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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images from Various Sources
Published 05.15.2019

 Studebaker National Museum in South Bend RESIZED 1The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana (Studebaker Museum)

The Studebaker’s history is a national treasure that should not be forgotten. When you look back at the history of Studebaker, you have to go back to the early days of covered wagons. During the early 1800s, many Americans depended on Studebaker for everyday transportation. Patrick Foster, in his great book “Studebaker: The Complete History” said, “For many years, Studebaker held the proud claim as the vehicle owned by more Americans than any other brand.”

Abraham Lincoln display at the Studebaker Museum Commons Wikimedia RESIZED 2Abraham Lincoln display at the Studebaker Museum (Commons Wikimedia)

I have always been fascinated with the history of Studebaker because of their automotive styling during the 1950s and early 1960s. Studebaker was one of the most recognized companies during the early days of our American culture. It was 1851 when the Studebaker family settled in South Bend, Indiana. It was Henry and Clement Studebaker who started a blacksmith shop, H & C Studebaker Company, on February 16, 1852. The company then started building wagons for the consumer market. By 1860, the Studebaker Company was doing very well selling wagons, and more men were added to the manufacturing operation. In the days prior to the Civil war, the Studebaker Company received contracts to build large numbers of wagons for the Union Army. Later, Studebaker wagon sales grew across America. The first Studebaker automobile made its debut in 1902, and the company produced a line of great looking electric-powered vehicles which many consumers admired.

1950 Studebaker Convertible Studebaker Museum RESIZED 31950 Studebaker Convertible (Studebaker Museum)

A good place to learn more about Studebaker’s great history and see many of their vehicles is the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. From the early days making wagons in the 19th century to great car styling in the 1920s and the famous 1953 design, the Studebaker Museum has many great historical displays for everyone to see. The museum opened its doors to the public in 2005 and features three floors of exhibits.

1953 Studebaker Commons Wikimedia 41953 Studebaker Commons (Wikimedia)

Visitors can see the carriage used by President Abraham Lincoln, along with a 1902 Studebaker Electric car. Studebaker’s military vehicles built during World War I and World War II are well-represented. The curator of the museum is Aaron Warkentin.

Museum display featuring a Studebaker truck and a Packard Predictor show car RESIZED 5Museum display featuring a Studebaker truck and a Packard Predictor show car

The Studebaker National Museum is located at 201 Chapin Street in South Bend. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, call 574.235.9714 or visit

1960s Studebaker Studebaker Museum RESIZED 61960s Studebaker (Studebaker Museum)

The Studebaker history is a part of the woven fabric that made America’s automotive industry what it is today.


Langworth, Richard & Hall, Asa E. “The Studebaker Century.” 1983.

Foster, Patrick. “Studebaker: The Complete History.” 2008.