Studebaker Wagonaire

Last updated
Studebaker Wagonaire
Studebaker Wagonaire front.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Studebaker
Production1963-1966
Assembly Studebaker Automotive Plant, South Bend, Indiana, United States
Studebaker Canada, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Studebaker Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Related Studebaker Lark
Powertrain
Engine 194  cu in (3.18 L) I6
3.8 L Chevrolet 230 I6
283 cu in (4.64 L) V8

The Studebaker Wagonaire was a station wagon produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, from 1963–1966. It featured a retractable sliding rear roof section that allowed the vehicle to carry items that would otherwise be too tall for a conventional station wagon of the era.

Contents

Development

Studebaker Wagonaire's roof design was the invention of industrial designer Brooks Stevens, who was charged by the automaker's president, Sherwood Egbert, to expand the company's limited model range without spending vast amounts of capital on retooling. Stevens was also the designer of the similarly named Jeep Wagoneer, a truck-based sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was also introduced along the Wagonaire for the 1963 model year. The Jeep model remained in production almost unchanged on the same platform into the 1990s, making it the longest continuous production run in U.S. automotive history. [1]

The Wagonaire roof design was inspired by Stevens' 1959 Scimitar concept car built in Stuttgart, West Germany, by Ruetter for the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation. [2] There were three full-sized Chrysler-based vehicles built for display at the 1959 Geneva Motor Show to promote use of aluminum in building cars. [3] One of these was a hardtop (with no "B-pillar") station wagon with a sliding roof panel. [4]

The Studebaker Wagonaire was based on the standard Lark station wagon body that was modified above the beltline. The roof was designed with a panel over the cargo bay that manually retracted into and then locked into position in the forward section of the roof above the rear passenger's seat. This configuration allowed Studebaker to boast that the Wagonaire could transport items (such as standard size refrigerators) in an upright position. [5]

Production

Wagonaires seated six passengers (five with the optional front bucket seats). The car could seat eight when equipped with a rear-facing third-row seat, which was available as an option through 1965. When the third seat was ordered, the cars were fitted with special "Captive-Air" (puncture-resistant) tires, as the additional seat took up the space required for a spare tire and wheel.

Early buyers soon found that their new wagons' roofs leaked water near the front of the sliding section. This problem was addressed – with limited success – by the factory. While the early roof seals were redesigned and improved, it was also critical that the drainage tubes in the roof slider assembly be kept clear, a factor that early owners were probably not aware of. A series of service letters were sent to dealers to address this but early negative reports probably tarnished what was otherwise a very sound design.

As a result of the leak problem, fixed-roof station wagons were rushed into production alongside the Wagonaire and became available in January 1963. These sold for US$100 less than the sliding-roof wagons, but it was technically a "delete option", meaning that if the buyer wanted the fixed roof versus the slider, it had to be specifically ordered that way by the selling dealer and was not a separate model.

When Studebaker closed its South Bend, Indiana, assembly plant and continued production at its Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, plant, the company eliminated its "halo" models, the Avanti and Hawk, but continued to build Lark-based sedans and Wagonaires.

The 1964 models, which were built only in Canada after December 1963, were the last to carry Studebaker's own engines. Beginning with the 1965 models, General Motors supplied engines based on the Chevrolet six-cylinder and V8 designs. The 1965 models were available only with the sliding roof.

The fixed-roof option made a return for Studebaker's final model year in 1966, but the third seat was no longer offered. In addition, the 1966 Wagonaire finally was made a model in its own right, [6] blending the exterior features of the Commander with the interior trim grade of the sporty Daytona. There were also fixed-top Wagonaires available in 1966; while a total of 618 of all types of Wagonaires were built for 1966. [7]

Daytona version

A 1964 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire at the Four States Auto Museum in Texarkana Four States Auto Museum April 2016 29 (1964 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire).jpg
A 1964 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire at the Four States Auto Museum in Texarkana

The 1963–64 Daytona version of the Wagonaire could be equipped with a V8, Carter 4-barrel carburetor, and a column mounted shifter manual transmission with overdrive. The Wagonaire could also be ordered with any of Studebaker's available "R-series" high-performance Avanti V8 engines and the four-speed floor-shift manual transmission.

Scale models

Matchbox-Lesney made a miniature Wagonaire that included a sliding roof section. The scale model was available for many years after Studebaker stopped production of the actual vehicle. Husky Toys also manufactured a model Wagonaire that was similar in size to the Matchbox product and also featured the sliding rear roof panel.

Revival of the concept

The concept of the retractable roof was picked up by General Motors for a model in its GMC Envoy line in 2003 as a 2004 model. Advertisements for the new Envoy XUV incorrectly touted the feature as "first ever." One feature that GMC adopted that Studebaker didn't was power operation of the roof section. The Envoy XUV model was discontinued in 2005.

Related Research Articles

Station wagon

A station wagon, also called an estate car, estate wagon, or simply wagon or estate, is an automotive body-style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door, instead of a trunk/boot lid. The body style transforms a standard three-box design into a two-box design — to include an A, B, and C-pillar, as well as a D-pillar. Station wagons can flexibly reconfigure their interior volume via fold-down rear seats to prioritize either passenger or cargo volume.

Ford Galaxie American full-size car

The Ford Galaxie is a full-sized car that was built in the United States by Ford for model years 1959 through to 1974. The name was used for the top models in Ford's full-size range from 1958 until 1961, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race. For 1962, all full-size Fords wore the Galaxie badge, with "500" and "500/XL" denoting the higher series. The Galaxie 500/LTD was introduced for 1965 followed by the Galaxie 500 7-Litre for 1966. The Galaxie 500 prefix was dropped from the LTD in 1966, and from the XL in 1967; however the basic series structuring levels were maintained. The "regular" Galaxie 500 continued below the LTD as Ford's mid-level full-size model from 1965 until its demise at the end of the 1974 model year.

Chevrolet Biscayne Full-size sedan produced by Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Biscayne was a series of full-size cars produced by the American manufacturer Chevrolet between 1958 and 1975. Named after a show car displayed at the 1955 General Motors Motorama, the Biscayne was the least expensive model in the Chevrolet full-size car range. The absence of most exterior and fancy interior trimmings remained through the life of the series, as the slightly costlier Chevrolet Bel Air offered more interior and exterior features at a price significantly lower than the top of the line Chevrolet Impala.

Coupé de Ville

Coupé de ville — also known as town car or sedanca de ville — is a car body style produced from 1908 to 1939 with an external or open-topped driver's position and an enclosed compartment for passengers. Although the different terms may have once had specific meanings for certain car manufacturers or countries, the terms are often used interchangeably.

GMC Envoy American mid-size sport utility vehicle

The GMC Envoy is a mid-size SUV that was produced by General Motors. It was introduced for the 1998 model year. After the first generation Envoy was discontinued after the 2000 model year, the Envoy was reintroduced and redesigned for the 2002 model year, and it was available in the GMC line of vehicles from the 2002 to 2009 model years.

Pontiac Astre Motor vehicle

The Pontiac Astre is a subcompact automobile that was marketed by Pontiac as a rebadged variant of the Chevrolet Vega. Initially marketed in Canada for model years 1973–1974, the Astre debuted in the U.S. for the 1975 model year, competing with other domestic and foreign subcompacts that included the Mercury Bobcat, Volkswagen Rabbit, and Toyota Corolla.

Studebaker Commander Motor vehicle

The Studebaker Commander is the model name of several automobiles produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana and Studebaker of Canada Ltd of Walkerville and, later, Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). Studebaker began using the Commander name in 1927 and continued to use it until 1964, with the exception of 1936 and 1959-63. The name was applied to various products in the company's line-up from year to year. The Commander was the company's mainstream product, the Studebaker Champion was the junior model, and other models were short lived or renamed as market conditions required.

Studebaker Champion Motor vehicle

The Studebaker Champion is an automobile which was produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, from the beginning of the 1939 model year until 1958. It was a full-size car in its first three generations and a mid-size car in its fourth and fifth generation models, serving as the junior model to the Commander.

Studebaker Lark Motor vehicle

The Studebaker Lark is a compact car that was produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966.

Studebaker Scotsman Motor vehicle

The Scotsman was an automobile series produced by the Studebaker Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, during model years 1957 and 1958, and a low-priced series of pickup trucks in 1958 and 1959. The name was based on the reputation of Scottish frugality, the cars being built for function and minimalism.

Studebaker Dictator Motor vehicle

The Studebaker Dictator is an automobile produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, United States from 1927-1937. Model year 1928 was the first full year of Dictator production.

The Studebaker Conestoga was an all-steel station wagon produced in 1954 and 1955 by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana (USA). The company chose the name Conestoga as an homage to its wagon business that company produced from the 1850s into the early 20th century.

Studebaker Starlight Motor vehicle

The Starlight coupe was a unique 2-door body style offered by Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana from 1947 to 1955 in its Champion and Commander model series. It was designed by Virgil Exner, formerly of Raymond Loewy Associates.

Plymouth Plaza Motor vehicle

The Plymouth Plaza is an automobile which was produced by Plymouth from 1954 through the 1958 model year.

Rambler Classic Car model produced by American Motors Corporation

The Rambler Classic is an intermediate sized automobile that was built and sold by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from the 1961 to 1966 model years. The Classic took the place of the Rambler Six and Rambler Rebel V-8 names, which were retired at the end of the 1960 model year.

Rambler Rebel Motor vehicle

The Rambler Rebel is an automobile that was produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) of Kenosha, Wisconsin for the 1957–1960 model years, as well as again for 1966 and 1967.

Edsel Citation

The Edsel Citation is an automobile that was produced by the Edsel division of Ford for the 1958 model year. The flagship Edsel model line, the Citation was offered as a two-door convertible; all Citation sedans were produced as hardtops. Slotted above the Corsair, the exterior of the Citation was distinguished by additional stainless steel trim and a gold-anodized aluminum cove panel.

Edsel Bermuda

The Edsel Bermuda is a station wagon that was produced and sold by Edsel in 1958. Like the Edsel Villager and Edsel Roundup station wagons, the Bermuda was built on a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase shared with Ford's station wagons, as well as core body stampings.

Edsel Roundup Motor vehicle

The Edsel Roundup is a station wagon that was produced and sold by Edsel in 1958. Like the Villager and Bermuda station wagons, the Roundup was built on a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase shared with Ford's station wagons, as well as core body stampings. It had an approach angle of 21° and an overall length of 205.42 in.

The Dodge 440 is a full-size car that was marketed by Dodge from 1962 to 1964.

References

  1. "Grand Wagoneer". Road & Track. 43: 214. 1992.
  2. Jung, Uta; Jung, Helmut (2006). Stuttgarter Karosseriewerk Reutter (in German). Delius Klasing Verlag. p. 227. ISBN   978-3-7688-1829-2.
  3. Automobile year. Edita. 1959. p. 107.
  4. "1959 Scimitar". 10 September 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  5. Mays, James C. "1979 Ford Station Wagons". www.OldCarsCanada.com. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. Gunnell, John, ed. (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, 4th editition. Krause Publications. p. 787. ISBN   978-0-87341-096-0.
  7. Kowalke, Ron, ed. (1999). Standard Catalog of Independents: The Struggle to Survive Among Giants . Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p.  340. ISBN   0-87341-569-8.