Studebaker Centennial in 1952

Studebaker Corporation, the oldest manufacturer of highway vehicles in the world, starting with horse-drawn carriages, celebrated its centennial year on February 16, 1952. Fifty years prior Studebaker marketed its first motor vehicle, an Electric Runabout. The company announced that it was “simple in construction, safe, easy to operate, free from vibration and noise” and that “friction and resistance had been reduced to a minimum.”

At the centennial dinner, Paul G. Hoffman, former Studebaker president and chairman of the board, remarked “Back in the horse-drawn days, one slogan of the company was ‘The Sun Never Sets on a Studebaker.’ Since it went into the automobile business, the slogan has become a reality.”

The Centennial Commemorative Medallion
Centennial Commemorative Medallion

Studebaker was honored in numerous ways during the year. The most notable of these was a 1952 Studebaker Commander V8 convertible selected as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 30, 1952. Studebaker Vice-President, P. O. Peterson drove the car to pace the race. The Studebaker Commander V8 and Champion Starliner Coupe were the newest additions to the lineup.

Not only that, but a pageant depicting the 100-year history of the company was presented to spectators on race morning, including everything from covered wagons, an array of historical Studebaker vehicles, and a Studebaker produced turbo-fan jet engine for the B-47 bomber.

P. O. Peterson with the Studebaker pace car
P. O. Peterson with Studebaker pace car
Photo Courtesy of Studebaker National Museum

Floyd Clymer, publisher of Automobile Topics, commented on the centennial: “To be sure, the road across those 100 years has not been entirely carpeted with velvet. Studebaker was hit with the full impact of the national depression in the 30’s, but through the will and enthusiasm of a few hardy men, and the building of quality products, Studebaker weathered the storm and emerged stronger than ever. Today it is in a strong financial position.

These centennial celebrations were during the days of America’s post-war recovery. In late 1963, Studebaker stopped production in South Bend, IN, and moved operations to Hamilton, ON, Canada, which ceased production in March 1966.

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