Today is International Drive Your Studebaker Day, a great day to get out in your Studebaker and tour the countryside.
Studebaker actually started in 1852, making wagons for farmers, miners and the military. From its inception, though, Studebaker cast itself as an innovator.
In 1902 Studebaker manufactured an electric car which Thomas Edison bought. Studebaker was an innovator in a lot of other areas, too, such as the overdrive, under-the-dash hood releases and high-performance models such as the Super Hawk, Golden Hawk and Silver Hawk. In fact, Studebaker was a stiff competitor with the Corvette that made its debut in 1953.
For a long time, a lot of people considered Studebakers maybe a little 'homely'. But just like everything else, homely has its time to be considered handsome.
And that time is now. Studebakers are probably at their highest point now in collectability. Whether it's their round-nosed pickups that bear a striking resemblance to the Dodge pickup or the Canadian-made Avanti, Studebakers have come into their own.
In fact, they're ready for a comeback.
In 2008, Ric Reed bought Studebaker from Tom Raines and moved the company to Arvada, Colo.
"As the entrepreneur at the helm of Studebaker Motor Company, it is my earnest goal to create vehicles that are in some way reminiscent of classic Studebakers, or in other words, definitively Studebaker, yet brought into the 21st century, and again to see Studebaker Motor Company the American Icon it once was," Reed said on his website. "It is also my dream to develop or reopen factories, employ Americans in those manufacturing and assembly plants, which shall be on American soil. I desire to make vehicles that not only compete, but have a significant cutting edge in a highly competitive world market."
Reed's mission is indeed noble. Despite the fact that the South Bend, Ind. plant ceased production on Dec. 20, 1963, and the last Studebaker automobile rolled off the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, assembly line on March 16, 1966, Studebakers to this day have a solid reputation of value, quality and excellent fuel mileage - things that appeal every American consumer.
It will be interesting to see how Reed's Studebaker venture fares.
And it will be great to see another great American auto company making cars in our country again.