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Monday, September 10, 2012


Back when I first entered the auto driving fraternity, I had a very unpopular preference for the "underdogs" manufactured by Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, and Willys Overland. My brother Bud's first car was a Hudson "Terraplane." It was a very reliable car and needed little inthe way of maintenance. After trading it in, he bought a 1940 Nash "Business Coupe;" a car that I really fell in love with, but at age 15 going on 16, never had a chance to buy it. When I came of age, I bought a '37 ford business coupe that rattled and rode like a horse drawn cart. Along came my buddy Ernie Plaag who sold me his 1940 Studebaker President. I sold my Ford for 25 bucks and bought Ernie's Studebaker; the car I wish I had today. It was the most reliable car I owned in my early years of driving. I had a very strong attraction to the "orphan" manufacturers who were the victim of a commonly held position back in the day that my choice of cars was not good due to the lack of trade in value when compared to the big 3. If a car was kept in good condition, you would always get a good price at trade in. I didn't buy that shop-warn propaganda then, and I don't buy it now, these 60 years later. I graduated to a 1949 Willys "Aerolark" that was for sale at Reedman Motors when they maintained a little lot at North Olden and Prospect Street back in the early '50's. What a wonderful car it was! It rode like a dream and handled the same way. I loved the "hill holder" on my '40 Studebaker and the Weather Eye on my brother's Nash. Those orphan cars were quality built and had many features that the big 3 offered in later years. My last encounter with orphans was my 1959 Rambler 4 door cedan. Two tone green with push button transmission on the dasy. I wish I had kept that one, too. Orphans? Maybe to those stuck in the "Big 3" circle, but many of us orphan owners know better!


rayfromvillapark said...

Hi Tom, Since your speaking about automobiles, I may be the only one to post a comment on the subject. I am an admirer of the all of the Independent manufacturers. It was an endless fight for them to go up against the big three; a fight they would never win. I've owned only two of them, a 1949 Packard DeLuxe Eight sedan, and a 1963 Studebaker Gran Torismo Hawk. Both, were excellent cars. My favorite, is the Packard brand. Unfortunately, they placed too much emphasis on their lower priced cars, and the top of the line, lost their luster. Their biggest mistake, was merging with Studebaker. They had no idea how antiquated the Studebaker manufacturing facilities were. The unions bled Studebaker dry, and they couldn't build cars competitively against the big three. Their overhead was just too great. My favorite Packards, only because of the era in which I grew up, were the 1941 through 1947 Clippers. The styling was very advanced. They were no match for the superb V12s of the 1930's, but I couldn't relate to them as a kid. Only in magazine ads and brochures. Next in popularity, for me, would be Studebaker. There are so many favorites; but the 1941 & 1942 Raymond Lowey styled Presidents made a statement to me. The 1947 Starlite Coupes, the 1950 bullet nose, and the Bob Bourke designed 1953 Starliner Coupes were all beautiful cars. In later years, the 1962 through 1964 GT Hawks, and the 1963-64 Avanti's were outstanding. I guess I would be remiss, in not mentioning the 1956 Packard powered Golden Hawk and the 1957-58 Supercharged Golden Hawks. Wow! So many wonderful Studebakers. My favorite Hudsons, were the new post war step down 1948 through 1950 Commodores, which culminated in the Twin H powered big six 1951 through 1954 Hornets. I wasn't a big Nash fan, but over the years, the 1949-50 streamlined Ambassadors, have grown on me. You are 100% correct, in your admiration for the Weather Eye heating system; one of the best in the industry. We shouldn't leave out Kaiser and Frazer. Just the fact, that Henry Kaiser got them into production in early 1947, was a manufacturing miracle. They took over the Willow Run bomber plant, and built plenty of cars, in the war starved early post war years. The Darrin styled 1951 Kaiser was a beautiful car, with an anemic six cylinder engine. Even a supercharger, added in 1954, couldn't interest the fickle public. So the Independents did have a run with some outstanding cars, but they just couldn't compete with the big three. rayfromvillapark

Donald O. Caselli said...

My parents bought a new 1950 Studebaker Land Cruiser and used it until moving up to a new 1957 Studebaker President, which was driven 256,000 miles, then on to a Studebaker Lark in 1964. Going backward, my father had a poultry farm in Barnegat, NJ and bought a new 1947 Studebaker truck, had a dump body installed and used it up through 1986.