|Studebaker Golden Hawk and 190SL Mercedes-Benz share a showroom floor. |
Note the Packard/Clipper banner on the wall.
In South Bend, Indiana, Studebaker's headquarters home office, there was a small but enthusiastic Mercedes staff, largely coming from existing Studebaker and ex-Packard staff. Dealer recruitment, sales training, and parts and service, particularly in those early years, were handled at field level primarily by existing Studebaker people.
Thinking back to 1959, it was easier to partner a Big Three dealer with a Studebaker franchise than it was Mercedes, a foreign brand, even with the Mercedes franchise available at a promise to buy $10,000 in parts, tools and signs plus enough open credit to floor-plan two to four cars. By 1964, there were more than 320 Mercedes/other brand dealers in the United States. More than 150 were Studebaker duals. Most others were dueled with other imports such as Frazer Nash and MG along with domestics. Less than 20 were Mercedes exclusives. However Studebaker was in serious trouble in 1965, having first abandoned its California plant and then its South Bend home base. It retreated to assemble cars in a small Canadian plant that could not accommodate trucks or the sporty Avanti.
The Mercedes-Benz brand was by the early-60s well established like VW and selling nearly 20,000 units a year, but Daimler-Benz was doing business with dealers and the public through a now weak Studebaker organization. So Daimler-Benz bought back the Mercedes-Benz Sales, Inc. contract for near $9 million, roughly five times the earlier selling price.
By 1963 Daimler-Benz then formed Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc., ending the Studebaker-Mercedes association that spanned portions of nine years. During that time Mercedes had grown becoming a highly visible and respected brand, while Studebaker withered, as had so many independent auto manufacturers, overcome by the domestic Big Three.
Much of this info is via, Ray Windecker. Sadly photographer unknown with images via.
|Large Studebaker/Mercedes-Benz Dealer in 1963.|
Notice the 230SL "Pagoda" under the covering.
|Note the Mercedes-Benz and Studebaker "Lark" widow sign.|
|The 300SL engine goes into a chassis.|
|A 300SL Roadster body is then fitted.|
|190SL Mercedes body is fitted to the chassis.|
|With the 190SL the engine is fitted after the body was on.|
|Time to do housekeeping on a finished 190SL.|
|Instruments are added to a 300SL, note the 190 just ahead on the same line.|
|Finishing touches get added to a 300SL Roadster.|
|The 300SL Gullwing line.|
|Note the hand detailing.|
|300SL cars rolling along with hand detailing to make them perfect.|
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