T he Studebaker National Museum has procured two exclusive vehicles and an exquisite 1920s dealership showroom sign to add to its collection. The distinguished new additions consist of a 1964 truck prototype and a 1959 Lark experimental, particularly notable as one-of-a-kind vehicles. The dealership showroom sign will accent the Studebaker National Museum’s galleries.
The recently acquired 1964 Truck Prototype bears an exceptionally dynamic history. Because it was Studebaker’s policy to dispose of prototypes by dumping them into the “Studebaker Graveyard,” until 1983 it was believed that the few commercial vehicle prototypes built by Studebaker were lost forever. However, rumors of the survival of this cab-over style Studebaker truck prototype led to its eventual discovery in a barn in Muskegon, Michigan.
The 1964 Truck Prototype was built in South Bend and styled by Studebaker’s last South Bend styling chief, Randy Faurot. Numerous standard Studebaker parts are used on the prototype and design concepts such as big glass areas and flat metal panels similar to those used on Studebaker’s postal Zip Vans are visible.
The Studebaker National Museum also has added a one-of-a-kind 1959 Studebaker Lark Experimental to its collection. Fitted with a 1953 Porsche engine and drive train in a rear engine configuration, this Lark can be seen in the Studebaker National Museum’s visible storage located on its lower level.
The 1959 Studebaker Lark Experimental is an engineering study of the viability of a rear-mounted engine in the lark. This study was commissioned by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Curtiss-Wright held a large amount of Studebaker stock in the late 1950’s and managed Studebaker operations at this time.
The dealer showroom sign dating from the 1920s was donated by Bob and Alice Valpey. This memorable sign was available to all Studebaker dealers to welcome prospective customers to their showrooms. The framed sign is backpainted glass with guilded letters. A similar sign once graced South Bend’s Scherman-Schaus (later Freeman-Spicer) dealership showroom in the 1930’s.
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 1-888-391-5600 or visit our web site at www.studebakermuseum.org.