A visit to the Studebaker National Museum

There’s more to South Bend than Notre Dame football. The Indiana town is also the birthplace of Studebaker, and today it’s the home of the Studebaker National Museum.

 

The Studebaker brothers were compulsive collectors. They saved everything, including the Conestoga Wagon that brought them from Pennsylvania to South Bend, where they started a blacksmith shop in 1852. Soon, Henry and Clem were supplying hundreds of wagons to the Union Army, and the Studebakers became the country’s largest wagon builders. When the company entered the automobile business in 1902, Studebaker was already a half-century old.

But all things pass, and when the Studebaker Corporation. ceased to exist in 1966, the company donated to the people of South Bend the sum total of over a century of never throwing anything away, including that same Conestoga Wagon, 30 other vehicles and the records of the former Studebaker and Packard companies. This trove became the core of a nonprofit center dedicated to the preservation of Studebaker history, the Studebaker National Museum.

In 2005 the museum moved into a beautiful new facility with three floors of exhibit space and a common entrance with the Northern Indiana Center for History. You can find more info, including visiting hours, admission prices, and directions here at the museum’s website. 

A quick heads-up: Photography here is a challenge. The galleries are very dimly lit, presumably to reduce ultraviolet exposure, which is great for the artifacts, but can be troublesome for cameras, or for middle-aged eyeballs for that matter.  Also, the vehicles and the huge assortment of associated memorabilia are jammed in tightly together on the display floor, making it difficult to get a clear, unobstructed shot at any one thing in particular.

 

All that said, you will see vehicles here you can’t find anywhere else because they don’t exist anywhere else, including:

+   The fabulous but doomed 1956 Packard Predictor concept, star of that year’s Chicago Auto Show

+    Two unusual 1962 Studebaker prototypes constructed by Pichon-Parat of France, each with two-door and four-door configurations on opposite sides

+   A 1959 Lark test mule with a complete rear-engine Porsche engine and drivetrain transplant commissioned by Curtiss-Wright

+  Three Studebaker Indy cars from 1932 and 1933, when the Speedway’s production-based junkyard formula was in effect

…and much, much more from the Studebaker historic collection. Here’s a small sample in the slide show below.

 

1958 Packard Hawk right rear
1933 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 34
1913 Studebaker Model 25 Touring
1956 Packard Predictor
1947 Studebaker Champion Station Wagon
Giant Torrington roller bearing
1940 Studebaker Champion Coupe
1932 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 37
1910 EMF Model 30
1963 Studebaker Zip Van U.S. Postal Service
Studebaker opposed four prototype engine
1962 Studebaker Pichon-Parat notchback concept
1962 Studebaker Avanti Raymond Leowey Associates
1934 Bendix Prototype
1932 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 18
1932 Studebaker President St. Regis Brougham
Three Studebaker Indy cars
Wright Cyclone B-17 engine
1961 Studebaker Hawk
1959 Studebaker Lark Curtiss-Wright test mule Porsche rear engine
1924 Studebaker Light Six
1940 Studebaker President Clube Sedan
1935 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan
1939 Studebaker Champion design model Raymond Loewy Associates
1964 Studebaker Pursuit Marshal police special
1916 Studebaker SF-Four Roadster
1922 Studebaker Big Six Child's Hearse
1963 Studebaker Avanti Bonneville racer
1927 Erskine Sedan
1962 Studebaker Pichon-Parat fastback concept
1937 Studebaker President body drop display
1962 Sceptre prototype
1907 Studebaker electric roadster
1958 Packard Hawk RF
1928 Studebaker Commander Roadster
1954 Studebaker Commander hardtop scale model
1912 Flanders 20
1904 Studebaker Model C Rear-Entrance Tonneau
1937 Studebaker President independent front suspension
1942 Studebaker Champion Series 90 Sedan

1958 Packard Hawk right rear

1933 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 34

1913 Studebaker Model 25 Touring

1956 Packard Predictor

1947 Studebaker Champion Station Wagon

Giant Torrington roller bearing

1940 Studebaker Champion Coupe

1932 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 37

1910 EMF Model 30

1963 Studebaker Zip Van U.S. Postal Service

Studebaker opposed four prototype engine

1962 Studebaker Pichon-Parat notchback concept

1962 Studebaker Avanti Raymond Leowey Associates

1934 Bendix Prototype

1932 Studebaker Indianapolis Special no. 18

1932 Studebaker President St. Regis Brougham

Three Studebaker Indy cars

Wright Cyclone B-17 engine

1961 Studebaker Hawk

1959 Studebaker Lark Curtiss-Wright test mule Porsche rear engine

1924 Studebaker Light Six

1940 Studebaker President Clube Sedan

1935 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan

1939 Studebaker Champion design model Raymond Loewy Associates

1964 Studebaker Pursuit Marshal police special

1916 Studebaker SF-Four Roadster

1922 Studebaker Big Six Child's Hearse

1963 Studebaker Avanti Bonneville racer

1927 Erskine Sedan

1962 Studebaker Pichon-Parat fastback concept

1937 Studebaker President body drop display

1962 Sceptre prototype

1907 Studebaker electric roadster

1958 Packard Hawk RF

1928 Studebaker Commander Roadster

1954 Studebaker Commander hardtop scale model

1912 Flanders 20

1904 Studebaker Model C Rear-Entrance Tonneau

1937 Studebaker President independent front suspension

1942 Studebaker Champion Series 90 Sedan

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7 thoughts on “A visit to the Studebaker National Museum

  1. Having thoroughly enjoyed the former location of the Stude Museum, visiting the new a couple years ago was an incredible experience. I can’t say enough for everything South Bend, the Studebaker Drivers Club, many individuals and corporate contributors did to make this all come together. It is easily one of the top auto destinations in N. America. Nothing Studebaker-stodgy about this state-of-the-art museum.

  2. If I ever get to South Bend, it will be to visit the Studebaker National Museum. I’ll even drag my wife in, kicking and screaming. ;-)

  3. I was unaware the Hawk body was ‘Packarded’ We got all the Stude models here in Oz. I have never seen a Packard in that style before.

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