A Story and a Studebaker

On this date in 1975 the Baltimore Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 28-14. Why am I mentioning this? I had access to Colts season tickets in 1974 and 1975. My father bought them from one of his customers who, after 15 seasons of excellence from 1957-1971, had grown disgusted with the Colts after Bob The Red-Faced Owner purchased them in 1972 and the team had poor seasons in 1972 and 1973. Technically, though, the tickets were still his.

The Colts had another poor season in 1974 and began the 1975 season with a 1-4 record. That one win, by the way, was in the first week of the season against the Chicago Bears. Making his NFL debut for the Bears that day was someone you might have heard of: Walter Payton. How’d he do? He carried the ball eight times for zero yards.

Anyway…by this point in the season the Colts had jelled into a good team. They had won five consecutive games going into the Kansas City contest. As I always did, I attended the game with my friend Jeff. By this time, he was old enough to drive (I wasn’t) and he drove us to the game in exchange for a ticket, technically. His father, who owned and ran a deli, provided lunch as always. According to Pro Football Reference the game-time temperature was 49°. I forgot my coat…I do remember being very cold and I remember the excitement when the Colts’ fine running back Lydell Mitchell broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run. He was a very good player, but was not the fastest back in the NFL.

The next morning as I woke for school I didn’t feel right. I was light-headed, had little appetite and even felt a little dizzy. Nevertheless, I attended school on that Monday. However, between the next-to-last and last class periods of the day I became violently ill including spiking a fever. I must have been some sight as I walked into 7th-period Spanish class because the teacher said to me that I looked awful and she offered me the chance to go home. I replied that since it was already the last period I would just wait until the end of the day. I didn’t attend school the rest of the week as I was quite sick.

I am no doctor—I don’t even play one on TV—but I have read in multiple places that if the human body has to work harder than usual to maintain normal body temperature (the curse of being a warm-blooded animal), then the immune system is compromised. I guess I didn’t necessarily catch whatever made me sick at the game, but I have no doubt that being outside without a coat for three-plus hours was the catalyst for my becoming ill.

Postscript: the Colts won their final nine games of the 1975 season to finish at 10-4 and claim their first of three consecutive AFC East titles. After those three seasons the team was never good again for the rest of their tenure in Baltimore. QB Bert Jones’ injuries and diminished effectiveness (he was NFL MVP in 1976 before the injuries) as well as the trading of star players who held out because Bob The Red-Faced Owner refused to pay them market salaries contributed to six consecutive losing seasons including a 2-22-1 record in 1981 and 1982 combined.

My father’s customer refused to sell him his season tickets after 1975 because the Colts were, once again, a good team. By the time the team faltered I was in college and attending the games would not have been convenient.

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The post title is not “A Story About A Studebaker”…As is my wont I have been thinking about the debate as to whether or not the 1950 Studebakers sold well because of the Bullet Nose design or in spite of the design. Those who think the latter claim that Studebaker sales reached their all-time high in 1950 because of the postwar sellers market. Well, here is a chart that I believe answers the question:

 

YEAR STUDEBAKER TOTAL US PROD STUDEBAKER PCT
1947 161,498 3,363,234 4.8%
1948 186,526 3,414,745 5.5%
1949 129,303 5,243,764 2.5%
1950 344,164 6,526,809 5.3%
1951 268,559 5,652,414 4.8%
1952 186,219 4,652,275 4.0%
1953 169,599 6,523,270 2.6%
1954 81,939 5,815,945 1.4%
1955 133,827 8,338,302 1.6%
1956 85,401 6,203,027 1.4%
1957 74,738 6,483,339 1.2%
1958 53,830 4,567,518 1.2%
1959 138,866 5,929,252 2.3%
1960 132,220 7,055,293 1.9%
1961 70,560 5,249,449 1.3%
1962 102,387 6,677,870 1.5%
1963 83,846 7,395,631 1.1%

 

As Studebaker’s market share more than doubled from 1949 to 1950 and remained at four percent or better through 1952 I would have to conclude that, as idiosyncratic as the design was, the Bullet Nose helped Studebaker sell more cars apart from any change in market conditions. One can also see that despite the “Lark respite” of 1959, once Studebaker share fell below two percent it almost certainly could have never recovered. The Studebaker production figures are for model year and are from Studebaker 1946-1966, The Classic Postwar Years by Richard Langworth compiled by Fred Fox, among others. The industry figures are from the Wikipedia article on annual US auto production. It really doesn’t matter if Studebaker’s market share was 5.3% or 5.5% in 1950, the point is that 1950 market share was much higher than for 1949 and that coincides with the introduction of the Bullet Nose.

 

See the source image

 

From Fine Art America is what I guess is a rendering of a 1950 Studebaker Champion Regal DeLuxe coupe. Frankly, I am not really a fan of this design, but I understand the significance of it.

 

#1975BaltimoreColts

#BulletNoseStudebaker

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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