Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Many Faces of Studebaker

Again and again, I’m asked to describe the paint scheme of a particular wagon brand... Kentucky, Winona, Milburn, Nissen, Owensboro, Springfield, Moline, Weber, Luedinghaus, Weber-Damme, Champion, Olds, Stoughton, Schuttler, Mandt, Troy, Flint, Pekin, South Bend, Coquillard… the list could go on and on.  The truth is that there is rarely a simple answer to understanding the proper look of a vintage wagon.  Just as auto makers have always introduced new paint designs and styles, early wagon builders did so as well.

Typically, the correct paint and construction styles of a particular manufacturer depend not only on the type of wagon and region of use, but also the timeframe in which it was produced.  Studebaker farm wagons, for example, had no less than a handful of distinctive variations in the paint schemes between 1852 and 1921.  Within those variations, not only did the base color design change over time but, the striping, stenciling, logo styles and positions of these elements were also evolving. 
In fact, during the 1870’s and early 1880’s, Studebaker’s paint style was so unique, the vehicle could actually be identified as a ‘Studebaker’ without seeing the name or any other construction features.  It’s one more part of the history of these early vehicle builders that makes authoritative evaluations a bit more challenging. 
Ultimately, the more we know about these early vehicles and their makers, the easier it is to understand how complex the industry was and the vehicles continue to be.