The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” will kick off in the facility’s new multi-purpose meeting room tomorrow, February 16th @ 4:15 – 6:15 pm.
As many of you know, I am the kick-off speaker for the “Speakers Series” in conjunction with their exhibition, Indiana Automobiles: Precision Over Production. This exhibition has more than 35 historic, Indiana-built passenger cars, and several iconic race cars honoring Indiana’s automotive history.
My popular presentation “Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History” and other presentations will inform members and guests. Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History shares some of the legends, facts and figures that reflect Indiana’s role in America’s automotive heritage, when marques such as Duesenberg, Stutz and Studebaker propelled the state into a position where the number of Indiana auto manufacturers rivaled Detroit.
Check out my Monday blog posts at Cruise-IN.com documenting some the cars in the exhibit.
See you at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” tomorrow, February 16th.
Another of the sportiest cars in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is the 1963 Studebaker Avanti.
In retrospect, it appears that Studebaker saved its best for the last—the Avanti. In early 1961, 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 Raymond Loewy 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 January 1962, Studebaker suffered the longest strike in its history over “personal-time” per shift. The company and labor union finally settled on 34 minutes per shift, which still exceeded the industry norm by 10 minutes. When the new Avanti was unveiled to the public in April 1962, production problems crept up with the fiberglass body. Production for 1962 moved up a little to 86,974 units produced. In addition to the Avanti, another unique model debuted for 1963—the sliding rear-roof, four-door, Wagonaire station wagon. Plus, the Lark and Hawk lines were slightly restyled.
As the 1963 calendar year opened, Studebaker started with a little over $50 million cash on hand. Production of the 1964 models started in August. The Lark with a squared-up design and new model names were the only new additions. The Hawk and Avanti remained unchanged for 1964.
Sales for the 1963 model year closed out at 67,918 cars produced, but the cash position shrank to $8 million. In October 1963, with an 86-day supply of unsold cars on hand, the production lines were stopped. On November 25, Egbert resigned. The halt of production in South Bend was made public on December 9, 1963. Automotive operations would shift to Hamilton, Ontario, closing there in March 1966.
For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.
Indiana once vied for Michigan’s title as the automotive titan of the United States. It was at a time when the names of automobiles like Duesenberg, Stutz and Cord brought worldwide acclaim to the Hoosier state. Indiana’s contributions to automotive history have been numerous. Tilt steering, cruise control and hydraulic brakes are just three examples of the innovations created by Indiana automotive pioneers. Yet the innovators themselves have become nearly forgotten–overlooked as we take their inventions increasing for granted as part of the standard equipment on today’s models.
Indiana’s automotive innovation began with Elwood Haynes’ kitchen experiment on an internal combustion engine in the fall of 1893. Haynes’ research and development led to the demonstration of his “Pioneer” automobile along Pumpkivine Pike, outside Kokomo, on July 4, 1894. Haynes and two passengers traveled at a speed of seven miles an hour and drove about one and one-half miles further into the country. He then turned the auto around, and ran the four miles into town without making a single stop.
“I remember as the “little machine” made its way along the streets we were met by a “bevy” of girls mounted on wheels.,” Haynes noted. “I shall never forget the expression on their faces as they wheeled aside, separating like a flock of swans and gazing wonder-eyed at the uncouth and utterly unexpected “little machine.”
In 1898 the Haynes-Apperson Company was incorporated and auto production was on its way in Indiana.
By the late 1800s Indiana’s plentiful supply of lumber had also lured several industries into its borders, including the makers of carriages and wagons. The automobile industry in the early 1900s was a natural offspring of carriage manufacturers, which could provide not just parts but the skilled labor as well. Five Indiana manufacturers entered commercial automobile production in the late 1890s.
By 1900, The Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company was one of the few firms in the country with annual production exceeding 100 units. In the 1900s, 74 different models were introduced by Indiana manufacturers. These models range from A to Z, with names like Auburn, Cole, InterState, Lambert, Marmon, Maxwell, National, Overland, Premier, Richmond, Studebaker, Waverly, and Zimmerman.
The growth spurt between 1910 and 1920 separated the nation’s auto makers into two groups–the “mass-produced auto giants” and the “craftsmen.” Most of Indiana’s auto makers chose to be “craftsmen” and purchased automotive parts and assembled them by hand. Thus, these companies were small, and many became known for producing high-class and high-priced cars. Nearly every one of the Indiana cars that became well-known were in this category, includ¬ing names like Duesenberg, Cord, Stutz and Cole, appealing to the upper end of the consumer market.
The teens saw the introduction of another 69 Indiana models. Included in this group are Elcar, Empire, Jack Rabbit, Lexington, McIntyre, McFarlan, Monroe, Parry, ReVere, and Stutz.
Until about 1920, there seemed to enough demand for both the “mass-produced” and “high-quality” cars. However, a series of eco¬nomic factors at this time helped contribute to the decline of Hoosier auto making. Price slashing and an expansion-crazed environment trapped Indiana manufacturers in a philosophical battle with the Michigan titans. Hoosiers were ill-prepared for this kind of competition, and most wanted to remain craftsmen choosing to concen¬trate on “higher priced” vehicles instead of diversifying. Plus, the economic recession in the early 1920s added more financial burdens on the population, which became increasingly interested in the “mass-produced auto.”
Michigan had the financial backers willing to commit financial resources to give the state’s auto manufacturing the boost it needed. The Hoosier financial community generally proved to be of little assistance to its own local automobile industry.
Indiana in the twenties saw this decline to 22 models introduced. Among these were Blackhawk, Cord, Duesenberg, Elgin, Erskine, H.C.S., Lafayette, and Roosevelt.
Studebaker was the lone Hoosier survivor of the depression, continuing production for another 30 years, ending in December 1963.
Commercial production of the automobile in America began a little over 120 years ago, and America’s lifestyle has never been the same. Indiana automakers have made many contributions to that history. So, the next time you drive your car, you might wonder where you’d be without Indiana’s continuing automotive innovation and contributions.
For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.
Throughout the past, Indiana manufacturers have made major contributions to the automobile. For example, in 1902, the Marmon motorcar had an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine and a revolutionary lubrication system that used a drilled crankshaft to keep its engine bearings lubricated with oil-fed under pressure by a gear pump. This was the earliest automotive application of a system that has long since become universal to internal combustion piston engine design.
Would you believe tilt-steering was introduced in 1903by Haynes? The 1903 Haynes use of a tilting steering column allowed easy access for the driver and/or passenger upon entering of leaving the vehicle. This feature didn’t become popular on most production cars until about seventy years later.
In 1911 Haynes Automobile Company was the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, head lamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.
Studebaker introduced a deferred payment plan in 1916 with an initial 25 percent cash payment and 12 equal monthly payments. In less than ten years, 50 percent of all cars sold in America were bought on time.
In 1922, The Model A Duesenberg was the first U.S. production motorcar with hydraulic brakes, the first with an overhead camshaft, and the first U.S. straight eight engine. Ninety-two of these luxury cars were sold in 1922, a number that rose to 140 in 1923.
Stutz installed safety-glass windshields as standard equipment on its 1926 high-priced motorcar models.
The first motorcar with front-wheel drive, The Cord L-29, was introduced by E. L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Company. Front-wheel drive didn’t become popular for another 50 years. Also in 1929 Marmon warranted a listing in the Guiness Book of Records for its factory-installed radio.
The Cord 810 introduced in 1936 was a sleek modern motorcar with advanced features that include disappearing headlights, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, a steering column mounted electric gear pre-selection unit, and was the first automobile in this country to adopt full unit body construction.
Studebaker was the first American car to offer windshield washers in 1937.
Ralph Teetor, Perfect Circle Corporation president, invented cruise control debuting in 1958 on the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor models.
For the 1964 model year, its last in Indiana, Studebaker broke with the majors and became the first U.S. maker to offer seat belts as standard equipment.
That’s the story of Indiana automotive innovations. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.
Dennis E. Horvath will kick off the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” in the facility’s new multi-purpose meeting room on February 16th @ 4:15 – 6:15 pm.
As many of you know, I have written several books and made numerous presentations about Indiana’s automotive history and culture. I am honored to kick-off the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” with my popular presentation “Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History” and a discussion at the museum for members and guests.
Mileposts in Indiana Automotive History shares some of the legends, facts and figures that reflect Indiana’s role in America’s automotive heritage, when marques such as Duesenberg, Stutz and Studebaker propelled the state into a position where the number of Indiana auto manufacturers rivaled Detroit.
This presentation is a perfect companion to the museum’s current special exhibition, Indiana Automobiles: Precision Over Production, which currently has more than 35 historic, Indiana-built passenger cars, and several iconic race cars on display. Check out my Monday blog posts at Cruise-IN.com documenting some the cars in the exhibit.
See you at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s “Speakers Series” on February 16th.