The 1966 Studebaker Wagonaire featured in this article is very significant because it was in this year that Studebaker ceased production of automobiles. The Studebaker Wagonaire was designed with clean lines and some
Sales during the early 1960's had been declining steadily and the company's president was ousted. The fiscal situation was getting dire.
The company closed it's factory in South Bend Indiana in 1963 and eventually closed it's plant in Hamilton Ontario Canada in 1966. The car marquee had quite a long run with the company's founding in 1852 by the Studebaker brothers. The original company was a popular builder of wagons for pioneers, farmers and the military. Studebaker had a lucrative wagon contract with the federal government during the Civil War.
The 1966 Studebaker Wagonaire was built by the company from 1963 until the company's shut down in 1966. This was a brief time so the Studebaker Wagonaires are somewhat rare. The Wagonaire was based on Studebaker's popular Lark model.
The Studeabker Wagonaire was a six passenger station wagon. Buyers could also buy an optional rear facing third row of seats.
The first Wagonaires built had a sliding roof but there were problems with the mechanism that caused water to leak in and the automaker eventually offered both a fixed roof model and a sliding roof model. The fixed roof model reportedly cost $100 less.
The 1963 to 1966 Wagonaires also had a drop-down tailgate. That feature plus the sliding roof gave the vehicle cargo hauling attributes of a pickup.
Production in 1963 was actually stopped for a while for the roof problem to be corrected. This was a retractable roof panel that was over the car's cargo area which would slide under the forward roof panel. Apparently the drainage tubes had a tendency to clog resulting in water getting into the cabin section.
The sliding roof design was the creation of designer Brooks Stevens who was asked by Studebaker's president to create something new without spending a lot of money.
Studebaker needed a new model but really didn't have adequate funds in the early 1960's. It was said that Stevens based the sliding roof on one of his 1959 concept cars. Some have said that the sliding glass sunroofs of today's automobiles were inspired by what Studebaker and Stevens did back in 1963.
Studebaker promoted the new Wagonaire extensively. The company called the car three vehicles in one. They contended that the Studebaker Wagonaire was a cargo hauler, a passenger sedan and with the sliding rear roof, a convertible as well.
About 12,000 Studebaker Wagonaires were built during the first 1963 model year but during it's last year of production, and the company's last year in business, only about 600 were produced. A total of 19,500 Studebaker Wagonaires were built over it's three year life span.
1966 Studebaker Wagonair Specifications
The standard engine with this vehicle was a 170 cubic inch inline six cylinder. For those wanting more power, there were two V-8's offered as options.
One was a 259 cubic inch and the other a 289 cubic inch. It was said there actually was a third engine option available which was a high performance 289 cubic inch V-8 that could deliver 240 horsepower and with a super charger added could put out over 280 horsepower. These high performance engines were the Avanti R Series. The Studebaker Wagonaire with a four speed manual transmission and an R2 Super Charger could move.
Transmission choices included a three or four speed manual and a three speed automatic.
The Wagonaire's wheelbase was 113.0 inches, length 194.0 inches, width 71.5 inches and height 54.8 inches.
Front suspension was Independent ball joint with coil springs. Rear suspension were longitudinal leaf springs.
Brakes on the 1966 model were hydraulic.
The new car base price for the 1966 Studebaker Wagonaire was a bit over $2,800.
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The Studebaker Wagonaire is a Rare Automobile
As mentioned above, there were only 19,500 Studeabaker Wagonaire's built during it's three year run.
Probably the rarest of these would be a 1963 Wagonaire with the rear sliding roof and a R2 Super Charger. While the Wagonaire is fairly rare it hasn't been on collector's radar screens like some other 1960's cars. Because of this the selling prices for restored Wagonaires are relatively low considering the car's classic attributes and it's short production run.
Prices for restored Studebaker Wagonaires have been in the range of $10,000 to $15,000. The vehicle makes a good restoration project and some totally non restored Wagonaires have sold for a few thousand dollars, and that's even for one in running condition. The trick of course is to locate one.
(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)