photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Ken Leonard | all galleries >> Uptown Whittier Car Show 2003 Vol. #1 > 1959 Studebaker Lark 4-door Sedan - Click on Photo for much more info
previous | next
1959 Studebaker Lark 4-door Sedan - Click on Photo for much more info

1959 Studebaker Lark 4-door Sedan - Click on Photo for much more info

other sizes: small medium original
shards 19-Apr-2009 19:53
In the mid to late 1960s, I inherited a faded 4 door Deluxe Lark, with black walls and am radio. It had rubber floor mats, and I added carpet and ran speaker wires to the rear package trey and hd surround sound before surround sound was cool.

I had more fun as a 16 - 19 year old in that car. It smoked when I cranked it up and the w shield wipers would not work if the engine had to strain going up an incline. I just prayed that it would not rian, while taking on a steep grade.

Man, I had some fun times in that car.
Pete Krentz 10-Jan-2008 02:58
Mike if you still need pictures of a 61' Studebaker shoot me an e-mail and i'll take pictures of mine and send them to you.
mike 22-Apr-2007 23:49
i am looking for images of the lark 4 door 1961, if theres any known of give me a hand, thanks mike
TDK 07-Dec-2006 03:56
That brings back some memories, thanks. Our "Student Baker" Lark was green and did yeoman's duty hauling the family around Tucson for ten years.
Rick Johnson 07-Aug-2005 04:34
1959 Studebaker Lark 4-door Sedan. The car that saved Studebaker, well......for awhile anyway. Studebaker had been in the transportation business since 1852, building Conestoga wagons for westward expansion, freight wagons for the Union army during the Civil War, Buggies for President Grant, Electric Runabouts just after the turn of the century, and gasoline powered cars and trucks since 1904. During that long history, Studebaker had endured hard times on occasion. In 1933, it was during the depression, and the company temporarily went into receivership. Then again during the recession of 1938, when a handsome new 1939 Champion designed by Raymond Loewy, and competively priced with Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth, saved the day for Studebaker. By 1958 Studebaker was in deep financial trouble again. From a record high post war production of 320,884 during the 1950 model year, by 1958, Studebaker production had slipped to a dismal 44,759, and posted a loss of over thirteen million dollars. The merger with Packard in 1954 hadn't helped. Studebaker drained all the assets of the company in the merger and the last car to bear the once proud Packard name was really a Studebaker with a Packard badge.

Harold Churchill, President of Studebaker, was convinced that the only way to save Studebaker was to build a small economy car, much like a smaller, competively-priced Champion had done for Studebaker in 1939. Development time was unbelieveably short from its inception in mid-1957 until its official introduction of the '59 model in the Fall of 1958. There was precious little capital to develop a new car. But a design team headed by Chief Stylist Duncan McRae and Bob Doehler worked miracles. The basis of the new design was the central section of the 1958 Studebaker body that dated back to 1953. The front and rear of the body was chopped, resulting in a 27.4 inch reduction in overall length, and the wheelbase was likely shortened from 116.5 to 108.5 inches. The result was a car three inches shorter and an inch and a half narrower than the Rambler American compact that had been introduced by American Motors the year before, but at the same time, had almost as much interior room as a full-size Ford Galaxie. It was the first compact on the market that could provide genuine comfortable seating for six adults. Up front was a smart new Hawk-inspired grille. Both six and eight cylinder engines were offered. The six was a flat-head design that displaced 169.6 cubic inches and developed 90 horsepower, whose origin dated back 20 years to the original 1939 Champion. The V-8 was an overhead valve design rated at 180 horsepower and a displacement of 259.2 cubic inches. Though considered too heavy for such a small car, it had an excellent reputation as tough, reliable, lively, and remarkably economical. There were three transmission choices: three-speed column shift manual, manual with overdrive, and a three speed automatic from Borg-Warner coupled to a torque converter. There were four models: two and four door sedans, a two door station wagon, and a two door hardtop. There were two trim levels, the standard DeLuxe and the fancier Regal.
The 1959 Lark was a resounding success. Sales increased a whopping 250 per cent, and Studebaker made a profit for the first time in many years. Total production of '59 Larks was 131,078. Another successful model year followed in 1960 with the addition of a smart new convertible and a more utilitarian four-door station wagon to the Lark lineup. Production was 127,713. In 1961, the Lark saw minor trim changes, a new dash, and a new "Skybolt" overhead valve six was introduced increasing horsepower to 112. But Lark was facing increasing competition in the marketplace, not only from Falcon, Comet, Corvair, Valiant,and the Rambler American, but from a trio of new GM compacts from Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. Sales dropped 50% and the Lark's once considered "cute" styling was growing stale.

Industrial Designer Brook Stevens was hired by Studebaker to revamp the Lark and the Hawk for model year 1962. On a practically non-existent budget and an impossible timeframe, Stevens once again achieved a miracle for Studebaker. He grafted a Thunderbird-inspired roofline on the Hawk, and the resulting Gran Tourismo Hawk resulted in a 139% increase in Hawk sales. Turning his attention to the Lark, he increased the wheelbase to 113 inches on all four door sedans to eliminate the Lark's "stubby" appearance. A Mercedes-inspired grille modification resulted in a larger more impressive grille with a heavy wraparound chrome band. All Larks now featured quad headlights. The rear fenders were stretched and the Lark received new round taillights. Stevens added a new sporty series called "Daytona" in hardtop and convertible models featuring bucket seats and an available floor mounted Borg-Warner four speed transmission. In addition to the Daytona series, Stevens came up with the "Wagonaire", a new station wagon model with a sliding roof panel that provided a sunroof while enhancing the utilitarian value of the vehicle as a cargo carrier. Stevens' accomplishments resulted in yet another Studebaker comeback as sales increased to the 93,000 level, despite a 38 day strike early in the model year.

In 1963, the Lark received an optional new 289 cubic inch V-8, and an array of other performance options became available. Production exceeded 75,000 units. In 1964, Stevens again took the same basic package and made it look like a brand new design. Front fenders, deck lid, and sculptured roof panel had all new sheet metal, and up front was a new trapezoid-shaped mesh grille. The attractive new car didn't sell well, and production slid to about 44,000, the same level as 1958 before the introduction of the Lark. Production ended at South Bend with the '64 model year. But the Lark derivitive bearing the Studebaker name was marketed by Studebaker-Canada at its Ontario plant for two more years, most of these with GM power plants. A once proud company over a century old had run out of time and miracles, but there for a while, the Lark had provided inspiration and hope and remarkable achievements against impossible odds.
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment