industry.
Who else pioneered active suspension, electronic transmission control and lock up torque converters in 1956?
The Studebaker Lark could have been built in 1935 for as "advanced" as it was technically.
To be fair, one could say the same for the Ford Falcon and Mustang.
As one Packard man said about Studebaker: "They couldn't build a Packard, but we helped them build them some very good Studebakers".
#116 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [andys120]
Sep 14, 2008 (8:51 am)
The overhang is the long-hood short-deck theory, which Studebaker pretty much pioneered with their Hawk series in '56 and everyone else started doing around the '65 model year. Look at a '64 Pontiac anything...it has a short-hood and long deck!
There is a story behind the upright windshield. I heard Otis Romine, a Studebaker truck engineer who pitched in on the Avanti, say at a seminar about 15 years ago, that Studebaker's president, Sherwood Egbert, a 40-something 6'4" ex-Marine, kept knocking his head on the Avanti seating buck every time he came into the engineering studio and insisted on increased headroom...hence the upright windshield.
#117 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 14, 2008 (11:38 am)
Packard bought Studebaker...you do know that, right? When it came down to what had to be done to survive.....the board/shareholders/Curtiss Wright decided Packard had to go as they were the bigger loser by '56. Packard's sales took a 67% dive from 1955 (Studebaker's only a little better, a 33% dive from '55--source, Business Week, April 21, 1956).
There is no question that Packard had much more cash in bank at the time of the merger. Would they themselves have survived the serious production and sales decline issues of '55-56, or the change in the marketplace in '57-58 as cars in that market found less favor (like Edsel and Mercury sales then)? No one will know I guess. But Studebaker survived them and lasted a decade longer than Hudson (AMC was really mostly 'Nash' after the merger), Kaiser-Frazer, Willys automobiles, etc.
S-P losses during the merger years:
1955 $29.7 million (Source: Business Week, April 21, 1956)
1956 $43 million (Sources: too many to enumerate)
1957 $11 million (Sources: too many to enumerate--75% reduction of loss with reduced sales from '56--Packard gone)
1958 $13 million
1959 $28.5 million profit
Studebaker built automobiles until March 17, 1966--ten years after the last Packard was built. This is a 'quick demise'? And the Canada plant was making a small profit on their production when they shut down. Problem was, the other divisions were doing much better and the Board wasn't happy with a small profit.
In fact, Studebaker Corp. stayed in business, just didn't build cars. The Parts and Service Division remained in business in South Bend until 1972, and in fact had contracts with dealers around the country and in Canada to be 'authorized Studebaker parts and service dealers' until that time, if the dealer wished to do so (our small town Chrysler-Plymouth-AMC dealer picked up the official franchise in Jan. '69 after our longtime Stude dealer got out of the business). There are pictures I could post of the factory Studebaker Parts Depot in South Bend taken in 1971!
And if you saw the file cabinet upon file cabinet of Packard stuff in the archives at the Studebaker National Museum, including build sheets for '55 and '56 models, I think you wouldn't be able to make the blanket statement, "Studebaker destroyed all of Packard's records".
And come on, 180 hp 4-barrel with automatic, power steering and brakes, Twin Traction, 2-door hardtop '59 Lark could have been built in 1935? We all know what they say about opinions, everybody has one, but staying somewhat factual can help too!
#118 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 14, 2008 (11:54 am)
No, didn't say that. I said that Studebaker threw thousands of Packard archives into the dumpster. Whether some outraged historian rescued them or not is beside the point, right?
Studebaker market share in 1963 was .9%...that's right, Point Nine of one percent.
The company was a walking corpse even in 1954 when the S-P merger occurred. They were losing money faster than Packard, and in the merger, Nance allowed Studebaker to control the board of the new company.
Nance even tried to sell S-P immediately to Ford, and considered liquidating the company in 1955.
Packard stockholders were the most enraged, as thousands of them wrote to Nance before the merger to warn him that this was the worst possible idea.
Turns out, Packard stockholders were more educated than most, and they were right. Studebaker was sicker than Packard, it turns out.
Packard should have just died a dignified death instead of allowing itself to be looted and trashed IMO.
Studebaker was barbaric. The way they got rid of many of the longterm Packard people was to give them offices and jobs in Siberia, with nothing to do. They just humiliated them enough so that they'd quit. One man I know who worked for Packard for 25 years got about a $46 a month pension from Studebaker.
My opinion was that Studebaker executives actually committed fraud in this deal. They doctored and hide the true financial status of their company--a company I might add that was threatened with bankruptcy even before the merger, as later investigation showed.
I think "The Fall of the Packard Motor Company" by James Ward pretty much spells out the whole ugly story.
#119 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 14, 2008 (12:02 pm)
Yes, Everything in your above post, I have indeed read before and believe as accurate--including the .9% market share in '63. I'm able to admit that. Some Studebaker employees got no pension after the Dec. '63 South Bend shutdown. In fact, the ERISA laws about pensions did come about as a result of the South Bend shutdown.
Studebaker built about 80,000 1963-model Lark, Cruiser, Hawk, and Avanti cars. Trucks in total I'm not sure, but I know 5,800 pickups on top of that. Packard built 28,000 1956-model Packards and Clippers. What would their market share have been in '56? Even sicker than .9%. Packard built 200 cars in Feb. '56 (per Ward's book).
The Studebaker National Museum archives consists almost entirely of the records of the Studebaker Corporation as given to the City of South Bend after auto production ceased. They don't have tons of Packard records because 'some historian pulled them out of the dumpster' in Detroit. Sheesh.
You like Packard better than Studebaker, and me, the other way around. I don't think either of us will ever convince the other, otherwise! And that's OK of course. I just felt that initially, your posts (admittedly, your opinions) pretty much towed the typical Packard-buff line and in some places were factually questionable by means of omission of some significant other things going on at the same time, which deserved to be mentioned in context and are widely verifiable in Studebaker circles.
#120 of 160 Re: Studebaker Avanti [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 14, 2008 (12:25 pm)
Well somebody rescued some Packard archives because we do have some of them. I'm not surprised then that it wasn't anyone related to Studebaker But enormous amounts were lost unfortunately.
It's really not about "liking" one company or another. It's about trying to look at what really might have happened. I have no horse in this race, really.
From all I've read, I see a lot of treachery here, from Nance, from Studebaker, and from regulators turning a blind eye to various violations.
Perhaps it's just all the human failings that come about from desperation.
I guess my only prejudice might be that I would have rather seen Packard survive than Studebaker. I think it was a much more interesting car in 55-56, I mean technically. Studebaker products were antiquated, as befits a capital-starved company.