In the February, 1990 issue of Turning Wheels Feature Editor, Fred K. Fox provided a little background on the word wheelcover. Fred noted that the double word "wheel cover" was used in a sales flyer sent to him by Studebaker Drivers Club member, Terry Judd. He noted that the company, Lyon Inc., which manufactured the wheelcover and issued the flyer, stamped the one word "WHEELCOVER" on many of its covers. That same issue carried a letter by Gordon Mills who stated: "I believe the name "wheelcover" originated with the Lyon company in the middle 1940's..."
One prototype and three production wheelcovers were associated with
1956 Golden Hawks. The Chassis Parts Catalog refers to these wheelcovers
as "CAP & DISC, hub" and follows each listing with a more definitive
description. Their South Bend and Los Angeles (Vernon) accessory codes
and the wheelcover descriptions are listed below:
|AC-2425||63||Wire Wheel (Speedster)|
|AC-2738||62||Full Disc (Standard)|
|AC-2780||??||Wire Wheel Overlay (Prototype)|
|AC-2799||81||Spoke Type (Mid year)|
Since Studebaker assigned their accessory codes (AC-nnnn) in sequence, it would follow that the prototype wheelcover was being considered after the standard wheelcover was developed and prior to the introduction of the spoke type.
The Los Angeles accessory codes were supplied by Turning Wheels Almanac Editor, Richard Quinn. It is interesting that the Los Angeles codes for the first two wheelcovers are not in sequence. The earlier wire wheel type is code 63 while the later standard disc is code 62.
Thanks to Dennis Lambert and Newman & Altman, I had the opportunity to review the production orders for 1956 Golden Hawks in the fall of 1993. That review provided some interesting results.
WIRE WHEEL (AC-2425)
The wire wheel option AC-2425 had been available since 1953 and was standard equipment on the 1955 Speedster. Many people, in fact, refer to it as the "Speedster Wheelcover". Sometime in late 1955 or early 1956, production on this wheelcover was discontinued and this option ceased to be available. An article by Frank Peerman on page 4 of the Spring, 1975 issue of The Southeastern Wheel, suggested that the supplier, from Detroit, went out of business.
A letter appearing in the February, 1990 issue of Turning Wheels by Studebaker Drivers Club member, Terry Judd, indicated that this was not the case. Terry, who would later serve as the SDC President (1991-1993), stated that the wheelcover supplier was called Lyon Inc., and was located on Chicago Boulevard in Detroit.
Terry goes on to say that Lyon Inc., was founded by his grandfather, George A. Lyon. He adds that the firm was family owned until 1967 when it was sold to Rockwell-Standard. That being the case, the company did not go out of business in 1955, so the reason for the demise of the wire wheel Speedster wheelcover remains a mystery.
Regarding the Speedster wire wheel wheelcover, Terry writes: "Lyon also made the wire wheel covers used on the Speedster. As a matter of fact, if you look on the side of the inner rim of these wheel covers, you'll see the name "Lyon" stamped in the metal. By the way, the concept and design for the wire wheel cover was developed by my grandfather. Lyon Inc. also made most of the small hub caps used by car companies."
The wire wheel AC-2425 wheelcover appeared on 43 production orders for South Bend produced 1956 Golden Hawks. This total includes 7 cars which had the AC-2780 prototype option crossed out and replaced by AC-2425. The South Bend production orders with the wire wheel option had Final Assembly Dates ranging from November 2, 1955 to December 20, 1955. The range of serial numbers ran from 6030049 through 6030930.
On Los Angeles assembled 1956 Golden Hawks, this code (63) appeared on 55 production orders for a combined total of only 98 cars. The Los Angeles production orders with the wire wheel option ranged from 6800185 through 6800419 and covered the dates from December 14, 1955 to March 6, 1956.
The production order for the last South Bend car, serial # 6030930, was assembled a full 10 days after the 2nd to last South Bend car. Curiously, it was also the only South Bend production order to have a later final assembly date (12-20-55) than the first Los Angeles production order date (serial # 6800185, dated 12-14-55).
It is almost as though the supply of AC-2425 wheelcovers ran out in mid December, 1955 and all the remaining AC-2425 wheelcovers were shipped from South Bend to Los Angeles for their use.
No matter what went on at that time, the result is that this option actually appeared on more Los Angeles production orders (57 out of 601) than it did on those from South Bend (46 out of 3472).
Although this wheelcover is quite popular today, it is interesting to note that the 103 total, represents only 2.5% of 1956 Golden Hawk production (4073 units). It is quite possible that more 1956 Golden Hawks exist today with the AC-2425 wire wheel option than were delivered new.
STANDARD WHEELCOVER (AC-2738)
Wheelcover, AC-2738 was standard equipment on all 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawks and featured the Studebaker shield emblem in the center. This cover was only used during the 1956 model year. A slightly different version of this cover was introduced for 1957 as accessory code AC-2841.
Although this was the standard wheelcover, many production orders had
no wheelcover option of any kind. This was especially true, but not in
every case, of those cars which were destined for export, including Canada.
WIRE WHEEL OVERLAY (AC-2780)
According to an article by Feature Editor Fred K. Fox in the April, 1985 issue of Turning Wheels, AC-2780 was a prototype only, and never made it into production. The prototype was most likely being considered as a replacement for the wire wheel, AC-2425 which ceased to be available.
Although listed as a prototype, the wire wheel overlay option AC-2780 did appear on 225 production orders for 1956 Golden Hawks. The option was crossed out however on 141 of those 225 production orders. Seven of the production orders had the AC-2780 option crossed out and replaced by the wire wheel option AC-2425. An additional 134 production orders had the AC-2780 option crossed out and replaced by the standard wheelcover option AC-2738.
Still, a total of 84 production orders for 1956 Golden Hawk cars had the prototype AC-2780 option listed including the first two "show cars", serial #s 6030001-6030002. These cars filled the production range from 6030001 to 6030784 and their Final Assembly Dates ran from September 23, 1955 through December 13, 1955.
Assuming the prototype was intended to replace the wire wheel, there may be some significance in that the "life span" of the prototype and the wire wheel ran concurrently. The "death" of the prototype (December 13, 1955) and the "last breath" of the wire wheel (December 20, 1955) occurred only one week apart.
All the above information on the prototype wheelcover pertains to 1956 Golden Hawks produced in South Bend. As stated earlier, a different accessory code identification was used on production orders for Los Angeles assembled 1956 Golden Hawks. I could not find anything to suggest that the AC-2780 option had a Los Angeles coded counterpart.
Even though this option appeared on 84 production orders, there is no evidence that the wheelcover was ever put into production. It is not listed in the "Parts Catalog" for 1956, which does include the later AC-2799 spoke type, and I have not seen it listed in any accessory catalog. It does appear on a few factory photos however and the 84 total is only 19 less than the number of wire wheel Speedster wheelcover AC-2425 option appearing on the production orders for 1956 Golden Hawks.
There are a couple of possibilities as to which wheelcover was actually used on these cars. It is certainly conceivable that there was some confusion surrounding the prototype and the wire wheel (AC-2425) wheelcovers. The result could be that all the cars listed with the prototype actually were equipped with the wire wheel option instead.
The wire wheel overlay actually appears to be an overlay which was mounted on top of the standard AC-2738 wheelcover. If so, it is then possible that the overlay was simply not added, and the car then came equipped with the standard wheelcover. Unless some new documentation turns up, that is something we will probably never know.
SPOKE TYPE (AC-2799)
Thanks to Richard Quinn, I have learned that the Spoke Type wheelcover, AC-2799 was introduced via Sales Letter No. 63 on February 7, 1956. This Sales Letter also indicates that "Effective with the release of these spoke type discs, wire wheel discs (AC 2425) will no longer be available as a factory installation." The letter gives no indication as to the reason.
Studebaker also supplied a Factory Dealer Announcement dated February 21, 1956 coded by the factory as "S84 (2-21-56)" which introduced the new Spoke Type wheel disc. Strangely, this announcement authorized the use of the new disc for all cars dating back to 1953. This was most certainly a gimmick by Studebaker to sell more wheel discs. I assume they justified their action because the spoke type wheelcover was most likely meant to replace the wire wheel wheelcover which, as stated previously, had been available since 1953.
Whatever Studebaker's motive, I think most car restorers and hobbyists, feel that options which were not available at the time the car was produced are not authentic. Carrying that philosophy a step further, would a 1956 Golden Hawk produced before February 7, 1956, be considered authentic if it has the spoke type wheelcover? I'll leave that decision up to the purist.
The new spoke type wheelcover appeared on 208 of the South Bend production orders for 1956 Golden Hawks. The production range ran from 6031988 to 6033471 and covered the dates from February 16, 1956 to August 17, 1956.
An additional 27 Los Angeles 1956 Golden Hawk production orders featured the new spoke type wheelcover for a total of 235. The Los Angeles production ran from 6800433 to 6800598 and covered the dates from March 09, 1956 to June 1, 1956.
As is the case with the wire wheel option AC-2425, the optional spoke type wheelcovers are also very popular among 1956 Golden Hawk owners today. Their appearance on the production orders, however, is also a relatively low total comprising less than 5.8% of the 4073 total 1956 Golden Hawk production.
Sales Letter 63 stated, "When ordered from the factory for inclusion with cars, suggested retail price for a set of four (4) discs is $18.50 list, with a dealer net at $14.06." I have seen a few NOS sets for sale in excess of $400.00.
Although a bargain by today's standards, it appears that, few of the 1956 new car buyers were willing to lay out the additional cash for one of the optional wheelcovers. Even adding in the prototype Wire Wheel Overlay (AC-2780) which appeared on 2% of the production orders, the optional wheelcovers appeared on only 422 production orders. This amounts to slightly more than 10% of the production orders for 1956 Golden Hawks.
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