Friday, February 24, 2012

New Owner Plans to Resurrect Studebaker with a Hybrid Twist in the 21st Century

Studebaker Seen On www.coolpicturegallery.us
Even though you may know the name and perhaps even seen one of its models, chances are that you were either too young to remember or not even born yet when the Studebaker Automobile Company closed shop in 1966.

Fast forward to today and the company may have a second chance in life - hopefully with better designs than the official CGIs you see here... According to a report from FoxNews, Ric Reed, who bought the rights to the Studebaker brand in 2001, has revealed new plans to resurrect the famous nameplate.

Reed, who runs the Denver, Colorado-based Big Kahuna apparel company, told the news site that he wants to revive Studebaker's classic monikers such as the Lark, President and Hawk for the new model series, adding, however, that the cars themselves will be 21st-century hybrids.

"As the entrepreneur at the helm of Studebaker Motor Company, it is my earnest goal to create vehicles that are in some way reminiscent of classic Studebakers, or in other words, definitively Studebaker, yet brought into the 21st Century, and again to see Studebaker Motor Company the American Icon it once was," says Reed on the company's website.

"It is also my dream to develop or reopen factories, employ Americans in those manufacturing and assembly plants, which shall be on American soil. I desire to make vehicles that not only compete, but have a significant cutting edge in a highly competitive world market," he adds.

Reed said he wants to employ hybrid technology because he thinks that electric cars still have a long way to go. He intends to use the Hydristor, a device invented by Tom Kasner for a sports car that John DeLorean wanted to make before his demise. The Hydristor is a hydraulic transistor, which Kasmer claims, is akin to a highly efficient CVT gearbox.

Before rolling out his brand-new models, Reed says he may cooperate with another, yet unnamed company, to build a US$70,000 limited run of a retro-themed modern iteration of the Chump pickup truck in order to raise some cash and mainly attract investors.

Studebaker was founded originally in 1852 as a manufacturer of wagons used by the military, as well as farmers and miners. It produced its first automobile, an electric model (which is ironic given Reed’s opinion about EVs) in 1902.

Among other achievements, Studebaker was the first ever carmaker to employ a monoblock engine in 1913 and the first U.S. automotive company to open an outdoor proving ground (in 1926).

By 1929, its range comprised of 50 models. The same year, the infamous Wall Street Crash caused the Great Depression, which resulted in a downturn in sales; by 1933, however, Studebaker was once again profitable.

After World War II, though, the situation started going downhill as small carmakers couldn’t match the price war between Detroit’s Big Three nor were they able to afford the increasing labor costs and in 1954 Studebaker was in the red.

Merging with Packard didn’t help either, nor did poor management decisions. Sales dropped, plants closed and the press made extensive reports on the carmaker’s problems. Finally, on March 16, 1966, the last Studebaker rolled off of the assembly line.


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