Studebaker Lark

The Studebaker Lark is a "compact car" which was produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966.

From its introduction in early 1959 until 1962, the Lark was a product of the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. In mid-1962, the company dropped "Packard" from its name and reverted to its pre-1954 name, the Studebaker Corporation. In addition to being built in Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana, home plant, the Lark and its descendants were also built in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from 1959 to 1966 by Studebaker of Canada Limited. The cars were also exported to a number of countries around the world as completed units and completely knocked down (CKD) kits.

Lark-based variants represented the bulk of the range produced by Studebaker after 1958 and sold in far greater volume than the contemporary Hawk and Avanti models. Beginning with the 1963 Cruiser, the Lark name was gradually phased out of the company catalog and by early 1964, Lark-based models were being marketed under Commander, Daytona and Cruiser nameplates only. The Studebaker company, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1952, ceased automobile production in 1966.

The Studebaker model lineup was changed little for 1965; indeed, without opening the hood, it is difficult to distinguish them from the 1964 models.

With the end of engine production in South Bend, Studebaker's Hamilton plant no longer had a source of engines. The company was forced to search for an outside supplier. The small engineering staff quickly gathered and thoroughly tested engines from both General Motors and Ford. The Ford engines (basically the Falcon/Fairlane six-cylinder and V8) would not fit without expensive modifications to the cars, while the GM (Chevrolet designs built by the company's McKinnon Industries subsidiary) engines fit perfectly.
The only hang-up was how to mate the new engines to the Borg-Warner transmissions that the company preferred to continue using.

Fortunately, according the late E.T. Reynolds, a Studebaker engineer, Checker Motors had started using Chevrolet engines in their taxicab and Marathon lines at about the same time that Studebaker began considering doing the same. Like Studebaker, Checker had long used Borg-Warner transmissions, and that company's engineers had created an adapter to mate them to the engines. Checker made its parts available to Studebaker, and the company began purchasing engines from GM for the 1965 model year. The chosen powerplants were basically the same as found in the Chevrolet Chevy II. The Studebaker six was replaced by a 194 cu in (3.2 L) 120 hp (89 kW) six, and the well-known 283 cu in (4.6 L) 195 hp (145 kW) V8 replaced both Studebaker's 259 and 289 engines.

For 1965, the Commander was offered in two- and four-door sedan form along with a Wagonaire. The Cruiser four-door sedan was still available, as was the Daytona Wagonaire. The Daytona convertible, hardtop and four-door sedan models were all discontinued, however. Aside from the Wagonaire, the only other 1965 Daytona was the vinyl-roofed two-door Sports Sedan, which drew its inspiration from the late-1964 Commander Special. All models continued the 1964 design with only minor detail changes, the most significant being that the Commander gained standard quad headlamps, replacing the dual lamps that had been standard the previous year.

Sales, unfortunately, continued to plunge; fewer than 20,000 Studebakers were built in 1965, and some blamed the poor results on Studebaker of Canada's decision to make no year-to-year style changes (a plan that worked well for Volkswagen, but not for a company like Studebaker which had long made annual changes). Others, many Studebaker loyalists included, felt that the GM-powered cars built in Canada were not true Studebakers. The term "Chevybaker" was coined early on for these cars, bringing to mind the "Packardbaker" nickname of the 1957 and 1958 Packards built on the Studebaker President body.

Source: Wikipedia, 2013

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