Charles Murray

December 17, 2014

2 Min Read
Taking a Look Back at the Studebaker Assembly Line

A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the country's longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.

"In today's automated era, it's easy to forget how cars used to be put together by human beings on an assembly line," Andrew Beckman, archivist for the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, IN said. "When you look back at the sheer number of people it took to build a car back then, you realize that today we're only using a fraction of that number."

Studebaker Museum is now offering a glimpse of those times in a new exhibit, "Assembly Lines," which focuses on a final assembly line from a Studebaker plant in South Bend. The exhibit includes cars, photos, and schematics of the line that built the company's Lark and Hawk vehicles in 1960.

"It's just 55 years ago, but it really shows how automation and robotics have changed the way we build products today," Beckman said.

From hood assembly to final inspection, we offer a peek at how the old Studebakers were put together. Click on the 1961 Lark below to start the slideshow.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Murray

Charles Murray is a former Design News editor and author of the book, Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car, published by Purdue University Press. He previously served as a DN editor from 1987 to 2000, then returned to the magazine as a senior editor in 2005. A former editor with Semiconductor International and later with EE Times, he has followed the auto industry’s adoption of electric vehicle technology since 1988 and has written extensively about embedded processing and medical electronics. He was a winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for his story, “The Making of a Medical Miracle,” about implantable defibrillators. He is also the author of the book, The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer, published by John Wiley & Sons in 1997. Murray’s electronics coverage has frequently appeared in the Chicago Tribune and in Popular Science. He holds a BS in engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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