Last weekend Kiwi and I had a bit of an american grockle (tourist) day. We figured we would stay local and learn more about some of the local history. We visited the Studebaker museum, which is full of original cars from the Studebaker industry. The Studebaker’s marketed as ‘the largest vehicle house in the world’, there oven range was also known as the ‘largest range manufacture in the world’, and I’ve noticed some places still make this claim, I’m looking at you South Bend Chocolate company which states its ‘the world’s largest chocolate factory’ a claim I most defiantly dispute.
The Studebaker factory closed down fifty years ago, yet the factory assembly plant building still remains largely untouched. A large concrete shell, its quite impressive, erie and sad to see such a vast building just sitting there, empty. The car parks are slowly being overrun with grass and weeds, and the area is quiet and desolate, although there are many plans to reuse the building. Back in the 1950’s this industry was booming, with Studebaker on of the most successful car industries in the US. Sadly the car industry and economy died, much like in Europe and this style of classic car just isn’t found as much today.
There is also a local park, now called Benedix woods that used to be part of the factory as the proving ground, where cars were taken to be road tested. Many of the roads still exist, and the park is surrounded by pillars. Even better is the existing tree monument spelling out Studebaker – only visible from the air, but we had fun standing amongst the letters.
The old family residents still stands and now serves as a tourist attraction and restaurant, rumour has it they serve afternoon tea at the weekends, so we will have to go see it at some point.
The museum itself had lots of retro and neon signs, showing the fun of this decade. I loved the cars with tails, and some of the classic shapes. The cars are very well looked after and polished within an inch of their lives, so much so every photo I took has lots of glare in it. There was some creepy waxworks dotted around, my favourite being a plastic dalmatian placed so it was driving a fire truck? and a sad and creepy brilliant white children’s hurst. One of the best bits was a mock up of a 1950’s drive through complete with working juke box playing out ‘rock around the clock’ several times. This was a little maddening but its the kind of song that just makes you want to dance – well at least the three times I heard it. I enjoyed seeing pictures from this hot spot and wondered what had happened to this iconic establishment. Turns out it still exists! I know, I was pretty excited about this and we vesited Bonny Doon! an actual 1950’s drive through – more about this soon.