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February 15, 2021

Amazing Vintage Photos of Studebaker’s Giant 1931 President Roadster, the Biggest Car in the World

When the so-called “biggest car in the world” was unveiled in 1931 it caused quite the stir. Studebaker, one of the USA’s leading car manufacturers at the time, was behind this mammoth motor.

The giant Studebaker was built by a group of sixty employees at the Studebaker Experimental Body Department located in South Bend, Indiana. The massive size Studebaker took over three months to build and was generated by Mr. Paul Auman and his creative craftsmen design team.

The total length of the car was 41 feet long with a wheelbase of 325 inches. It was 13 ½ feet high, 15 feet wide, and weight 5 ½ tons. The steering wheel was 44 inches in diameter and the oval shaped headlights were 33 ½ inches of size. The wire wheels were the most abundant to make for each one was 6 feet and 8 inches in diameter, weighing 600lbs each. The Firestone Tire Company supplied the enormous tires for the project and replicated the original Studebaker tires. The massive Studebaker model was built of wood and was shaped and assembled on the test track of the Indiana Proving Grounds. The model was painted in two shades of green, which at the time, was a popular color for Studebaker models.

To advertise the giant Studebaker model, a nine minute film was created. The film clip was used as a filler for the movie Wild Flowers directed by Mr. Alf Goulding. The film was also used for publicity reasons and had played extensively in RKO theaters coast to coast for movie goers in which many consumers thoroughly enjoyed generating a great deal of publicity.

The Daily Review and Motion Pictures stated, “One of the cleverest, if not the best, advertising reel we have ever seen is the one produced on behalf of the Studebaker automobile. It brings in the Studebaker Champions, so well-known to radio audiences and they used a giant motor car as the stage for their entrainment”. The Studebaker Company also used the model for other advertising promotions and tourist attractions. Many groups of dealers and salesmen posed for photographs by the large size Studebaker for added publicity shots.

After the many years passed, the great public relations for the giant Studebaker came to an end. No one really wanted to part with this very unique size car and therefore it stood tall until 1934 when unfortunate weather deteriorate the model. In 1936, the Studebaker Company officials felt that the large size Studebaker model had outlived its usefulness as an advertising and publicity symbol and it was time for the model to be destroyed. Officials felt that the model served its purpose for many years highlighting hundreds of people and events.

On May 17, 1936, Mr. Paul G. Hoffman, former President of Studebaker, Miss Jesse Meyer, Secretary of Studebaker, and the South Bend Fire Department, applied a torch to the oil-soaked large size Studebaker model. The entire model was engulfed in flames and within 30 minutes the historical large size Studebaker was gone leaving only great memories in history.

Today, the wheel covers that were a part of the original giant Studebaker were saved and are on loan to the Studebaker Museum by Lawrence White, whose father at the time, was the proving ground superintendent when the giant model was destroyed.

1 comment:

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