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A 1956 Studebaker-Packard Clay Concept Car and a Modeler’s Memories

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  • Anthony Rehling at far left is seen adding clay to the model

Anthony Rehling at age thirty went to work at the new styling section organized in 1953 at the Packard Motor Company. The studio was headed at the time by Bill Schmidt, who hired Dick Teague after he left the General Motors design studios where Rehling had also worked at the time. Packard soon after merged with Studebaker in 1954.

In August of 1956 Rehling and his co-workers went to work on this new Studebaker-Packard styling concept for a sports car that was slated to compete with the Thunderbird. These images of the process give one much more insight into of the modeling process than is normally seen.  The first four photos show the form just starting to take shape with the application of clay to the wooden armature.

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The last four photos above and below show the final shape of the quite modern-looking model trimmed with wheel covers and a grille. Rehling’s recollections mention that this model ended up wearing a Studebaker badge, which leaves us with a couple of unanswered questions: Did this model make it any farther through the design process? Was it ever given a name?

The photos and information for this post came from Last Days In The (Packard) Bunker: A Clay Modeler’s Memories via Deans Garage, where you can read the rest of Rehling’s interesting story that ends with Packard closing. Can any of our readers tell us anything more about this uniquely-styled model?


12 responses to “A 1956 Studebaker-Packard Clay Concept Car and a Modeler’s Memories

  1. I heard that the clay used for that is a special clay just for that purpose,
    not art school clay.

    Also they probably don’t do it that way anymore, special super-duper
    umpteen axis CNC machines are more and more being used now.

    • Chavant in New Jersey makes the clay for the whole auto modeling industry worldwide. I know of no competitors. It is not the simple modeling clay like that which kids get.

  2. It might have worked out OK if they hadn’t used the greenhouse from a Studebaker Champ pickup. I like the front end a lot, and the fins and scoops may have been softened as industry styling changed.

  3. Being this was 1956 it was 4 years before the Champ came out in 1960 , so they may have used this study to style the Champ, not the other way around. The grille looks like a 1958 or 60 Chrysler to me!

  4. While the “Greenhouse” is not particularly pretty, it is only similar not the same as a “T” Cab Champ Pickup, note the ’62 GM Type, very advanced for the time, “in the roof” Windshield!

    That is a good start, for a Sports Car but I am sure it was shot down by Studebaker Packard Management and never got near a Production Prototype Car.

    It does have stock Accessory Studebaker Wheelcovers, not Packard.


  5. If Bob Doehler had still been alive I would have asked if any of his designs done for Randy Faurot (in house Studebaker design chief) sprung from this one. I do know he was pushing a little four seater whose rear axle was under the second row passenger’s knees, making it the useful platform for a dandy lithe two seater. It had the face of a Ferrari. Bob was the fellow who really made the Avanti design “work” as he tweaked the eighth scale model into the full sized clay with the help of two clay modelers I got to meet. In design it is seldom the overall themes but the subtle surface development of them that produces charisma.

  6. You do know that Loewy’s Bob Bourke team had already done a better concept than this one for the Studebaker two seater prior to the Packard Schmidt team arriving. It was shown in a full sized clay around the time the 1955 fish mouth was being done as the first revision to the 1953 masterpiece. Gene Garfinkle did precise drawings of it for Road & Track at the introduction of the Avanti in 1962 which I cannot post here. The clay and his drawings do agree perfectly, and some of the modelers are recognizable as Loewy people.

  7. A fine book called “Designs for Studebaker” book by John Bridges, published around 1985 first published the Loewy two seater clay black and white shots, two views, received from Bob Bourke himself. There was nothing about it that resembled any of the three Loewy sporting creations done in Europe, namely the Boano Jag of 1955, the Avanti-esque BMW of 1957 or the really horrid Lancia of around 1960. One can hope that one day someone will actually do a fiberglas car of 100 inches wheelbase that will enclose existing Studebaker 1955 hardware, from the Garfinkle and Bridges source material I reference. All the folks mentioned except Mr. Bridges, a guitar “picker” from Louisville, I know to have passed on, however.

  8. Never seen this one before.

    I once published an article on the last 57-58 Packards and their necessary kinship with Studebaker parts and panels, and the desperate circumstances. I think I called it ‘Pride and Poverty’.

    This sports car does have a Chrysler-esque grille, but that did not appear until 1960 on Mopars. Turn it upside down though, and it’s close to the 1959 Lark grille.

    The scalloped sides reference ’56 Corvettes while the roof is unsuccessfully reaching for some kind of iconic design, a little like the Thunderbird acheived.

    Canted fins were minor on Fords of ’56 and did not grow on the Hawks until ’57. Perhaps Ford’s Mystere showcar was the influence here.

    This is a clean sheet design that owes nothing to previous Packard (or Studebaker) practice, except the production wheelcovers. It’s hard to imagine S-P being in good enough shape in ’56 to undertake a low-production sports car. All it could have been was a one-off show-pony for the car show circuit.

    Perhaps they were reaching for concepts to use on a next generation Caribbean version of the next standard Packard.

    Perhaps it was a morale-booster for the design staff – there was little else to be happy about in S-P at the time.

  9. I have seen some of the original artwork for this clay. Pretty sure they were done by Dick Samsen. I’m sure I have photos of them somewhere. Hampton

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