1963 Studebaker Lark: Quality and Durability for the Budget-Minded
The 1963 Studebaker Lark brought auto consumers several remarkable models: a two-door Sedan, a four-door Sedan, and a four-door Wagonaire. Each model was designed with class and style with American buyers' budgets in mind. The Lark's design was advertised as being born "From the Advanced Thinking of Studebaker" and this thinking was evident in all the practical features and the advanced sturdiness of the car’s build.
Customers were asked to base their Studebaker purchase decision on several things: operating and maintenance costs, comfort, convenience, durability, and initial purchase price. And according to Studebaker, the Lark would fill all these needs and more. Let's see what Lark buyers could expect in 1963. Lark's Styling The styling of the exterior was dignified and was not spoiled by over-decoration. It was simple but elegant with crisp, clean lines. On the inside there was sturdy vinyl trim, which would normally cost extra, but was standard on the Lark. The upholstery was made of smart, two-tone vinyl with rich color choices. The interiors were completely washable and resistant to abuse, thus, making them long-lasting.
The dash was Safety Padded with easy-to-read controls on the instrument panel to add a touch of elegance. The instrument panel featured large direct reading dials with an ammeter and oil gauge. Soft illumination made night reading easy for safer driving after dark. There were also "aircraft-type" switches for the heating and lighting controls. There were rocker-type switches that could be operated with just a flick of the finger and could not come loose or drop off.
For added comfort, the seats were constructed and reinforced with coil springs, which allowed the seats to maintain their original contour for more than 100,000 miles. Quality padding was used along with foam rubber to give even more cushioning for all passengers. Also, heavy-duty seat springs with additional coils could be ordered as an option for those who wanted extra seat strength.
The Lark featured a big passenger compartment to give everyone more room to stretch. It had more legroom than some luxury cars. The posture-right seats were chair height, which gave the driver more support while driving. The floors were flat with no wells for safe entrance and exit, and none of the floor space was positioned in such a way to collect water or snow. The car had big, wide door openings to make loading and unloading easy for big packages, and to give easy access for passengers. There was also a huge windshield for better visibility. The windshield could be kept clear at all times with the Lark's new wide sweep windshield wipers with two-speed control. These wipers were electric for immediate, positive action.
The 1963 Lark's Durable Body The Lark was advertised as having better-built quality for safety and roadability, similar to that of many expensive cars. It had a full steel frame with amazing strength. The frame construction offered torsion rigidity and reduced costs for many major collision repairs when needed. The construction provided maximum safety, which surrounded the entire body and cushioned any sudden impact. With the extra-strength box-section construction, the Lark's body provided a relaxing, quiet ride with lasting beauty. It had a roof panel supported by heavy box-section posts. The car was a one-piece unit, welded together of all sheet metal, with a welded rear window shelf and cowl. Also, the underbody was rust-proofed to meet strict United States ordinance specifications.
The wide doors on the Lark were made with a double panel design, and the hinges were mounted to the box-section areas so the doors would fit very tightly to reduce noise and drafts. Slamming the doors caused a deep thud sound to reveal the high quality of their build. A 3-in-1 Station Wagon - The Wagonaire The standard Wagonaire for this year was often called a “3-in-1 wagon” because it could be used as an open-top family sedan, a sport wagon, or a business van. It served every purpose and came with an optional solid steel top. Load capacity was enhanced by the Wagonaire's exclusive slide-open steel top and a flat, level tailgate for a sturdy loading platform. There was an optional fold-down concealed ladder. The Wagonaire could be transformed from a six- to an eight-passenger vehicle with a rear-facing third seat. It would fold flat into the floor when not in use.
The spare tire and jack were snugly fitted under the rear floor to save space. Other small items could be placed in this spot as well when leaving the car unattended for a while. The cargo space was 95.5 inches long with the second seat and the tailgate lowered. The floor was smooth and covered with tough vinyl for easy loading. The tailgate would lock and unlock easily, and locked securely with the window closed. An optional electric window operator was available as well.
Other options for the Wagonaire included four captive air puncture-proof tires (included with the rear-facing third seat), a fold-down step at the tailgate, and a roof luggage rack for extra storage space atop the wagon. 1963 Lark Engine and Performance Features The standard engine for 1963 was Studebaker's Skybolt Six engine with 112 horsepower. It had 154 foot-pounds of torque, which gave it muscle-car-like power and great acceleration. It had steel-backed, aluminum-tin plated main and connecting rod bearings for trouble-free operation and a larger, extra rigid crankshaft to resist vibration. The engine had new induction-type manifolding for greater power charge in every cylinder before firing. Lark buyers who wanted more power could also order the optional 259-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
Other features were a Full-Flow oil filter with 4000-mile oil change periods, a high-capacity oil pump, and oversize overhead valves for free-breathing fuel intake. To reduce operating and maintenance costs, Studebaker included an aluminum-coated muffler and tailpipe with 2 1/2 times longer service life, a fully vented gas tank filler, no chrome body molding (to avoid unwanted chrome repairs), more brake lining area, and big 15-inch wheels. The cars also weighed less than many comparable models, which also helped reduce wear and tear on the tires.
Studebaker auto buyers were able to drive with peace of mind, and without spending a fortune. The Lark was touted by Studebaker as the "Perfect Budget Car" and for good reason. It could meet every need for families, business persons, or individuals without breaking the wallet. Some Lark models are still around today for those die-hard Studebaker fans to admire.