Thomas E. Bonsall
More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story is a comprehensive look at the Studebaker company’s automotive heritage. This legacy is traced from its beginnings in the wagon business in 1852, through the last Studebaker to roll off the assembly line in 1966, and is extended with its Avanti progeny to the early twenty first century. Author Thomas E. Bonsall’s copious research yields a detailed description that is easy to follow.
Studebaker serves as an excellent model for the American automotive industry. Studebaker’s vehicular business was fifty years old by the time of the introduction of its first electric automobile in 1902. The saga continues with its popular models in the 1920s and is moderated by industry and company events in the 1930s. Studebaker, like most other auto manufacturers, enjoyed success in the post World War II period, and was a late victim of the declining market for independent auto producers in the mid to late 1950s. Bonsall provides the background and facts about Studebaker’s successes and brushes with bankruptcy in the 1930s and 1950s and its eventual withdrawal as the last independent producer in 1966.
As the title suggests, the Studebaker story is mostly one of success. Studebaker automobiles were long noted for their quality and popularity. The 1953 Starliner and the 1963 Avanti, designed under Raymond Loewy’s direction, are widely regarded as among the most innovative examples of American industrial design.
The author provides a human touch by describing the character of the key individuals and personalities from executives to engineers and styling consultants. Personalities range from the five conservative Studebaker brothers to the flamboyant Sherwood Egbert.
He gives a full account of the Studebaker story by introducing the reader to the people and products that are an integral part of the saga. The author’s depth of research and love of the subject comes through in this account of Studebaker’s heritage. Bonsall does an excellent job of relating the history as well as the personalities involved in the Studebaker story.
More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story, Thomas E. Bonsall, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, © 2000, ISBN: 0-8047-3586-7
Peruse More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story at Amazon.com
Back to: Book Review – reviews of current and other auto-related books