Peter Studebaker, his brother, their wives and a cousin arrived in America from Germany in 1736. Industrious, they began making farm equipment, then wagons and Army wagons. The families burgeoned and so did the business – Studebaker became the largest wagon manufacturer in the world.
They advanced to making fancy horse-drawn carriages. In the 1850s, you could purchase a luxury carriage that held 12 for $20,000. That’s about a cool half million today! Budweiser purchased wagons, to be drawn by their famous Clydesdale horses.
Peter’s son John had five sons. As the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, they developed an electric car in 1902 but quickly moved on to gasoline drive vehicles in 1904.
The first all Studebaker manufactured car hit the road in 1912. Studebaker produced quality cars of beautiful design. The last of the five brothers, John, died in 1917. Albert Erskine took over but the Great Depression took its toll. Deeply in debt, both personally and at Studebaker, and suffering from illness, he ended his own life in 1933.
Studebaker struggled along, joining with other companies to stay in business. In 1953, they produced the beautiful aerodynamic Studebaker Commander Starliner. You can buy one today on eBay for $60,000.
In 1954, they joined with the Packard Company, but that did not last and they were on their own again by 1962. The last Studebaker was produced in 1966. From electric cars to streamlined design, Studebaker could probably hold its own today!