From the ForgottenBook: Brothers Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana in 1852, and before long, after John Mohler Studebaker bought out his brother Henry, they expanded their business to covered-wagon maufacturing. Studebaker benefited from Civil War business and western expansion, and became the largest wagon business in the world, topping $1 million in sales by 1875, but that was only the beginning…Studebaker made a successful transition to motorized vehicles as the new century dawned, producing its first motorized vehicle, the Electric Runabout, in 1902. As it became clear that gasoline-powered autos were going to emerge, Studebaker’s first gas-powerd vehicle, the Studebaker-Garford, rolled out in 1904.
By the time its Crown Heights showroom opened in 1920, Studebaker had sold off its original wagon works to a Louisville, KY firm: it was the only former wagon manufacturer to make a successful transition to automobiles. The 1935 Champion was likely Studebaker’s most successful model in its history, while its production peaked at over 268,000 cars in 1950; Studebaker continued production until 1966. The Studebaker imprint is currently owned by Cooper Industries, the hardware and tools manufacturer that itself has an over-130 year pedigree.
Yet one more old Studebaker factory or assembly plant can be seen here on Liberty Avenue west of Merrick Boulevard. Not as spectacular, perhaps, as the one on Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights or another in Harlem, but this one is distinctive enough. It is currently ocupied by the Liberty Storage Company.
Photo: Gary Fonville