Featured Classic

1964 Studebaker Daytona

It’s said that the band on the Titanic continued to play, even as the vessel sank.  For students of Studebaker’s history, that scenario sounds a little like the company’s final years. Nineteen Sixty-Four was a case in point.  Sales of the 1963 lineup slumped 20% from the preceding year’s total, slipping below 70,000 units.  A rearguard marketing action continued, trying to squelch rumors of Studebaker’s demise, even as they posted a net loss of $28,000,000.

Studebaker touted the ‘64’s as, “Different by Design”, and they were far more stylish than might’ve been expected, given the shoestring design budget.  The 1964 lineup launched with yet another, tasteful budget refresh, courtesy of Designer Brooks Stevens.  The Lark lineup was also different by name.  Larks were no longer referred to as such.  Curiously, the company chose to distance themselves from the name of the model that had saved their corporate bacon,  just five years earlier.  The ’64 ‘Larks’ were officially known as  Challenger, Commander and Daytona and Cruiser.  

Of more consequence than the year’s name change was the change of address.  Barely a third of the way through the model year (December 20, 1963), production in the South Bend, Indiana plant ceased.   All manufacturing was consolidated into Studebaker’s facilities in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  The move had many casualties.  Manufacturing of all Hawk and Avanti models never transitioned to Canada, and trucks were wound down by early ‘64.  Availability of high performance engines across model lines was scrapped too, though the Indiana plant continued to supply mainline engines through the balance of the model year.  Studebaker sourced the engines for their 1965 lineup from General Motors, including the 283 c.i.d. V-8 and 194 c.i.d. six. 
The end of the model year found the company a step closer to foundering, (and unknown at the time, just two years from being shuttered).  Model year output for ’64 dipped 48%, to just 36,697 units.  Included in those numbers were Studebaker’s last convertibles.  Ragtop production dwindled from 2,681 in 1962, to 1,015 in ’63, and finally, 703 Daytona Convertibles in 1964.  Eight cylinder versions stickered for $2,805, while six-packing models were priced at $2,670.