1963 Studebaker Standard: Plain Jane

1963 was really Studebaker’s last full year as a full-fledged automobile company. Sure, the marque would go on through the 1966 model year, but ’63 was really the last chance for the South Bend, Indiana-based company’s relevance in the auto market.

1963 Studebaker

A full line of Larks, the Avanti, the Gran Turismo Hawk, pickups, heavy-duty trucks (with diesel engines, even) were included in South Bend’s board of fare. Factory built police and taxi packages were available as well.

Every stop was pulled to eke out one more order, one more car, one more truck. And so in mid-1963 Studebaker introduced the Standard, a bare-bones Lark with power nothing, zero chrome and a low, low price.

Of course, it was a Lark, but it sported no Lark badging on the exterior, just a “Studebaker” script on the front fender where the L-A-R-K letters would be on fancier models. There was no side trim either, just the chrome door handles, aforementioned logo and hub caps instead of full wheel covers.

It was available as a two-door sedan, four-door sedan and Wagonaire. The Standard four door had a base price of $2040 with the six cylinder engine, $2175 with the V8. Sedans and wagons sat on a 113″ wheelbase, while the two-doors were a little shorter at 109″. While you could get a V8, options were naturally not common, as the whole point of this model was thrift. But this particular black over rose sedan still looks pretty sharp, even with a radio blank-out plate. In 1963, even the low line, rock-bottom priced cars could be had in multiple color choices, in and out.

Available options included back-up lights at $8.00, tinted glass at $32, and a Climatizer heater/defroster for $80-88, depending on the model. But the Studebaker Standard defined plain Jane. They clearly were meant to appeal to fleets, judging from the equally plain brochure. Said brochure had to be issued as it was a mid-year model, and not included in the full-line showroom brochure. I was not able to find production records for the Standard alone, as records for 1963 Studebakers were broken out by body style alone. But 40,113 four-door sedans, excluding taxi versions, were built in South Bend that year. Being a mid-year model and most Studebaker buyers likely preferring the higher trim models, I imagine sales were on the low side. I’ve never seen a Standard in person, at any rate. And I’ve been to several Studebaker Drivers’ Club shows over the years.

This fine example was seen at last Autumn’s annual car extravaganza in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Thanks to my buddy Sal Darigo, Jr. for taking the pictures!

50 Replies to “1963 Studebaker Standard: Plain Jane”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    You see all the deletions in terms of trim, but interesting that they still give you an inline six. Economy of operation is still emphasized but of the 60s compacts, only the Chevy II offered a four cut down from a six. The ability to go on long highway drives was still considered a necessity and to get there enough torque to cope with relaxed gearing. The smoothness conferred by the inline 6 must have made them all seem like luxury cars to Europe. A 2.8 inline 6 at 3000 rpm at 70mph would have felt pretty dreamy compare to say a 1.1 four at 4600 rpm in a Renault of the day, with the constant fear of imminent engine failure.

    No doubt this engine would have twice the life of the Renault engine, but notice that the ad copy of the Studebaker in more comfortable claiming the seat springs will last 100,000 miles than the engine lasting that long. Cute way to put that number out there. In England Ford was marketing the new Kent four as a 100.000 engine. That in retrospect was about 25 percent optimistic.

    Thanks Tom. When I think of these, I think of college professor cars, but you reminded me of the also present Scotsman tradition

    Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Not everybody agrees, that is to be expected. At least here alternative opinions are welcome. The cantankerous coot as Tom calls him banned me from the other site.

        Reply
        • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

          Speaking of the 8th generation Malibu as I was in my post below, I’ve had repeated arguments with the owner concerning the rear legroom of the car. He insists that it’s too damned small, but I found an article his son wrote for TTAC concerning the perception of the short leg room and that the car was on average or slightly smaller than others in it’s segment. But far from being as bad as others have made it out to be. The article seemed to quell that argument. God help you if you express the thought that Japanese cars ARE NOT Deus ex Machina…

          It’s difficult to have a free exchange of ideas when there’s a preconceived conclusion by the host. I will say that lately, the guy has been a little more moderate lately. I have to wonder if there has been a drop in page views (don’t really care to find out if so), but something has made him a little more open to actual discussion. I don’t wish the guy any ill will, but suppressing folks’ opinions can’t be good for business…

          Reply
          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            I find that hard to believe. He did an egg-sucking article about the 80th Anniversary Continental (which, contrary to his declaration of certain failure, sold out in 24 hours) and a friend of mine, a fellow Lincoln owner, commented on it. Said comments were ash canned by the Curbside Coward.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            On the Malibu, I was happy that generation got a little smaller. To me some of the later generations were just too big. When I got married in 93, our first car together was a Corsica. It was cheap to buy, big enough to be comfortable, and small enough to be agile and economical. Plenty of PN’s amen choir would have said the same type things about the same size at the time Accord, well except being cheap. Yet it would never occur to him that someone would have got good service out of the domestic alternative. That is it because it is really hard to write about a car you don’t like, as it just doesn’t occupy the mind space. That is where a diverse opinion comment section comes in.

            Think of the great discussion we had here on the Cosworth Vega. People who liked it, well me, people who didn’t, lots of you, and even an owner or two, even they disagreed. At the end, I know I had been entertained and learned much. PN would have just declared deadly sin, perhaps double deadly for GM having some of their rent seekers soup it up and shut up anyone who disagreed. Less entertainment and less learning.

          • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

            I didn’t mean to imply that it was all butterflies and lollipops, but it has tempered a bit. Just a bit.

            Of course, I’m not reading the whole site and all of the comments, either. There could be fire and brimstone erupting in a post I’m not seeing…

          • AvatarCarmine

            I was banned too, its tough having any opinion that isn’t “everything GM has ever made and ever will make sucks and I hope that they go bankrupt right away”.

            Besides Paul though, there is a small, and I think shrinking, group of little Paul Deciples that echo the same bs over and over and over again.

            You would think Paul would be happy, but when one of his kids is a junkie criminal and other is in a group home somewhere(he just boasted on a post about how he got the group home a great deal on a Corolla!!!-such a nice guy) and the rest of your life is just about being a bitter about everything old ex-wanna be hippie with one foot in the grave, what can you do, he recently posted on Curbisde Clunker about how he got a colonoscopy, which must have been a full body procedure on him, so between the articles about Pauls butt probing and re-running Toms articles from 2014, its doesn’t seem that the site is on the up and up.

            Looks like he’s never selling that site to retire as chief slumlord of Eugene OR.

            I do visit from time to time, I don’t know why, its like when milk has gone bad and you can’t help but taking yet another “wiff” and exclaiming, “oh God this sucks”…..then you sniff again.

            I’m still trying to figure out who’s the 2nd worst after Paul on that site, its between his little soyboy minion Brendan Saur and a Paul-wanna be lite that goes by the nom de plum of GN.

          • AvatarTony LaHood

            Carmine, I was wondering what happened to you. I always enjoyed your comments at CC and especially appreciated your kind words about my posts (as Imperialist). Hope you’re doing well.

          • Avatarsafe as milk

            I agree with George. After not posting there for a long time, I’ve dipped my toe back in the water. The site has become mostly dreck but there still are some good contributors there.

            John, you are certainly an asset to this site and look forward to your comments even though I don’t often agree with them. 🙂

  2. Avatar-Nate

    I notice the flat floors comments in the brochure ~ back then much more dirt & gravel collected in cars, causing worn carpets/mats and rust .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • AvatarMadHungarian

      The flat floors are reflective of the 1952-53 design that lurks just under the skin of every Studebaker until the bitter end. I remember as a kid being tasked with sweeping out the floors of Mom’s 1960 Lark with a small whisk broom. One advantage of the flat floors.

      Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        I still keep a soft bristled counter brush in my pickup truck for just this reason ~ it’s dead easy to sweep out the cab .

        I used to use whisk brooms until I discovered counter brushes, they’re far better at this task .

        -Nate

        Reply
  3. AvatarMrGreenMan

    I love to see the glass greenhouses on cars of this vintage. You might die in a crash, but you’d see them coming!

    Reply
    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

      Tony, Carmine’s been in contact with me ever since I left Cantankerous Coot, and has done a few posts here, on his 80 Caprice, and on a 76 New Yorker Brougham and 58 Continental Mark III.

      BTW, if you would care to write something up here as well, just let me know.

      Reply
  4. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    While touted for it’s economy, the six wasn’t a lot better than the 259 V-8. A couple of reasons; the 6 needed a lower rear gear ( higher number), typically a 4.10. Also the manual trans had slightly higher ratio’s with the 6. My 1960 Lark with 259 and factory 4 barrel manifold (new Edelbrock carb), 3 speed w/overdrive, and 3.70 rear gears, will give around 19-20 mpg at 70 mph on the highway. If I get into the secondaries on the 4 barrel on occasion, it will drop down to 16-18 mpg or so, depending on how long I stay on the throttle. Even just running around town, mix of country roads and small town “downtown”, I’ll still see 17 or so mpg.
    Not that mpg is important for me in this car, but I was kinda surprised at the mileage it does get.

    Reply
  5. AvatarGeorge Denzinger

    I find this and the earlier Scotsman models more interesting as I get older. We had base model cars growing up and once I was able to afford my own, I was buying pretty loaded-up models. These days, even a cheapie like my kid’s Malibu LS has more options standard than my first “good” car, a 1980 Mercury Capri RS Turbo. I still had roll up windows!

    But, I’m finding the basic models more appealing these days. I don’t know if it’s a sudden spate of thriftiness in my “old age” or what, but I enjoy the basic goodness of that LS-level Malibu more every day. I have to imagine that if this were 55+ years ago, maybe I would be cruising the Studebaker lots looking to see if I could score a Standard with a 259 V8 and autobox… And not much more.

    Reply
  6. Avatarbullnuke

    My memory of the Lark’s during the early to mid ’60s was the flapping front fenders where corrosion separated the sheet metal from cowl to bottom just forward of the front doors. Happened very quickly – usually in the first year or two here in Ohio due to road salting – and most Lark’s quickly became back-row cars at the local used car lot fetching sub-$500 prices for two year old cars. I can’t remember seeing any on the road after 1969 – 1970. The Studebaker’s from the ’50s outlasted them but not by much.

    Reply
  7. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    When was the last time an automaker advertised selling an “economy” car? In the 1950s, Plymouth was not embarrassed to advertise itself as one of the “low cost three”, the other members of that economy troika were the Ford and Chevrolet brands.

    Back then, middle class folks didn’t mind wearing middle class clothes and driving middle class cars. Now, everyone has to look like a star.

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      The last time I remember was during the last recession when Nissan decontented a Versa sedan to get it under $10,000 list. That was quite a deal with the big back seat, the French suspension, and the old Japanese core competency of small sedans with 1.6 liter engines and five speeds. Half price Corolla anyone?

      I think Nissan still does that type thing in Canada, North America’s Scotland, with a Mexican made Micra, but doesn’t bother here.

      Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      “Now, everyone has to look like a star.”

      Just so ;

      Come to any large city in California and the most important thing is how hip your car is .

      I find it entertaining, who gives a crap what others drive but it’s fun to watch the Hoi Polloi making fools of them selves in public .

      -Nate

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        When McLaren graciously gave me access to a 675LT in Los Angeles, I made a point of taking it down Rodeo Drive, but it was at 6AM so only mannequins saw me styling. Coming back from the Petersen Automotive Museum I inadvertantly ruined the day of a bronzed Angleno driving a Gallardo spyder. We were traveling in opposite directions on a boulevard, he looked over and saw a car that costs twice as much as his and I could see his face fall.

        Reply
        • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

          Ronnie- this is totally off topic, but…

          Are you still following up on Paul Elio & Co.? I know you were writing some posts about his travails on TTAC, but I haven’t seen anything lately. I’ve been scaling back my screen time, somewhat involuntarily, as work has picked up and when I get home, I really don’t want to spend more time in front of a computer…

          In my travels on YouTube, I see some posts about alternatives to Elio’s car, ranging from some dude(s) importing an electrically powered Polish copy (or maybe it’s a Chinese copy assembled in Poland) of a Renault Twizy to Peter Von Panda exhorting Elio placeholders to buy a used Fiat 500.

          Thanks.

          Reply
  8. AvatarCliffG

    For about $16k, 1963 dollars adjusted, you can probably get your local Ford dealer to sell you are fairly well equipped Focus. Safer, more economical, far less pollution, and host of other doodads that make commuting reasonable. Ah, but after 50,000 miles you could pull the head off your Lark (it would need to have that done) in your garage in an afternoon, get the local machine shop to do your head for about $60, and be on the road again. Until it completely rusted out in about 7 years and you threw it away. Or put your old B/W 17″ Philco in the trunk, and push it out behind the barn to return to nature. Ah, the good old days.

    Reply
  9. AvatarJohn C.

    On Carmines post above. God I laughed when you said a colonoscopy would be whole body for him, but of course as a glass house liver myself, there but by the grace of God…… Same with adult children troubles …. glass houses and he should have bought the Versa, but maybe he only likes French cars made less that 20 or so miles from the German border.

    He has some good contributors, Stopford and Dennis are good and younger guys that sense the tragedy of how a failing industry hollows out a country, when it used to be so central about making things better. You can definitely sense PN trying to hold his tongue around them. One time he forgot around Stopford and suggested that the Australian industry deserved to fail for not shifting to Corollas years ago. He left unsaid how they were supposed to do that at Australian wages or how anyone could get worked up about appliances.

    I once asked him after he had reposted from TTAC Gm death watch circa 180, how many did they do. He answered and the number was something like 350. I asked if there was any worry around the TTAC water cooler about being a one note Charlie. Nothing, if something works, beat it to death apparently.

    I will say that PN is smart, way more than me. Just wish he could get excited about something besides Tatra or DKW. The future isn’t plastics my friend, it is swing axles.

    Reply
    • Avatararbuckle

      I never really cared that Paul needs to lovingly stroke off to nearly everything out of Japan (and pre-1994 Benz) while slagging 95% of American cars, or that he wrote stupid crap like a Cadillac ATS looks just like a Camry. What did bother me (and why I left the site) was this sort of thing:

      Comment on post showing Chevy Celebrity: “LOLZ, I can smell the heroin and lottery tickets from here!” = Paul has no response (or agrees).

      Comment on post showing Honda Insight: “Wow, what a turd. I can smell the smug emissions from here!” = Paul bans everyone, deletes all comments, and makes a lame as f*ck “Housekeeping” post the next day about ‘manners’ on CC because someone criticized a product of glorious Nippon.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        I agree about those housekeeping posts. One of the genius things about his site was having those four or 5 Midwest guys as “editors” that would get the comments going in a friendly way on a new article. This was in addition to the articles contributed. What an incredible contribution to the site, for which they were not paid. Yet here comes some housekeeping post where the editors are lined up to chant the mantra, like they were the Vietcong preparing for a midnight raid. To stomach that, the love of chatting about old cars must be great.

        Reply
          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            I can’t speak for the others, but I got into writing because I was between jobs at the time and it was cathartic to track down old cars in town and yak about them.

            The Coot was fairly normal, even encouraging at first, but later on the irrational scolding, bitchy emailed tirades outpaced the earlier, friendlier veneer. Then I exited stage left…and here I am at Baruth Central! 🙂

      • AvatarCarmine

        I called him out on the exact same thing years ago, in a Pontiac or F-body article it was ok to post assumptions about ALL owners of that make were stupid, meth smoking, white trash, sister humping, missing chromosome filth of humanity, but merely insinuate that a Prius driver maybe wasn’t a super manly ruler of the world, and that was it………..

        They ran an article a few months ago that featured Mr.Rogers driving in a circa late 70’s interview, and they were trying to ID the car from the footage, the car was ID as a Colonnade Grand Prix and you should have seen the posts by Paul and some of his lackey as to “how that HAD to be a rental car and how no one like Mr. Rogers would ever own a car like a 70’s Pontiac Grand Prix” really go back and look it up, the snobbish contempt that they have for people that even own a certain make is unbelievable…….

        Reply
          • AvatarCarmine

            Lets not even go over the ongoing theme that anyone that had money and didn’t buy a Mercedes Benz in the 1970’s was a slobbering goober that didn’t know any better………

          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            Carmine, Yeah, let’s spend double Delta 88 money for a smoking, 74 hp 240D! *rolls eyes*

          • Avatar-Nate

            Fair enough but ~ those old Mercedes are still chugging along clogging up the slow lane and getting 40 MPG doing it, the far more beautiful Delta 88’s are almost all gone, even in the land of zero rust .

            -Nate

          • AvatarCarmine

            Where do you live where you still see these “clogging up the left lane”?

            I’m curious, because even in Miami, where more Mercedes were sold in the 70’s and 80;s than almost any other place in the world, because cocaine, I seldom see any Mercedes that’s pre 2000’s on the road, maybe if you live in Azerbaijan somewhere were one is being used as the local taxi, police car and ambulance……..

          • Avatar-Nate

            ? You didn’t notice the sarcasm font ? .

            I’m not always in the #1 lane, any time I’m not going faster that the rest of the traffic I keep to the right as any intelligent driver does .

            W123 & W126 Mercedes still litter America, I’m n the SouthWest but I’m always getting Tech help requests from the rust belt too….

            -Nate

        • AvatarTony LaHood

          I posted a derisive comment about Prius drivers based on my experience sharing the roads with them, and received a scathing email from PN. The comment was deleterd and I wrote a reply of apology and no offense intended; in return, I received a rude reply calling my apology BS. There are still a few good guys over there– Jim Cavanaugh, Joe Dennis, William Stopford, Roger Carr, and rlplout come to mind. It’s just sad to hear all this.

          Reply
          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            Tony, same here. I did that Christmas post in ’14 (the one with the green 94-96 Fleetwood Brougham), and mentioned that despite the kerfuffle on Anthony’s Town Car post (which PN instigated) we still enjoy talking about cars, et al. I received a crazy-pants email from the Coot, who apparently took umbrage at my mentioning his bad behaviour, via use of the noun ‘kerfuffle.’ It was a long, rambling sociopathic tirade. I finally realized my time was better served cutting the loony out of my life, and I was done with the whole fackin’ site.

            I still have the email saved, perhaps The New England Journal of Medicine could take some insight from it, regarding the diseased mind…

          • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

            Well Tom, kerfuffle is a fighting word out West, apparently.

            Now, had you used “brouhaha”, “fracas”, “hubbub”, or even “mess”, the whole situation may have been diffused…

            I would have gone for “fracas”, myself… It has a foreign sounding element to it…

          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

            Hey George, if I really meant to insult the bozo, I could have done, way, way, WAYYYY better than that. 😀

  10. AvatarJohn C.

    Wonder why Studebaker was never completely was never able to capture that counterculture anti consumerist desire for a sturdy, sensible anti fashion car. The Grand Turismo Hawk and the Avanti did similarly to Volvo coupes, not very well. These cars were respected overseas though with a Mercedes relationship and sales in places like Australia, South Africa, and Israel as Ronnie has talked about. I think the issue was that clientele was not going to buy a domestic car. I think that is why a last chance was given to the Canadian factory with pretty direct marketing as a Canadian car and with only the models that would appeal to the college professor set.

    Reply
  11. AvatarRon Smith - Studeclunker

    I have two of these ’63’s. One of them is the Standard model described in this blog. It is still an attractive model with one option: an automatic transmission. The other is a deluxe, just one step above with a simple, unpretentious Stainless stripe down the side. The ’63s were a considerable improvement over the ’62, were quiet, smooth, and rode much better with improved handling. I love mine.

    Reply

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