The Studebaker brothers opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend in the winter of 1852. Other brothers soon joined the business which grew into the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing company. It became the largest producer of wagons and buggies in the world.
Studebaker got into the fledgling automobile business in 1902 with an electric model and in 1904 with their first gasoline powered car. Wagons, buggies and cars were manufactured until 1920 when horse drawn vehicle production stopped. Automobile manufacturing facilities transitioned from Detroit to South Bend over the next decade.
The museum pays homage to this family business through it's mission, which is "to honor and perpetuate the legacy of the rich industrial heritage of the South Bend area, through the display, interpretation, conservation and preservation of Studebaker vehicles, archives and other objects to enrich present and future generations."
Across the street from the museum is the Studebaker Museum Archives which house the surviving corporate archives of Studebaker and Packard; consisting of manuscripts, still and moving pictures, advertising materials, financial records, company publications and engineering/production records.
The automobile collection numbers over 120 vehicles with about 70 on display at a time. There are many that are kept in visible storage in the lower lever and some fascinating experimental models which are "one off" and not to be found anywhere else in the world. Two main showrooms on the ground and upper levels highlight many of the vehicles in unique diorama type settings and it is clear that while space it at a premium, much thought goes into the placement and display of these treasured vehicles.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 to 5:00 and Sunday noon to 5:00. Admission is $8.00, $6.50 for seniors over 60, $5.00 for students over 6 and children under 5 are free. It is located at 201 S. Chapin Street in South Bend, IN 46601 and you can call ahead for information at (888)-391-5600.