Tag Archives: Studebaker President

What Everybody Ought to Know About Early Auto Advertising in the 1930’s

In the 1920’s, advertising became more lifestyle oriented with the use of lavish scenes like yachting, beaches, and gardening. In the early 1930’s, we saw a reversion to black and white printing with photos and sidebars. Tangible sales points were tied into product features.

Marmon Sixteen ad
Marmon Sixteen ad

An upscale Marmon Sixteen ad from 1931 is very trendy for the time. The Art Deco black and white illustration of the Sixteen is set off against a silver background. The minimalist copy touted, “The Marmon Sixteen is the modern automobile. Its beauty of line and appointment is the beauty of the simplicity and efficiency of today.” “Both in action and appearance the Marmon Sixteen redefines the motor car in terms of the present.” It included brief equipment specifications and pricing.

1932 Studebaker ad
1932 Studebaker ad

In the mid 1930’s, Studebaker produced The Wheel magazines for the auto show seasons. On the cover of the 1932 edition, we see a chic woman wearing furs showing a President convertible roadster to an older woman seated in a Studebaker electric. Inside the magazine there are eight pages of color illustrations interspersed with 12 pages of copy and black and white photographs of the “Triumphant New Studebakers.”

1933 Stutz brochure
1933 Stutz brochure

Stutz produced a 32 page brochure for its SV-16 and DV-32 models in 1933. The brochure had 11 full-page black and white photographs of its classy machines opposite descriptive copy of the SV-16 and DV-32 models. The copy advertises value, economy, and advanced design, along with two and half pages of new features. The brochure is very optimistic for a company facing the challenges of the middle depression.

He drives a Duesenberg ad
He drives a Duesenberg ad

Duesenberg introduced its lifestyle advertisements during the mid-1930’s. One ad emphasized an almost full-page illustration of a gentleman on his yacht braced against a storm with the minimum tagline, “He drives a Duesenberg.” Another showed a women talking to her master gardener with five other gardeners working in the background on a palatial garden. The Duesenberg in question is inferred, it is not shown anywhere. These are probably the epitome of automotive lifestyle advertising.

Most auto advertising of this era is more restrained, but in the upper end of the market we see the premier of lifestyle advertising.

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Raymond Loewy Industrial Design Icon

Many recognize Raymond Loewy as one of the founding fathers of industrial design. Loewy and his company had a hand in designing everything from cars, streamlined railroad locomotives, refrigerators and Coca-Cola’s classic bottle.

Broadway Limited w 38 Stude Pres
Broadway Limited with 1938 Studebaker President
Courtesy Dennis E. Horvath archives

Loewy had always enjoyed drawing automobiles, and in 1932 he restyled the Hupmobile line. The 1938 model year marked the beginning of one of the most famous affiliations in Studebaker’s history. By then, Loewy, one of America’s most famous industrial designers, consulted with Studebaker and developed the all new line-up. These full-width bodies were offered in Commander and President versions. Studebaker’s innovation of windshield washers premiered in this model year. Thanks in part to the popularity of Loewy’s designs, Studebaker sales rose. Studebaker moved to tenth place in domestic auto sales with 92,200 units.

It is interesting to note that the streamline design for the 1938 Studebaker President was influenced by Lowey’s design of the 1937 Pennsylvania Railroad Broadway Limited Locomotive #3768.

Loewy with 53 Studebaker
Raymond Lowey with 1953 Studebaker
Copyright © 1953 Studebaker Corporation

The all new “Studebaker Century Models of 1953” were previewed to dealers in January of that year. The Loewy-influenced Starliner hardtop coupe is probably one of Studebaker’s most recognizable post-war offerings. The coupes are known for their sleek low profile that flows in an unbroken line from front to rear. They have improved weight distribution and a reduced center of gravity.

Visibility was improved by about 33 percent with wrap-around windows at the front and rear. The sedans were not quite as stylish and complicated as the engineering requirements for working on the same chassis. When the dust settled, a total of 186,484 cars were built.

1963 Avanti
Copyright © 1962 Studebaker Corporation

In retrospect, it appears that Studebaker saved its best for the last—the Avanti. In early 1961, Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert began concept drawings for a new car that would repair Studebaker’s tarnished image. With his desire to introduce a new car at the New York International Auto Show in April 1962, he enlisted Loewy’s firm to look at his drawings and return with a new model proposal. In the first part of April, Loewy’s one-eighth scale clay model and styling drawings were in South Bend. Egbert introduced the Avanti full-scale styling model to the board of directors on April 27, 1961. By the fall of 1961, orders were placed with outside suppliers for items that Studebaker could not produce internally.

The Avanti is best known for its under-the-bumper air intake and “Coke-bottle,” wedge shape design. The fiberglass body sat on a modified Lark Daytona convertible chassis. Avanti’s safety theme was prominent throughout with a recessed and padded instrument panel with red lights for night vision, built-in roll bar, and safety-cone door locks. The car was also one of the first American passenger cars to use caliper-type disc brakes.

In spring 1962, the Avanti was named the honorary pace car with a Studebaker Lark Daytona convertible selected as the official Indianapolis 500 pace car. I clearly remember Pole Day 1962. What a sensation! I was drawn to the Avanti’s aerodynamic Raymond Loewy styling, which I believe is timeless even today like his other industrial designs are.

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