From this post comes this observation:
“Studebaker’s V-8 was one of the best engines of the era. We have pointed out in previous posts that it had one major design factor that severely limited Studebaker’s ability to expand it: the bore center spacing was such that the engine could not practically be expanded beyond 289 cubic inches. We perceive of that now as being a flaw in the design, but we need to understand the engineers’ reasons for designing the engine as they did. The engineers DELIBERATELY designed the engine to be limited in displacement. Deliberately?!
Yes, because South Bend’s engine engineers had counted on postwar predictions from General Motors Research Labs that future gasoline octane ratings would soon rise above that of aviation fuel. Charles Kettering, GM’s research boss, saw higher octane ratings and higher engine compression ratios as the next big thing.
Studebaker bought into that and developed its postwar V-8 so it would accept compression ratios of up to 14:1. The idea was to increase engine power and efficiency by progressively raising compression rather than by expanding displacement. Unfortunately for Studebaker, the oil companies didn’t go along with Kettering’s vision, automotive octane numbers stayed flat, and Studebaker was left holding the small-displacement bag.”
Besides noting that history is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future, even when the arena is at least partially under human control, think about the ramifications of this point. Studebaker was in no position to cover the waterfront; that is, it did not have the resources to design multiple V-8 blocks. Chevrolet/GM could develop a small-block and big-block V-8 with different overall exterior dimensions, including different bore center spacing, and not just different displacements. Studebaker could not afford that approach.
I have a graduate degree in Economics (which, at this point, will get me breakfast at McDonald’s as long as I also have $5). Once an industry begins to shake out in terms of market share—and luck/stochastic variation can play a large role in that process—it can be virtually impossible for those firms with smaller share to ever gain market power. Market share begets more market share. Once the US auto industry developed into The Big Three and everyone else, and this happened sooner than most people realize, the demise of the Independents may simply have become inevitable. (For model year 1941, the last full year of production before World War II, all of the top eight makes in terms of production were Big Three makes.)
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases. It will never pass into nothingness…”
– John Keats
From autoblog.com a picture of a Studebaker Avanti.
From conceptcarz.com a picture of a Studebaker Commander Starliner coupe.
From Keats again, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases. It will never pass into nothingness…”
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Not all of the posts are about Studebaker, but a lot of the posts are about automobiles.