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The Legacy of the Studebaker Land Cruiser
The 1935 Studebaker met with mixed results. Unfortunately, production figures by body style for the 1935 models do not exist, but Studebaker's total passenger car production in the U.S. was just over 41,000. This represented a considerable reduction from the 1934 figures, and Studebaker's overall share of the new-car market fell to 1.38 percent, the lowest in company history. (In spite of its mediocre sales, however, Studebaker was able to celebrate its emergence from receivership in March with Hoffman becoming president and Vance chairman of the board.) Undoubtedly, the number of Land Cruisers sold on all three chassis amounted to less than three percent of the total, which makes these cars exceedingly rare today.
Fastback styling was a popular fashion among automobile designers in the early and mid Thirties, though only a relative few of them got off the drawing boards. The Chrysler and DeSoto Airflows of 1934-37 were the only mass-produced examples, but for all their innovative features, they did not gain wide public acceptance.
Others that come to mind in that era include the Lincoln-Zephyrs and the extremely limited-production Cadillac Aero-Dynamic coupe. Various others-some no more than experimental prototypes-sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic, but none managed to gain a foothold, since most required a rear-engine placement to gain full advantage of the teardrop design.
As we know, automobile styling is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and the buying public is quick to reinforce this fact. The Thirties, however, witnessed great strides in body design, from the stodgy box-square design left over from the Twenties to a much more streamlined car at decade's end. For one to fully appreciate this, he needs only to examine a typical 1930 four-door sedan and compare it with a 1940 model. Next, set a 1992 model against one built in 2002. In this way, we can more fully appreciate the great strides taken in the Thirties-and cars like the Studebaker Land Cruisers that made those steps tangible.
Not that the Land Cruiser was entirely ignored when it first came out. On the next page, learn about the Studebaker Land Cruiser's trip to the 1933-1934 World's Fair.