By 1961 the sales of the three-year-old Lark began to decline. Although it was fresh and new in 1959, it began to look aged by 1961, and it lost more and more sales to the fresh new Big 3 compacts. With increased competition from the brand new Buick Special, Olds F-85, and Pontiac Tempest, the Lark didnt have such a good year in 1961. Fortunately, new, dynamic president Sherwood H. Egbert called upon his friend Brooks Stevens of Milwaukee, WI to redesign the aging Hawk and Lark lines for 1962 on a shoestring budget. Stevens lengthened the car and added new styling that made the car look longer, lower, and wider. He also gave the Lark a new grille that gave it the appearance of a Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes was distributed by Studebaker in the ÚS at the time). Stevenss new Lark and GT Hawk were successful, and sales increased. Studebaker was selected to pace the Indy 500 in 1962, and they hoped to supply a new Avanti to pace. Due to nagging production problems for the Avanti, Stude was forced to supply a Lark convertible (the Lark was the first compact to pace the Indy 500).Source -
The Studebaker Lark was introduced in 1959. The car had styling that contained more European flavor than American, especially with the absence of tail fins so abundant on many other American cars of its time.
The first year of its introduction was a success. The car sold well and in turn the profits were good for Studebaker. 1960 saw management and marketing changes which had a negative impact on the sale of the vehicle. In 1963, the production of vehicles by Studebaker at its main facility in South Bend, Indian, ended. In 1966, its Canadian operation ceased as well. By Daniel Vaughan | May 2005
V8 Daytona Convertible
After a fast start in 1959, Studebaker's compact Lark ran straight into the headwinds of the Big Three's first wave of 1960-61 small cars. Noted industrial designer Brook Stevens was called in to update the 1962 Lark, with pleasing results. A longer, [Read More...]
The Studebaker Lark was produced from 1959 through 1964, which was the same year that Studebaker went out of business. The Lark was a compact car that was hoped to continue the Studebaker name and provide competition for the Big Three Automobile Manufacturers. At the time of its introduction there was little competition in the compact car market. Within a few years, this changed and the sales of the Studebaker Lark began to decline.
In 1959 and 1960 the Lark was available with either a six or eight cylinder engine. The six-cylinder 170 cubic-inch unit produced around 90 horsepower while the 259 cubic-inch V8 produced an impressive 180 horsepower. By 1962 the other automakers had caught up with Studebaker and were offering more-modern versions of the compact vehicle offered with more amenities at an affordable price. In comparison, the Lark looked very dated. For 1962 Brooks Stevens modernized the interior of the Lark and increased the overall length. Sales began to improve until a strike by the United Auto Workers Local 5 at the South Bend Plant slowed production considerably.
Throughout the following year, minor improvements were made in an effort to keep the Studebaker Lark looking modern. The wrap-around windshield was eliminated in 1963. The door and roof pillars became thinner. A stripped-down version of the Lark, called the Standard Series, was introduced in 1963 and offered as a low-cost version of the Lark. It was intended as a fleet vehicle with the interior being void of any non-essential amenities. On the exterior, the vehicle bore no nameplates, just the 'Studebaker' name could be found on the fenders. It carried a sticker-price of just $1,935 making it affordable to most buyers.
Even with all the changes for 1963, it was not a good year for the Lark with only 77,000 examples being sold. The prior year had seen 90,000 Larks produced even with the strike. For 1964, the changes to the Lark were even more drastic. The new design featured aluminum grilles and squared-off headlamp surrounds. The rear end of the vehicle incorporated horizontal tail-lamps and backup lamps. The hood was flattened, along with the trunk-lid and roofline. Despite this effort, the Lark was phased out the following year, leaving the Challenger, Commander, and Daytona to carry on the Studebaker name. Sadly, Studebaker production would cease, ending production of one of the oldest American Automobile Manufacturers. The Studebaker Company had incorporated in 1868 and entered the automotive business in 1902. Their first vehicles were electric. Gas powered machines were introduced by Studebaker in 1904. They continued in business until 1966. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2006
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