Dayton Auto and Memorabilia Museum | Articles
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Articles

The partnership of Mercedes-Benz and Studebaker

Unlikely as it may seem, the luxury German automaker tried to boost U.S. sales with a dying American brand

Mercedes-Benz vehicles are sold today in elegant showrooms, but it wasn’t always so. For several years, starting in 1957, those who wanted a Benz got theirs by visiting a Studebaker dealer.

Historians generally credit Karl Benz with inventing the modern automobile in 1885, but Studebaker was much older. It started as a wagon builder in 1852, and was a major supplier to the Union Army during the Civil War.

It got into horseless carriages with its first electric car in 1902 and added gasoline models two years later, initially buying the chassis from an outside supplier.

Meanwhile, two car companies founded separately by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz merged in Germany in 1926. One of Daimler’s sales agents had agreed to order a new model if it was named for his daughter, Mercedes Jellinek, and the name eventually went on all cars.

Mercedes ad

The Baby Duesenberg

Jay Leno’s Garage features the 1936 Cord 810/812: The Beautiful Baby Duesenberg That Never Caught On. Marking its 75th anniversary this year, the classic Cord 810/812 flopped in the 1930s because of an early reputation for unreliability. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most beautiful sedans in Jay Leno’s garage.

Great Cars: Orphan Cars

Edsel, Corvair, Hudson, Studebaker, Hupmobile, Crosley, Maxwell and more — these are the Orphan cars. Every summer out on the edge of Ypsilanti, Michigan a group of car lovers gather for a car show that has been called eccentric, misguided or just fun. This passionate bunch of auto fanatics hauls out a group of ghost cars that they’ve nurtured for years. These are cars that fizzled and died out. Many of these “orphan cars” had unusual design and engineering features. They were created by people willing to go out on a limb. Unfortunately, the limb broke. But there are dedicated people who savor these marques and have turned these underdogs into show winners. It’s a salute to the fallen that intrigues everyone who attends. Here, King Rose Archives presents a video on Orphan Cars.

Great Cars: Kaiser

Almost everyone knows about Kaiser Permanente — the nationwide HMO but very few have any idea that it sprang from the mind of one of America’s most spectacular entrepreneurs – Henry J. Kaiser. He built the Grand Coulee and Hoover dams, launched more ships than any other builder during World War Two, opened the first steel mill on the West Coast and introduced quilted “Kaiser Aluminum Foil.” In 1945, this legendary California industrialist partnered with automobile executive Joe Frazer to meet the post War demand for cars. The resulting Kaiser-Frazer autos were the last real challenge to the dominance of the Big Three. From 1948 to the mid-‘50’s, Kaiser’s incredible energy created a stir that’s still being felt today. His passenger cars faded away but his transformation of the Jeep from the soldiers’ buddy to an everyday SUV changed the world. Here, King Rose Archives presents a video on Kaiser.

Striking a Cord: 1936 Cord 810 Westchester

The Cord is considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the most aesthetically successful American-built cars of the mid 1930s. Its timeless proportions boasted sleek, distinctive, and unique design innovations, such as retractable headlights — individually raised and lowered by small crank handles located on the dash in front of the driver and passenger — the total elimination of running boards, a front-latched bonnet opening, ‘coffin-nose’ front-end styling, and teardrop-shaped front guards, all of which influenced other manufacturers’ designs in subsequent years. In addition to masterful design, the Cord incorporated radical engineering, including the use of front-wheel drive and an optional supercharged engine …