1963 Studebaker Westinghouse Pickup Truck Concept

1966 -- The End of the Road for Studebaker Vehicles

Instrumentation in the 1963 Studebaker Westinghouse pickup truck concept was
Instrumentation in the 1963 Studebaker Westinghouse pickup truck concept was
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Studebaker decided to close its South Bend plant in December 1963, and a few years later, in 1966, came the end of the road for Studebaker vehicles.

The Westinghouse project apparently prompted Studebaker to think about a whole line of "forward control" trucks as a mid-1960s replacement for its elderly Transtar models.

Faurot's diesel-tractor proposal suggested this, as did another artifact from Studebaker's last days in South Bend: a 3/8-scale model for an altogether more comely COE pickup.

This envisioned simple construction like the Westinghouse design, but wore a curved front swept gracefully upward in an unbroken arc from bumper to roof. It looked nice; what a shame that nothing further was done with it.

But curved or boxy, car or truck, no future Studebaker had a prayer of production once the board of directors decided to flee South Bend in the face of cash reserves fallen desperately low.

Studebaker thus closed its crumbling high-overhead Indiana complex in December 1963 and forgot all about trucks, not to mention the Avanti and GT Hawk.

Egbert was duly fired, and a new management team bet what meager funds were left on heavily restyled Larks built at the firm's Canadian operation in Hamilton, Ontario. But it was all in vain, and after 114 years, Studebaker gave up on wheeled vehicles altogether in mid-1966.

Today, the prototype Westinghouse pickup sits cheek-to-jowl with other historic Studeys at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. It's a place well worth visiting, if only to be reminded that innovation so often flourishes in adversity -- and that no enterprise is immortal.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: