Wednesday, April 1, 2009
1963 Studebaker Lark
Brooks Stevens also revised the Lark Station Wagon for 1963. It was now called Wagonaire and featured a remarkable sliding roof above the cargo compartment. This enhanced practicality and Studebaker advertised it as "a family car, a functional utility wagon and a fun-filled convertible". The tailgate was changed into a one-piece lid with a roll-down rear window.
Lark Wagons were available in Standard, Regal and Daytona trim, but only the Regal and Daytona versions sported the sliding roof. The Daytona Wagonaire was fitted full deep-pile carpeting throughout, including the cargo compartment, as a bonus.
An optional rear facing third seat
...and the standard sliding roof
Special options for the Wagonaire included a folding ladder on the tailgate, a "hideaway" third seat for extra passenger space and a luggage roof rack. The Wagonaire could be had with any Studebaker engine, including the supercharged Jet-Thrust V8: that must have been some Wagon! Perhaps an option to get rid of those pesky boy scouts that seem to bother the Wagonaire in this picture...
Unfortunately the Lark Wagonaire with sliding roof had one annoying problem: the roof leaked, even when properly closed. That was why the Lark Standard station wagon with normal roof remained a popular choice.
Top of the Lark line was this Cruiser, although Studebaker didn't advertise it being a Lark. Studebaker liked to see it as a "Limousette", a small limousine more upmarket than the bread-and-butter Lark. On the picture you see it accompanied by a historic Studebaker dog cart; what image did they try to convey here?
Unlike the other Larks the Cruiser wasn't available wit the Skybolt Six. It came with the Thunderbolt V8 as standard: a 4736 cc (289 cid) 8-cylinder offering 210 hp @ 4500 rpm with 2-barrel carburetor, or even 225 hp @ 4500 rpm with the optional 4-barrel carb.
Lark Cruiser Interior
The Cruiser was packed with luxury in an attempt to put it in a higher market segment. These bucket seats were an option, as was a sunroof. Studebaker made a big point about it being a rival to the most expensive limousines, which was probably going a bit too far. But still it was quite roomy and comfortable and it had a potent performance.
A practical aspect of the Cruiser was the absence of door sills. It made cleaning the car much easier and prevented tripping and the accumulation of snow and water on the floor. In addition the door openings on the Cruiser were also wider for easier access.
Floor level door sills...
wider door openings...
pleated storage pockets.
The pleated storage pockets you see on the picture above were fitted on both sides of the front seatbacks. These are all nice details, but does it make a limousine?
Despite the inventive marketing the Lark's fortunes were waning. The production figure for the 1963 Lark range stopped at 74,201, a 21 percent drop compared to 1962. Therefore the Lark name was dropped after 1963 and the remaining Canadian production resorted to the Daytona and Cruiser names, in combination with the reintroduced Commander designation.
The amazing thing about the 1963 Larks was the wide range of engines that were available. Next to the mentioned Skybolt Six and 259 V8 there were the Thunderbolt V8 from the Cruiser, the Jet-Thrust V8 with 240 hp and the Supercharged Jet-Thrust V8 with an ample 290 hp. The Jet-Thrust engine was based on the Thunderbolt and had the same 4736 cc (289 cid) capacity but was fitted with high-lift racing camshaft, dual-breaker distributor, 4-barrel carb and a dual exhaust system. The customer could specify any of the V8 engines in his Lark 8; the Lark 6 customer however was limited to the trusty Skybolt Six with single barrel carburetor.
Posted by Palmer at 4:12 PM