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This buds for you, Clement Studebaker.

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Today in automotive history is the birthdate of Clement Studebaker, who - along with his brother Henry - founded H & C Studebaker Company, the blacksmith and wagon shop that would eventually come to manufacture world-famous automobiles under the Studebaker banner.

Born in Pennsylvania as the second-oldest of five brothers, Clement moved to Indiana as a young man with his older brother, Henry. In 1852, the two men opened their smithing business on the corner of Michigan and Jefferson in what is now downtown South Bend, Indiana.

Originally a manufacturer of wagon parts, the company branched out to produce their own wagons before being commissioned by the U.S. Army for a large order of wagons in 1858. Clement and Henry’s brother, John M. Studebaker, sold his business in Pennsylvania and moved to Indiana to buy out Henry’s share of H & C Studebaker. Henry was eager to sell since, as a devoted German Baptist Dunkard and pacifist, he was vehemently opposed to supporting any Army efforts. Clement became the head of the company, welcoming younger brothers Peter and Jacob into the fold and renaming the business Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company.

At the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, Studebaker’s contract with the Army became incredibly lucrative and catapulted the company to become the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world at the time. In 1889, President Harrison commissioned the official White House presidential carriages from Studebaker, then in 1900, Studebaker carriages were used for the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

Clement Studebaker died in 1901 at the age of 70, just one year before the company’s first automobile, an electric battery-powered model, was produced. It wasn’t until 1911 when Henry Goldman and Lehman Brothers struck a deal with the sons of the original five brothers to finance Studebaker’s expansion into gasoline-powered automobiles, which were commissioned by the British government for all of the military forces at the outset of World War I, further cementing the marquee’s legacy as one the world’s premier automobile manufacturers.

-Trey Fennell



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