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Studebaker Coupe

Carroll Gantz
Bourke, Robert E.
Studebaker Coupe

This Studebaker Commander Starliner hard-top coupé design was acclaimed by the Museum of Modern Art not as a design, but as "a work of art." It became known as the "Loewy Coupé" or "Bourke Coupé." It was designed starting in 1951 by Robert E. Bourke (1916-1996), who headed Raymond Loewy Associates Studebaker operation in South Bend, IN from 1949 to 1955, with help from his assistants, Randy Faurot and Holden "Bob" Koto. A blend of the best features of European and American design, it was longer, wider and lower than previous models. A sedan derivation was also developed for production. Bourke had attended the Chicago Art Institute and started as a staff designer for Sears, Roebuck in 1935, joining Studebaker in 1940. In 1944 he moved to Loewy's independant group in South Bend, and worked with Virgil Exner (1909-1973) on Loewy's famous 1947 post-war Studebaker design which astounded the market. Bourke replaced Exner as head of the Loewy group at Studebaker, after Loewy fired Exner for conspiring with Studebaker Engineering VP Roy E. Cole to by-pass Loewy in the design of the 1947 models. Loewy had started with Studebaker in 1936 as a consultant for exteriors, and also designed Studebaker's last car before its demise, the Avanti of 1962.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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