Society of Automotive Historians - Details of Books Written by Our Members
Robert R. Ebert
Champion of the Lark: Harold Churchill and the Presidency of Studebaker – Packard, 1959-1961.
An analysis of the leadership of Harold Churchill at Studebaker – Packard through the introduction of the Lark in 1959 and his subsequent service to the corporation through the ending of Studebaker automobile production.
Number of Pages: 188 Number of Images – Color: None Black and white: 96
Price: $39.95 ISBN: 978-0-7864-7420-2
Publisher: McFarland Year of Publication: 2013
Link to Website: www.mcfarlandpub.com
Table of Contents:
|Chapter 1: From Boy Tinkerer to Automotive Engineer||9|
|Chapter 2: Erskines, Rocknes, Champions, Weasels and Merger||14|
|Chapter 3: Accepting and Facing the Challenge||28|
|Chapter 4: The Lark Miracle||55|
|Chapter 5: Evolution of the Lark||73|
|Chapter 6: Churchill – Beyond the Presidency||91|
|Chapter 7: Churchill Era Studebaker-Packard Products: An Assessment||99|
|Chapter 8: Harold Churchill in Retrospect and Perspective||131|
|Appendix A: Studebaker Sedan Styling Evolution 1953 – 1966||157|
|Appendix B: Studebaker Sport Coupe Styling Evolution 1953 – 1964||162|
|Appendix C: Studebaker – Packard Vehicle Specifications, 1953 – 1966||166|
Reviews of Book:
Who better to write an examination of Studebaker’s journey through the merger with Packard and the man at the helm than an avowed Studebaker addict and economist? Robert Ebert is definitely the person to pen this very readable history of a difficult time in Studebaker’s history. Having access to the corporate board minutes, oral histories, internal documents, media reports and more, Ebert has taken what could be a difficult-to-read subject and made it interesting, informative and understandable. It does need to be said that this is not a biography of Churchill, but an examination of his rise at Studebaker and how his work shaped his presidency. Churchill was an advocate of “realism and common sense” and that vision led to the development of the Lark, which helped Studebaker at a time when it was desperately needed. Ebert’s clear and concise treatment of the labyrinth that is corporate politics and policies from the corporate side is one which belongs on the shelf of automotive historians, whether one is a Studebaker fan or not.
- Kim Gardner Antique Automobile, May/June 2013
“Perhaps in a broader and more philosophical sense, Churchill was successful, not only as a corporate leader, but as a determined, positive, visionary, understanding, and decent human being.”
Many who read this may already be conversant regarding the basics of Studebaker history. Further, there is little in this book of a biographical nature on its subject Harold Churchill. So what merits it being considered a worthy addition to your library?
That answer is two-fold. One is the author’s expertise and the other has to do with the source documents he utilized in order to write the book. An added plus is that the author is a skilled communicator. That means his words are lucid, readable, and interesting with the reader never in danger of drifting into a state of ennui.
In a charming response to an inquiry from your reviewer, Ebert conveyed that, “If truth be known, while I pretend that my interest in Studebaker-Packard is academic and research-based, the fact is it is an addiction. Although I have written numerous papers and articles (first one in 11th grade) on Studebaker-Packard, and my master’s thesis was on the fall of Packard, this is my first full book related to the topic. I became addicted to Studebaker-Packard via the 1957 Packard when it was introduced in January 1957. My first car was a ’59 Lark bought in 1962 and there has been an S-P product in our garage ever since. Again, I repeat, it’s an addiction.”
What is not shared in the foregoing paragraph is that his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees are in economics. Subsequently Ebert devoted his professorial career to teaching economics on the university level. So while he may have been indulging his addiction, we readers are the beneficiaries.
Ebert approaches understanding that which transpired at Studebaker-Packard 1956–61 from the perspective of its executives and in particular Harold Churchill. While this may not be the usual approach for an automotive history, it is revealing. As an example, it is unlikely that a history with a product or consumer focus would have considered it important, much less cited what Churchill noted shortly after he had been promoted in 1955 from a career engineer at Studebaker to head the division, and then, a scant year later, was promoted again to the presidency overall of Studebaker-Packard (1956–61). What Churchill wrote was:
“Well, I had a shocking experience. I think I was and still am . . . a loyal Studebaker individual; my devotion and responsibility was centered on my fellow Studebaker employees. The first thing you do when you become president of an organization, your loyalties immediately change. Your responsibility is to the owners of the business. I knew this was going to happen, but it takes a little adjusting to do.”
These days we’re used to hearing a top exec portrayed as a hero one minute, then vilified the next. Yet even when Churchill stepped aside in order to permit Sherwood Egbert to assume the presidency, Churchill remained in active service with S-P as a member of the Board of Directors. Moreover after Egbert’s health forced S-P to retire him and Byers Burlingame became president, subsequently making the decision to end Studebaker production in the US, it was Churchill who was instrumental in smoothing the transition to Canadian assembly.
As the bibliography and chapter notes make clear, Ebert and his research associates spent hours combing through the corporate papers most of which are housed in the Studebaker National Museum. They also read numerous period publications as well as many others published more recently. So while you already know the story best from the product perspective, now you can gain from the thoughts and decision making processes that went on well before any announcements to the public.
By the way, do not be influenced by the marginal quality of the cover’s appearance. Something obviously happened—or didn’t happen but should have—during the scanning or preparation of the image for use on the book’s cover. The original image is from Studebaker’s three-page November 1958 advertisement introducing Lark. The cover of the actual book appears just as “murky” as you see it here.
So don’t let appearances keep you from enjoying and learning from Robert Ebert’s very readable Champion of the Lark, Harold Churchill and the Presidency of Studebaker-Packard, 1956-1961.
Copyright 2013, Helen V Hutchings (speedreaders.info).
Studebaker and Byers A. Burlingame: End of an Automotive Legacy
An analysis of the last three years of Studebaker automobile production after Byers A. Burlingame, a career Studebaker-Packard executive, became president. Using primarily corporate internal documents, the decisions to move Studebaker production from South Bend to Hamilton, Ontario in 1964 and then to terminate Studebaker production in 1966 are discussed and analyzed from management and economic viewpoints.
Number of Pages: 62 Number of Images – Color: 6 Black and white: 17
Price: $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-9894906-9-6
Publisher: Cicero Books LLC Year: 2016
Link to Website: http://cicerobooks.com/Shop.php
Table of Contents:
Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figures
The Studebaker Corporation in 1963
Byers A. Burlingame Becomes President of Studebaker Corporation
Burlingame Confronts the Automotive Challenges of Studebaker
The Situation Becomes Dire
Byers Burlingame and Studebaker: An Evaluation
Appendix A: Gordon E. Grundy to Byers A. Burlingame, August 19, 1965
Appendix B: Byers A. Burlingame to Gordon E. Grundy, August 24, 1965
Appendix C: Studebaker Corporation Divisions in 1967
Appendix D: Basic Specifications, Burlingame Presidency Era Studebakers