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More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story Hardcover – November 1, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The venerable Studebaker family was noted for its popular wagons and carriages in the 19th century. The company was able to make the transition from wagon manufacture to automobiles in the early 20th century, the first motor car rolling off the line in 1902. Author Bonsall (The Lincoln Motorcar) reveals these and other facts in his workmanlike rendition of the Studebaker story, which ended with its precipitous decline in the 1960s. Along the way, the company managed to acquire the Pierce-Arrow and Packard, and teamed with Mercedes-Benz in the 1950s as distributor of their products in America. But nothing could help Studebaker against the increasing size of the "Big Three" American auto manufacturers and the startling popularity of imports, beginning with the Volkswagon Beetle in the 1950s. Chapters follow a rather formulaic approach of history punctuated by quotes from company documents. Certainly, the book is well researched and the subject interesting, but the less-than-compelling narrative leaves the reader feeling that a Studebaker is just another extinct automotive brand. For transportation collections only. Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"The result of a prodigious amount of research and admirably organized, this is the fullest and most detailed account of the Studebaker automobile."—James A. Ward, University of Tennessee


"Many books have chronicled the Studebaker story, but this one by noted automotive historian Thomas Bonsall is undoubtedly the definitive work. . . . More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story is a worthy investment for anyone who wants a complete and highly accurate history of one of America's longest lasting industrial giants."—Old Cars Weekly


"Bonsall has not only found new approaches to the subject, but sheds fresh light on the oft-rehearsed reasons for the Edsel's death. The book is well written, flows nicely, and artfully mixes personalities and corporate policies. It adds a great deal to our understanding of one of the 20th century's biggest corporate disasters."—James A. Ward, University of Tennessee at Chatanooga


"This is a carefully researched and detailed overview of what might be termed the "Studebaker Empire". . .a story dating from Studebaker's first wagons of 1852 to its cars built through 1966, to the last cars assembled in Hamilton, Ontario. . . . You may already have one or more books on Studebaker. . .there have been several. But More Than They Promised is another story. And it's a good one."—Antique Automobile


"As we face another round of consolidation in the global automobile industry, the story of Studebaker and its exit from vehicle assembly in the 1960s is of particular interest. . . . Bonsall has produced a readable history of the company. Organised around the 'great' men who ran Studebaker, the volume's strength is its discussion of product design and philosophy. . . . [The] volume is a useful addition to the business history literature. . . ." —Business History Review
"Thomas Bonsall, a well-known author among antique car enthusiasts, brings considerable knowledge of automobile history to this telling of the rise and fall of the Studebaker Corporation, a company whose history spanned over a hundred years. This is not the first history of Studebaker, but readers will find information not covered in other histories of the company."—Business History Review
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804735867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804735865
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"More Than They Promised" was an excellent read. It detailed the entire history of Studebaker from its beginnings as wagon makers to its entry into the manufacture of automobiles.
Particularly interesting was the postwar era, especially after the disasterous merger with Packard. It SHOULD have worked, but in reality it was a total failure. The Sherwood Egbert era was very well detailed with his last-ditch efforts to save the automobile operations of what had by then become a conglomerate. At the time of their death, cars were but a small part of the empire.
I am fascinated by the Studebaker story, although I was only 8 years old when the last Studebaker was produced. I have often wondered what would have happened had they survived. Would they have survived the increasingly oppressive government safety and emission requirements? Would they have survived the fuel crises of '73 and '79?
I have had the pleasure of visiting the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, IN. Having seen these beautiful cars, particularly the "Loewy coupes" of 1953-55, I couldn't help but draw the conclusion that Studebaker was too far ahead of their customers.
Even if you are not a "car geek" as I am, you would likely enjoy reading "More Than They Promised".
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Format: Hardcover
I was born in South Bend and my neighbors and relatives worked at Studebaker. This book is an excellent portrait of a company sliding inexorably downhill. Some of the factors that killed Studebaker were internal (labor relations, high unit costs, lack of due diligence about the company's condition in the Packard merger) and some were external (George Romney's refusal to form a fourth major out of American Motors). Discussed in detail are the beautiful cars Studebaker built and their skill in managing the difficult transition from wagonmakers to automakers. (Lincoln rode in a Studebaker carriage to Ford's theater) Bonsall doesn't hesitate to point out the flaws and missteps Studebaker made, though. This book is an affectionate portrait of an American company that was part of the landscape for a century and has now vanished without a trace. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent overview of the life and death of an important part of the history of the U.S. auto industry. It covers all periods of the company's history well and combines the stories of people, products, and the entire industry very nicely.

The chapter on the Avanti is a marginal addition to the narrative but the last chapter on why Studebaker failed is excellent. The author points out that most readers of auto industry history focus their interest on product and forget the impact of other factors such as competitors' actions, shifting consumer taste, and the health of the overall economy. The role of the UAW in Studebaker's demise is also presented clearly.

The book is well laid out with enough photographs to keep it visually interesting without being overwhelming.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand how the US car market got to where it is, this is a great book to start with. Its amazing how history tends to repeat itself, just with different players. Great read, I have passed my copy on to other family members who also enloyed the history lesson.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was fascinated by this account of Studebaker. Superbly researched, the author navigates the complex web of personalities, market forces and government action that produced Studebaker's demise. Credit is given to the often heroic efforts of those who stepped in to try to keep the company solvent, yet how their own hubris and soft-on-labor policies persisted even after several near-misses with insolvency. Equal credit is given to the brilliant engineering produced without the cash reserves of the big three.

Lost on many is the fact that Studebaker was America's oldest vehicle manufacturer at the time, yet its board of directors chose to give up. Should be required reading for business school MBA's.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in an impartial and informative look at the Studebaker family and products from wagons through automobiles and why they eventually failed this is the book for you. It reads well and keeps you interested. I have passed it along to others who have enjoyed it as much as I did.
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By deeppond on November 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Studebaker owner/enthusiast, I found this book to be an excellent overall summary of the Studebaker Company and it's products. I knew a bit about how the Studebaker brothers started the company, but this book filled in many of the blanks, plus listed all the key players throughout it's history. The analysis of the probable primary factors in the closing of the company was especially interesting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you ever have a car guy and they love the studebaker this is the book for them. I bought it for my husband and he love it he learned allot about the family and the cars.
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