Mercedes-Benz is one of the automotive industry’s oldest and most respected brands. During the mid-1950’s, Daimler-Benz, producers of Mercedes-Benz (M-B) automobiles, was looking to expand its market in the U.S. An agreement was reached in 1957 for Studebaker-Packard to serve as the U.S. distributor for Mercedes-Benz products. M-B, which sold just 36 cars in the U.S. in 1953, now had a ready-made dealer network, and Studebaker, sorely in need of cash, received $5 million. Selected Studebaker dealers added M-B to their lineup, including South Bend’s own Freeman-Spicer. Sales of M-B automobiles increased dramatically. In 1959, M-B retailed just over 12,000 cars in the U.S.


Following Studebaker’s closing of its South Bend plant in 1963, Daimler-Benz began negotiating a buyout of its contract with Studebaker. In the fall of 1964, an agreement was reached for $9 million and Daimler-Benz set up its own North American distribution network. Certain Studebaker dealers, including Freeman-Spicer, continued handling Mercedes-Benz following Studebaker’s shutdown. The M-B brand continues to be an industry leader, thanks in no small part to Studebaker introducing is products to U.S. consumers.

About this Series

Studebaker’s Cousins was on display at the Museum in 2014.  This series of articles comes for the displays from that exhibition.