Post-Mortem on a Great Vehicle Manufacturer

The death of a great nameplate


You might have thought I would be writing about the demise of Sterling Trucks, but I'm actually referring to another great nameplate that has passed into the ether. This week I was in South Bend, Indiana, attending the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Meeting (I'll be writing about this in my next Fuel Advantage blog at www.fuelpub.com), and while I was in town I took some time to visit the Studebaker museum. I was only five years old when Studebaker built its last car, but as an old car buff I've always been a fan. Studebaker may have had a hard time finding a place in the US auto market for the last few years of its life, but, with the help of legendary designers Raymond Leowy and Brooks Stevens, the company built some legendary cars nevertheless. The "bullet-nose" Champion of 1950, and the radical 1953 Starlight coupes are still as eye-catching as they were when new. Even as the company fell into its death spiral in the early '60s, it introduced the amazing Avanti, a car that still looks contemporary--and desirable--today, 35 years after its birth. Visiting the museum, and reflecting on Studebaker's exit from the automotive stage, made the news of Sterling Trucks' demise more poignant. It's a sad day when a venerable brand ceases to be, and there may be more sad days ahead, in both the heavy truck and the automotive world. I'm not going to make any predictions about which brand might be the next to fall, but I wonder whether our readers are in the mood to speculate... Anyone want to guess which brand (or brands) might be following Sterling into the history books?