Top notch automotive experience Studebaker National Museum Indiana

Top notch automotive experience Studebaker National Museum Indiana

The Studebaker National Museum was a great history lesson and a fun experience. There are also displays such as the presidential horse drawn carriages made by Studebaker that go beyond the realm of transportation and illustrate an interesting time in American history. More than just rows of cars parked in a line, the Studebaker National Museum has very nice displays built around the autos that give you a feel for the era of the auto you are viewing.

I was not sure what to expect from a museum that specialized in one auto brand that has been out of business for decades. I was very pleasantly surprised. The Studebaker National Museum does a great job of telling the story of the now defunct Studebaker auto brand. Studebaker was the only major automaker to go from producing horse drawn carriages to automobiles.  The Studebaker brothers were sons of a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, wagon builder and blacksmith who used the family expertise to build bodies for horseless carriages of the early twentieth century.

Like many of the museums devoted to a specific brand, the Studebaker museum tells the story of the Studebaker vehicles as well as the family history of the Studebakers. The museum shares an entrance with the the local history museum. When we purchased the tickets it was not made clear that you could buy tickets to only the Studebaker Museum, and not both museums, but we did not mind.  The tickets to both places includes a tour of the Oliver Mansion which is part of the museum complex. The Oliver family were a very wealthy family of South Bend makers of the Oliver Chilled Plow and other farm equipment.

Even though the Studebaker company has been out of business since the 1960s, I had a personal interest in the brand. I vaguely remember my dad's Studebaker Lark from back in 1963. He was a bit bummed when not long after he purchased it Studebaker announced they were ceasing operations in the United States. They continued on for a few more years in Ontario, Canada, but shut down there in 1966.  The Studebaker Lark was considered a compact car in its day, the Lark was produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966.

If you enjoy antique autos or learning a bit about American history the Studebaker National Museum and the Gilmore Car Museum are not that far apart. On a mid-western road trip we stopped at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, heading east out of Chicago. The museum is roughly 100 miles, about two hours driving time,  east of Chicago, just a few miles south of I-90 in the city of South Bend, Indiana.  We spent the night in South Bend, Indiana and headed north to Hickory Corners, Michigan.