Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fred and Howard's Studebaker Lark

I was going through the New York Times recently and I ran across an advertisement for a 1960 Studebaker Lark. The ad read, “The frumpy Lark nearly saved Studebaker, but few people saved Larks. It’s an ideal start to a collection of defunct brands. $10,000-$11,000.”

The photo of the plain automobile reminded me of a photo that I took back in 1996 of Fred Holdridge and Howard Burns in front of a Studebaker Lark that they owned. It was getting serviced at the German Village Shell station that was operated by the Vern Thacker family.

I don’t know the year of Fred and Howard’s pristine vehicle but I’m guessing that it was a 1960. According to a page on the Wikipedia website, “The Studebaker Lark is a "compact car" which was produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966. From its introduction in 1959 until 1962, the Lark was a product of the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. In mid-1962, the company dropped "Packard" from its name and reverted to its pre-1954 name, the Studebaker Corporation. In addition to being built in Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana, home plant, the Lark and its descendants were also built in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from 1959-1966 by Studebaker of Canada Limited.”

Studebaker-Packard was a full-sized car and the Studebaker Company celebrated its one-hundredth year in 1952. But the company was losing money and the Lark was introduced as a compact that would save the company. It sold well for the years 1959 and 1960 and had two levels of trim; Fred and Howard’s was the Deluxe.

It seems obvious that Fred and Howard had their Lark painted, if not restored, by the looks of it’s exterior and chrome. If I rode in the car, it was not more than once. They would get new cars every couple of years and the Studebaker was just a whim for them, but I remember it sitting behind their German Village apartment until 2001.

The car was sold after Howard’s passing in 2001 and replaced with an electric Gem Car.

Arnett Howard

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