Studebaker - was an American wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the military.
According to the official Studebaker history written by Albert R. Erskine, History of the Studebaker Corporation, South Bend, Indiana, published in 1918, "The ancestors of the Studebaker family first arrived in America at the Port of Philadelphia on September 1, 1736, on the ship Harle, from Rotterdam, Holland, as shown by the original manuscripts now in the Pennsylvania State Library at Harrisburg, and included Peter Studebecker, age 38 years; Clement Studebecker, age 36 years; Henry Studebecker, age 28 years; Anna Margetha Studebecker, age 38 years; Anna Catherine Studebecker, age 28 years. The last part of the name, "becker," was afterwards changed to "baker." The tax list of what was then Huntington Township, York County, Pennsylvania, in 1798-9, showed among the taxable were Peter Studebaker, Sr., and Peter Studebaker, Jr., wagonmakers, which trade later became the foundation of the family fortune and the corporation which now bears the name.
In Albert Russel Erskine's official history, John Studebaker, father of the five brothers, born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, was the son of Peter Studebaker. In any event, John Studebaker (1799–1877) moved to Ashland, Ohio in 1835with his wife Rebecca (nee Mohler) (1802–1887) and taught his five sons to make wagons. They all went into that business as it grew to gigantic proportions with the country.
The five Studebaker brothers—founders of the Studebaker Corporation.
This history of Studebaker trucks is an attempt to bring together in one document a reasonably comprehensive chronology of Studebaker truck developments and production.
The attack on Pearl Harbor may have been a surprise, but the US had been preparing for possible entry into WW II long before December 7, 1941. In 1940, Studebaker produced about 2000 militarized K25 trucks for export, mostly to France. (Unfortunately, many were later captured by the German Army.) And in common with most other American industries, Studebaker began producing military systems under contract to the U.S. Government in 1941. Its two most famous wartime products were the Weasel tracked vehicle and the US6-model 2?-ton military truck, which went into production in South Bend in June 1941. By the end of that year, 4724 had been built. It was built in both 6x6 and 6x4 forms on 148-inch and 162-inch wheelbases, and shared some running gear components with the similar GMC CCKW 2?-ton, 6x6 military trucks. In order to get the trucks in production as soon as possible, Studebaker used their M-series truck cab (modified for swing-open windshields, but also with the M-series truck’s wind wings) and the same Hercules JXD L-head, 6-cylinder gasoline engines that had been used in the 1937-1940 J25 and K25 trucks. The swing-out windshields mandated windshield wipers mounted above the windshields instead of on the cowl. This modified cab was designated as the model C9 cab. GMC CCKW trucks had somewhat rounded front fenders, while the Studebaker US6 trucks had front fenders that were flat on top with a 90-degree turn downward behind the front tire. The wind wings and the square-ish front fenders are easy identification features of Studebaker-built WW II 2?-ton military trucks.
At the request of the Army, Studebaker also developed an open-cab version of the US6 in 1942, and built 10,006 of them during 1942 and 43. These trucks used a completely different cab design without wind wings. Manufacture of the open-cab trucks was assigned to other companies in March 1943, after which Studebaker built only closed-cab trucks using the M-series model C9 cab.
Four-wheel drive was available on 1/2 and 3/4-ton models Studebaker E-series truck beginning in 1957. Studebaker did not make the 4WD equipment themselves, but (in common with Chevrolet and GMC at the time) purchased the hardware from NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company).
The Studebaker-Packard Corporation was born upon the “consumation of the purchase by Packard Motor Car Company of the business and assets of The Studebaker Corporation on October 1, 1954”.
At the end Studebaker, actually Studebaker-Packard, was still turning out military trucks. This M35A1 was built by the company in South Bend, IN in 1962. A year later the company was gone. Author's photo from the 2014 MVPA Portland, IN gathering added 9-30-2014.
The Korean War triggered a requirement for new trucks for the Army and Marine Corps, and Studebaker proposed an all-new 2?-ton 6x6 military truck. Unfortunately, Reo’s bid won the competition. However, Reo was not able to meet the production targets, and sub-contracted with Studebaker to build trucks to Reo’s design. Studebaker ended up building 19,535 M34 and M35 2,5-ton, 6x6 military trucks in 1952, and another 9,898 in 1953. These were strictly assembly operations, with no Studebaker-unique content added. They did, however, help to keep the truck production line running.
The most notable anomalies were the quasi-famous U.S. Navy 4x4s. In 1959, Studebaker had bid on a Government contract to build 65 V8-powered, ?-ton pickups with 4WD for the U.S. Navy. Studebaker won the bid, but the contract was not awarded until February 196035, by which time the company was (theoretically) no longer offering a 4WD ?-ton pickup to domestic customers. Ever resourceful (and as they had in previous years), the company went back into production of the previous year’s models. A single V8-powered 4E7D was built in April 1960, followed by 29 units in May, and the final 35 in June 1960. Since these 4WD trucks were built to a 1959 specification, they carried 4E serial numbers, but were included in Studebaker’s 1960 production records. Accordingly, they are included in the 5E production totals above. Total calendar year 1960 Champ and Transtar production was 8008 B/U and 2046 CKD, for a total of 10,054 units. Studebaker’s latest contract for U.S. Army trucks ended in May 1960; 2334 units were built in the first five months of the year.