The Studebaker Prototypes

Gold Prototype.jpgThe Studebaker National Museum of South Bend, Indiana is pleased to announce the acquisition of two prototype Studebaker vehicles into the collection. These two vehicles were designed by Raymond Loewy Associates in 1961 as proposals for future Studebaker cars. These hand-built prototypes illustrate the story of what new Studebakers may have looked like had the company remained in business.

In 1961, Studebaker president Sherwood Egbert commissioned freelance designers Raymond Loewy and Brooks Stevens to submit proposals for new Studebaker automobiles. When Studebaker closed the South Bend plant in 1963, the prototypes miraculously survived, as it was common practice in the industry to destroy such vehicles once they outlived their usefulness.

Brooks Stevens kept his prototypes in his private museum, while the Loewy vehicles were purchased by the Avanti Motors Corporation in 1965. They were displayed at the Studebaker National Museum occasionally during the late 1970s and early 1980s and moved with the Avanti Motors Corporation to Youngstown, Ohio in the late 1980s. The Stevens prototypes were acquired by The Studebaker National Museum in 1997, but the Loewy vehicles remained at large since leaving South Bend.

The two Loewy prototypes carry many of the Studebaker Avanti’s styling themes. One prototype was designed in a notchback style and the other in a fastback design and built by coachbuilder Pichon-Parat of Sens, France. Both prototypes were designed as “three doors”, with a two-door configuration on one side and a four-door concept on the other. This allowed two different design interpretations to be shown on one vehicle. The vehicles carry Studebaker engines and drive trains. They are currently on display in the Museum’s Upper Level Gallery.

The acquisition of these vehicles was made possible by the Studebaker Drivers Club’s Restoration Fund, the Keystone Region of the Studebaker Drivers Club, the Avanti Owners Association International, Studebaker International and Don Jones.

The Studebaker National Museum is located at 201 S. Chapin Street in downtown South Bend. It is open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Sunday 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $6.50 for seniors over 60 and $5.00 for youth ages 6-18. For more information call the museum at (574) 235-9714 or toll free at (888) 391-5600.