September 27, 2013

9/19/13 - Studebaker National Museum

Since we were still waiting for the work to be done on the 5th wheel, we decided to visit the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. Granted, it's not the Corvette Museum, but it has more history.

It's possible that you aren't old enough to remember Studebakers.  And possibly if you are old enough to remember Studebakers, you might not be old enough to remember they started out making wagons and buggies.  We may be retired, but we're definitely not that old!
The Main Level Gallery holds the largest collection of Presidential Carriages in the US.  Think of them as the Presidential Limos of the 19th century.  Studebaker made President Harrison's Brougham and President McKinley's Phaeton.  (I have no direct knowledge of what broughams and phaetons are.  I know the difference between a carriage and a wagon: Cinderella had a carriage; people traveled west in Conestoga wagons.)  
They didn't make President Grant's Landau, but it's in the National Treasures Collection, and I think it's really cool!  I love the big back wheels.  It's almost enough to make me want to run for President.  I can't think of any other reason.
The Studebaker Brothers figured their experience with carriages would fare them well in the 20th century so they started making horseless carriages too.  Isn't this 1911 Electric Coupe the cutest little thing?  I'd choose this over a Smart Car any day!
This 1928 Commander Roadster broke records--it ran 25,000 miles in less than 23,000 minutes.  How fast did it go?  YOU do the math!
I like this spiffy two-tone job.  It's a 1931 Studebaker Six Roadster.
After making the circuit in the main gallery, we headed upstairs to look at the "modern cars".  They were having an "Art Car" exhibit--check out this wrought iron VW called Casa Linda Lace.
My dad had a Studebaker when I was little.  It was black and it looked like a Studebaker.  I have no idea what model it was, but it was one of the "Bullet-Nose" kind.  I was a mere child, and mostly I remember photographs.  This is as close as I can get to what it might have been.  George wasn't any help figuring it out either.  (sigh)
The Avanti came out while I was in high school.  It was a pretty good race car too, but I guess it was too futuristic for a lot of people.  Then Studebaker went out of business in 1963.  If you're going to need a swan song, I guess something as classy as the Avanti would do.
We stopped at the little cafe for drink and sat at a table with hubcaps in the middle.  Can't you just see hear someone saying, "Yes, I know we're closing down the factory, but be sure to save the hubcaps so we can use them for decorations later."  I'm sure they have a lot more hub caps stuffed in nooks and crannies all over the place.
Downstairs in the basement is a Studebaker and Humvee military exhibit on the right and double-rack storage for cars they rotate through the upstairs museums on the left.  They call it "Visible Vehicle Storage".  Works for me.
Want to see more Studebakers?   Click the link:  Studebaker Natl Museum 

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