“DID you like it?” asks Cecil Klopfenstein, a bearded volunteer at the information desk of the Studebaker National Museum. The 85-year-old is noticeably proud of the museum’s permanent exhibition, which retraces the glorious, 100-plus-year history of Studebaker, a wagon-maker turned carmaker. Mr Klopfenstein worked for Studebaker from 1949 until the South Bend factory closed in 1963, and he is still the happy owner of two Studebaker cars.
Indiana's South Bend used to be a company town, hosting the headquarters of one of world’s most popular makers of carriages and wagons in the 19th century and one of the big four American carmakers in the 20th. The company was founded by five Studebaker brothers—Henry, Clement, John, Peter and Jacob—the sons of German immigrants who came as blacksmiths and foundrymen to South Bend. The Studebaker brothers' big breakthrough came when they supplied wagons for the Union army during the civil war. Ulysses Grant, the leader of the Union army, used a Studebaker carriage during his term as America’s president in the 1870s. Abraham Lincoln drove a Studebaker to the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC,...Continue reading