Rock River Valley Chapter Studebaker Drivers Club
Studebaker and Other Automotive Trivia
This site will provide our Club Members with interesting Studebaker and other Automotive trivia.
Visit often as new content will be added frequently.

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Last Update:

June 23rd, 2016
Added a new Trivia Quiz and a new Article to "Automotive Legends" - Barney Roos, Studebaker Chief Engineer 1926 to 1936

Trivia Quiz: In what year and which car manufacture produced the first commercial Power Steering unit.

Click Here to see the Answer: 
Article Index
  • In the "Brass Era", "The colorful story of Walter E Flanders and the Flanders "20", manufactured by EMF a totally owned Studebaker Company 1910 to 1912"
  • In the "Brass Era", "The story of the Metz Motor Company"
  • In the "Studebaker", "First, an article copied from "Automobile Topics" 1912, in which they detailed the seperation and Flanders and Studebaker, a interesting read"
  • In the "Studebaker", "Second, a lengthy article, originally published in the Oct. 2003 issue of Turning Wheels, about a trip in a 1913 Studebaker car from Iowa to California."
  • In the "Studebaker", "Third, did you know Studebaker went bankrupt in 1933?  See this article for details.
  • In the "Unusual Cars 40s", "See the article on the Tucker 48"
  • In the "Automotive Legends", "See the article on Erskine, Studebaker president 1915 - 1933"
  • In the "Automotive Legends", "See the article on Durant, Father of General Motors"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on Gary Hoffman co-savior of Studebaker"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on Harold Vance co-savior of Studebaker"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on James Nance President of Packard - Studebaker"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on Automotive Designer Raymond Loewy"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on Walter P. Chrysler Founder Chrysler"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the article on Charles Nash Founder of Nash Motors"
  • In the "Automotive legends",  "See the new article on Barney Roos, Studebaker Chief Engineer, 1926 to 1936"

Francis W Davis invented and patented hydraulic power-steering system in 1927.

Chrysler Corporation introduced the first commercially available passenger car power steering system on the 1951 Chrysler Imperial under the name "Hydraguide". The Chrysler system was based on some of Davis' work.

Sidebar:  Studebaker first offered Power Steering as an option in 1955 on all it's cars.


Fred Fish - Studebakers first president, when Studebaker Corporation was born on February 14th, 1911
Albert Erskine - Appointed president, some time in 1915, the exact date is unknown, resigned March 18th,1933 when Studebaker Corporation went into receivership.
There was no president during the time Studebaker was in receivership, March 18th, 1933 until March 9th, 1935.
Paul Hoffman - Elected President when Studebaker was re-incorporated on March 9th, 1935.  He would serve as president until his leave of absence to administer the Marshall Plan from 1950 to 1953.
Harold Vance - Would serve as President and Chairman of the Board during Hoffman’s leave of absence, and likely until the sale of Studebaker to Packard on October, 1st, 1954.
James Nance - President of the new Studebaker - Packard company, born on October 1st, 1954, would retire when Curtis Wright’s three year management contract began October 31st, 1956.
Harold Churchill - Elected Studebaker President on October 31st, 1956 and served until he was demoted on February 1st, 1961.
Sherwood Egbert - Accepted the position of President of Studebaker on February 1st, 1961 and resigned November 25th, 1963.
Byers Burlingame - Appointed President on November 25th, 1963 and served until the end of Automotive production in March 5th, 1966.  Studebaker Corporation continued on for several very profitable years with the industrial divisions which had been purchased by Sherwood Egbert’s tenure as president.  When Burlingame finished as President is unknown.
Erskine & Hoffman, provided leadership for 33 of the 55 years Studebaker was in the Automobile business or roughly 60 percent of all the years, this left  40 percent for the other six.

Top Trivia Archive
The first automatic transmissions was developed in 1904 by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston, Massachusetts.  It had two forward speeds, selected by flyweights driven by the engine.  At higher engine speeds, high gear was engaged.  As engine RPM decreased, the gearbox would shift back to low. Unfortunately, owing to the abruptness of the gear change, the transmission would often fail without warning.
In 1908 with the introduction of the Ford Model T, a simple, two speed plus reverse planetary transmission, manually controlled by the driver using pedals was used.  The pedals actuated the transmission's friction elements (bands and clutches) to select the desired gear. 
In 1934, both REO and General Motors developed semi-automatic transmissions that were less difficult to operate than a full manual unit.  However, they continued to use a clutch to engage the engine with the transmission.  The General Motors unit was notable in that it employed a power-shifting planetary gearbox that was hydraulically controlled and was sensitive to road speed, anticipating future fully automatics.
Parallel to the development of automatically shifting gearbox by REO and GM was Chrysler's work on adapting the fluid coupling to automotive use. Invented early in the 20th century, the fluid coupling was the answer to the question of how to avoid stalling the engine when the vehicle was stopped with the transmission in gear.  Chrysler itself never used the fluid coupling with any of its later automatic transmissions, but did use it in conjunction with a hybrid manual transmission called "Fluid Drive" and the similar “Hy-Drive” which used a torque converter. 
These developments in automatic gearbox and fluid coupling technology eventually culminated in the introduction in 1939 of the General Motors Hydra-Matic, the world's first mass-produced fully automatic transmission.  Available as an option on 1940 Oldsmobiles, the Hydra-Matic combined a fluid coupling with three hydraulically controlled planetary gear sets to produce four forward speeds plus reverse.  The transmission was sensitive to engine throttle position and road speed, producing fully automatic up- and down-shifting that varied according to operating conditions.
The Hydra-Matic was subsequently adopted by Cadillac and Pontiac, and was sold to various other automakers, including Bentley, Hudson, Kaiser, Nash, and Rolls-Royce.  From 1950 to 1954, Lincoln cars were also available with the Hydra-Matic.  Mercedes-Benz subsequently devised a four-speed fluid coupling transmission that was similar in principle to the Hydra-Matic, but of a different design.
In 1956, GM introduced the "Jetaway" Hydra-Matic, which was different in design than the older model.  Addressing the issue of shift quality, which was an ongoing problem with the original Hydra-Matic, the new transmission utilized two fluid couplings, the primary one that linked the transmission to the engine, and a secondary one that replaced the clutch assembly that controlled the forward gearset in the original.  The result was much smoother shifting, especially from first to second gear, but with a loss in efficiency and an increase in complexity.  Another innovation for this new style Hydra-Matic was the appearance of a Park position on the selector.  The original Hydra-Matic, which continued in production until the mid-1960s, still used the Reverse position for parking pawl engagement.
The first torque converter automatic, Buick's Dynaflow, was introduced for the 1948 model year.  It was followed by Packard's Ultramatic in mid-1949 and Chevrolet's Powerglide for the 1950 model year.  Each of these transmissions had only two forward speeds, relying on the converter for additional torque multiplication.
In the early 1950s, BorgWarner developed a series of three-speed torque converter automatics for American Motors, Ford Motor Company, Studebaker, and several other manufacturers in the US and other countries.
Chrysler was late in developing its own true automatic, introducing the two-speed torque converter PowerFlite in 1953, and the three-speed TorqueFlite in 1956.  The latter was the first to utilize the Simpson compound planetary gear set.
General Motors produced multiple-turbine torque converters from 1954 to 1961.  These included the Twin-Turbine Dynaflow and the triple-turbine Turboglide transmissions.  The shifting took place in the torque converter, rather than through pressure valves and changes in planetary gear connections.  Each turbine was connected to the drive shaft through a different gear train.  These phased from one ratio to another according to demand, rather than shifting.  The Turboglide actually had two speed ratios in reverse, with one of the turbines rotating backwards.
By the late 1960s, most of the fluid-coupling four-speed and two-speed transmissions had disappeared in favor of three-speed units with torque converters.  By the early 1980s, these were being supplemented and eventually replaced by overdrive-equipped transmissions providing four or more forward speeds.  Many transmissions also adopted the lock-up torque converter (a mechanical clutch locking the torque converter pump and turbine together to eliminate slip at cruising speed) to improve fuel economy.
Sidebar: Studebaker’s first Automatic transmission called “Automatic Drive” was a Studebaker designed and Borg Warner (Detroit Gear) built three speed automatic released the second half of the 1950 model year.

From the beginning of the closed-bodied cars designs in the early 1920s, car makers sought all steel roofs.  Early attempts with boxy cars of the time failed, because of air turbulence drumming of the top panel.  As long as flat car tops remained, their could be no solid steel roof, even if one could have been manufactured.

By the early 1930’s roof designs began to change with a much more curved structure.  In 1932, Inland Steel opened the first continuous sheet mill capable of making wide sheet metal and at the same time the steel industry created steel formulations which allowed deep-draw stamping for the first time, thus creating opportunity to make a single piece roof with enough crown to avoid the dreaded drumming effect.

The first all steel tops, appeared on all 1935 GM cars as the Fisher Body “Turret Top”.  At least one source I found on the internet indicated this happened in 1933 with Oldsmobile sedans and coupes, but my research in looking at the 1933 & 1934 sales brochures for Oldsmobile confirms this is not true.

Side Bar:  Yes, there were very high end automobiles made with solid steel roofs, earlier then the 1935 GM cars, but they were not made as one continuous steel part, but were rather manufactured from several smaller panels and welded together.
Studebaker used an all one piece steel top for both Dictator’s and Presidents in 1936.
Ford was on of last to change over, doing so in 1937.  By then almost all the car manufactures except those with limited production, such as the “Senior Packard’s” had made the change.

In 1918, a young inventor named Malcolm Lougheed (who later changed the spelling of his name to Lockheed) applied hydraulics to braking.  He used cylinders and tubes to transmit fluid pressure against brake shoes, pushing the shoes against the drums.  In 1921, the first passenger car to be equipped with four-wheel hydraulic brakes appeared -- the Model A Duesenberg.

Carmakers as a group were not quick to adopt hydraulics.  Ten years after the Model A Duesie, in 1931, only Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto, Plymouth, Auburn, Franklin, Reo, and Graham had hydraulic brakes.  All the others still had cable-operated mechanical brakes.  In fact, it was not until 1939 that Ford finally gave in, becoming the last major manufacturer to switch to hydraulic brakes.
Side Bar:  Studebaker introduced a hydraulic four wheel braking system as an option in 1925, but failed to execute it very well and dropped the option for 1926.  Hydraulic brakes were not re-introduced at Studebaker until 1935.

The Packard Motor Car Company was the first automobile manufacturer to build air conditioners into its cars, beginning in late 1939 (at the start of the 1940 model year).  These air conditioners were optional, and cost US$274 (equivalent to about US$4,000 in 2007).  The system took up half of the entire trunk space, was not very efficient, and had no thermostat or independent shut-off mechanism.  The option was discontinued after 1941.
The 1953 Chrysler Imperial was the first production car in twelve years to actually have automobile air conditioning, following tentative experiments by Packard in 1940 and Cadillac in 1941. In actually installing optional Airtemp air conditioning units to its Imperials in 1953, Chrysler beat Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile which added air conditioning as an option in the 1953 model year.
In 1954 the Nash Ambassador was the first American automobile to have a front-end, fully integrated heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system.  The Nash-Kelvinator corporation used its experience in refrigeration to introduce the automobile industry's first compact and affordable, single-unit heating and air conditioning system optional for its Nash models.  This was the first mass market system with controls on the dash and an electric clutch.  This first true refrigerated air conditioner system was also compact and easily serviceable with all of its components installed under the hood or in the cowl area.
Our current VIN system was born in 1981.  In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States standardized the format.   It required all over-the-road-vehicles sold to contain a 17-character VIN.  VINs were first used in 1954.  From 1954 to 1981, there was no accepted standard for these numbers,different manufacturers used different formats.  Prior to 1954, it was very popular to use the engine serial number as the identifier on the issued title for many states.