Midway through the 1963 model year, Studebaker launched a new series called the Standard, offering a shorter list of features and a rock-bottom sticker price. Here’s John Cameron Swayze with the lowdown.
By 1963, sales at Studebaker were tumbling. Volume rallied to more than 125,000 units with the introduction of the popular new Lark in 1959, then faded to less than 70,000 in ’63 as the South Bend, Indiana automaker struggled to stay afloat. (In comparison, American Motors typically moved more than 400,000 cars annually in these years.) In an effort to boost production to a sustainable level, at mid-year Studebaker introduced the low-cost Standard series, with a minimum of models and features and sticker prices slashed to the bone.
There were just three body styles: two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and the Wagonaire station wagon, which retained its unique sliding roof panel. Interior appointments were comfortable but modest, while all exterior bright trim was eliminated, recalling the 1957 Scotsman, an earlier Studebaker price leader. Sticker price for the Standard two-door sedan was a rather astonishing $1,935, cheaper than any full-size or intermediate car on the market and solidly in Ford Falcon territory. At that price, it’s doubtful the company could make a nickel, but at least it brought some customers through the door, presumably.
The spokesman for our video introduction of the ’63 Standard line is John Cameron Swayze, a familiar guest in American living rooms. Anchorman for the NBC nightly news from 1949 to 1956, Swayze is best known for his series of Timex watch commercials and their tagline, “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” No Studebakers were harmed in this production, though the actors do torture their lines a bit. Enjoy the video.