Studebaker Lark (Generation 2)

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Studebaker Lark

Studebaker Lark (Generation 2)

1962 - 1963
Country:
USA
Engine:
L6 or V8
Capacity:
170 cu in
259 / 289 cu in
Power:
210 - 335 bhp (V8)
Transmission:
3 speed auto
Top Speed:
n/a
Number Built:
1962 90,000+
1963 77,000+
Collectability:
3 star

In an effort to reverse the downward sales trends new Studebaker-Packard president Sherwood Egbert called upon noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens, to effect a striking yet cost-effective 1962 update. Stevens lengthened the car body, especially at the rear, and modernized the interior. Studebaker had entered into a distribution agreement with Daimler-Benz in 1957, and the design of the Lark's new grille was intended to mimic the famed Mercedes-Benz radiator shell.

Studebaker's board of directors was reportedly extremely pleased with the extent of the changes Stevens was able to make.In addition to the new styling, Studebaker joined the bucket-seats-and-console craze of the early 1960s with the introduction of the Daytona. In the same way that the Cruiser had become the top-of-the-line four-door for 1961, the new Daytona replaced the Regal as the top-trim convertible and hardtop, although Regal versions of these body styles remained available.

All four-door sedans for 1962 moved to the Cruiser's 113-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase body. However, the Cruiser remained the only four-door with rear-door vent windows. Two-door models gained a half-inch in wheelbase, up from 108.5" to 109".

The only model that was deleted from the 1962 lineup was the Deluxe series two-door wagon, which had become less popular since the four-door wagon's debut in 1960. However, some leftover 1961-model two-door wagon bodies were fitted with the new 1962 front clips. This was done to fill a U.S. government fleet order. It is not certian how many were built, although the number was certainly very small with none known to exist today.

The immediate effect of Stevens' restyle was improved sales and had it not been for a strike called by the United Auto Workers Local 5 in early 1962 at Studebaker's South Bend home plant, the company could have easily sold more than 100,000 of the new cars. Despite the strike, the company sold over 90,000, far more than had been sold in 1961.

For 1963, Stevens again restyled the Lark. The dated wrap-around windshield was eliminated and the entire "greenhouse" was lightened via the use of thinner door and roof pillars. Doing away with the thick framing that had been a much-criticized feature of Studebaker's bodies since 1953 imparted a much more modern appearance, although most purchasers failed to notice this.

The interior comprised a completely new instrument panel with full, direct-reading gauges was installed, although the designers were not able to integrate the available air conditioning into the panel; the evaporator and vents were still hung beneath the dash. For the ladies, an "Exclusive Beauty Vanity" with a mirror and makeup tray was fitted in the glove compartment on most models. Aside from the Avanti, the biggest product news for Studebaker in 1963 was the introduction of the sliding-roof Wagonaire. Designed by Stevens, the Wagonaire was seen as the greatest advance in station wagons since the late-1940s introduction of the all-steel body.

Elsewhere in the lineup, the Cruiser was given heavy promotion as a sensible luxury car. The brochures referred to it as "America's First and Only Limousette." To separate it from the Lark, Studebaker eliminated the "LARK" lettering from the front fenders and added fancier side trim. Inside, buyers could choose luxurious broadcloth upholstery, lending credibility to Studebaker's luxury push for the Cruiser. The Daytona line was expanded for 1963, adding the new Wagonaire to the continuing convertible and hardtop. The former highline Regal trim was pushed down to replace the 1959-62 Deluxe, and the new Custom trim level, which used side trim similar to that used on the 1962 Daytonas, stepped into the Regal's former place. Daytonas received new side trim that started as a narrow molding on the front fenders and widened toward the rear. The basic design of this trim was shared with the Cruiser.

In mid-1963, Studebaker introduced the Standard series, a totally stripped line of Larks similar to the 1957-58 Scotsman. While it was obviously a Lark, it bore no Lark nameplates, just "Studebaker" scripts (first used on 1956 Hawks) on the front fenders. In addition, the Standard, in keeping with its no frills image, carried no side trim, and had a plainer interior with no vanity, just a simple glove box with a lid that opened at the top. Mainly promoted as a fleet vehicle, the Standard offered good value; the two-door sedan carried a base price of only US$1,935. This price was very competitive with other companies' small- and mid-sized cars.

On the engineering front, disc brakes made by Bendix (first offered on the Avanti) were made available and at $97.95, they were a good value and greatly improved the cars' stopping power. In the engine lineup, in addition to the existing six-cylinder and V8 engines of the past, new options were added for the 1963 model year.  "R1" and supercharged "R2" 289 V8s from the Avanti were made available. Buyers choosing those engines late in the model year could also order a "Super Performance Package," which added a host of high-performance goodies aimed at making the cars not only go faster, but handle better. Cars equipped with the package were called "Super Larks."

Unfortunately, though the 1963 models were seen as an extension of the improvements made the previous year, the buying public by this time was looking for more than just a mild change, and sales fell to around 77,000 cars.

Engines for the 1962-1964 Studebaker Lark Daytona Hardtop and Convertible:

Type
Size
Horsepower
Years
L6
194 cid
95
1962 - 1964
OHV V-8
232.6 cid
120
1962
OHV V-8
259 cid
180-195
1962 - 1964
OHV V-8
289 cid
210-335
1962 - 1964
OHV V-8 (Supercharged)
289 cid
290
1963 - 1964
OHV V-8 (Supercharged)
304.5 cid
335
1964
Studebaker Lark Wagon

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