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Studebaker event ready for drive to fairgrounds

Special to the OBSERVER

On Sept. 20 and 21 at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds there will be an automotive swap meet and car corral dedicated to all things Studebaker.

The event runs Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be a variety of vendors selling everything form parts to restore your Studebaker to toys, memorabilia, literature and more. There will also be cars for sale and on display. Both days special event seminars are planned for anyone who wants to come check it out. This event is free and open to the public, food available on site.

This all Studebaker Swap Meet hosted by the Kinzua Region Chapter, is in its fourth year. The group is a local chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club and as such there will be visitors coming in from several states and Canada for this meet.

In 1852, the Studebaker brothers started building horse drawn buggies, carriages and wagons. Their wagons were a primary mode of transportation as the nation migrated westward. Studebaker carriages were used by several US Presidents. In 1902, Studebaker started building electric automobiles, but soon went to gasoline power. By 1915, Studebaker was building more than 45,000 cars annually. Wagon production also continued until 1919. In 1928, Studebaker acquired Pierce-Arrow. Unfortunately, by 1933 Studebaker had gone into temporary receivership, but was on the road to recovery in 1934. In 1939, Studebaker introduced the Champion, a new economy model designed by the soon to be famous Raymond Loewy studio.

During World War II, Studebaker produced trucks and radial engines for aircraft, including the B-17. After the war, automobile and truck production resumed with a vengeance. In 1950 and 51, Studebaker offered their famed bullet-nose design. In 1953, the incredible new “Lowey coupe” was introduced. Bob Bourke, a member of the Raymond Loewy team, is credited with the innovative new design. During the last half of the fabulous fifties, Studebaker introduced their family of Hawks, merged with Packard and in 1959, responded to the growing demand for a more compact family car with the Lark.

Studebaker once again turned the automotive design world upside down in 1963 with the unveiling of the Avanti. While the Avanti was universally acclaimed, Studebaker’s days as a US company were numbered. Production ceased at the longtime South Bend, Ind., plant in 1964, Studebaker production continued in Canada until 1966.

The Studebaker Drivers Club was founded on Aug. 6, 1962 by the late Harry Barnes. The purpose of the club was, and continues to be, to honor the Studebaker automobile and all of the Studebaker-related products. The club sponsors an annual International Meet where Studebaker owners from across North America bring their Studebakers and families for a week of fun, showing their vehicles, sharing information and memories, and even participate in concours judging. The International Meets are hosted by a local chapter and held in various locations.

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