Hooniverse Weekend Edition – The Very Long Lifespan of the Studebaker Lark Platform

This weekend, I though I would uncover a couple of discontinued vehicles and dive into how old they really were. I’m sorry to all of you foreign car buffs, but this will deal with domestic iron only, but you are all free to discuss your favorite make, and tell us how old it really was. So, here is the premise: I will be doing a series of short postings about a car line that has been built over the years that was really nothing new except the body style, and maybe the drive-train. I will start with the Studebaker Lark Chassis, which had a 29 year production cycle. Curious? Make the jump to read on…

In all reality the Studebaker Lark, introduced in the fall of 1958, was really nothing more than a shortened standard Studebaker chassis that was introduced with the Raymond Lowey Coupe in 1953. For sake of argument, that chassis was modified a couple of times because of some design flaws, so I will start out with the compact chassis of 1959. By this time, the chassis was fully vetted, and the Lark was setting sales records. After 1960, Studebakers fortunes were once again in doubt, and to help spearhead a revitalized company, the infamous Avanti made its debut in the fall of 1962 using a reinforced version of the Lark Chassis.

Of course the Avanti didn’t help revitalize anything, and it may have hindered any chance for Studebaker to survive as an automobile company. The US Studebaker factory closed in December of 1963, and production of the “Lark” based Studebakers moved to Hamilton, Ontario. The Avanti on the other hand would continue on in the hands of two South Bend Studebaker Dealers, Nate Altman and Leo Newman. They purchased the nameplate, tooling, and plant space, and began building the “Avanti II” in 1965.

The Avanti II utilized the same Lark based platform until 1987, when the third owner of the Avanti name began assembling the iconic motorcar on the GM “G” Chassis, which was used in the Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, and other GM RWD mid-sized cars at that time. Even though the chassis remained the same, the powertrains were all Chevrolet based, starting with the Corvette based 327 CID V-8, then onto the 350, the 400, and finally the very flaccid 305 CID V-8.

How many other body or chassis combinations held on as long as the Studebaker Lark Chassis? Some come close, while one was still in production until last year for an amazing 32 year production run. So, can you name them all?

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