By Frank Peiler
Studebaker introduced its Lark series of compact cars for 1959. Though fresh looking, the Lark wasn’t really as new as it seemed to be. Since Studebaker was strapped for cash, the company’s strategy with the Lark lineup was to update its six-year-old basic body structure with newly styled–and significantly shorter–front and rear sheetmetal.
This low-cost “compact-car” redesign was well timed, given the recession of 1958 and the subsequent shift in American car buyers’ preferences. The Lark sold well enough–at least at first–to save the struggling Studebaker company and keep them in business for a few more years.
So, what if General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler took the same path as Studebaker to create their own 1960 small cars? What if the Big Three had taken the cheap route and shortened the standard-sized Chevrolet Bel Air/Impala, Ford Galaxie/Fairlane and the Plymouth Fury/Belvedere? Here’s my take on how that might have turned out.
More chunky than compact, but still a smaller Chevy. The rear-mounted, air-cooled flat six would need to work hard to move this heavyweight small car.
Not quite as weird looking as the Corvair, but still too big to be a real compact. The two-door coupe uses the Ford Galaxie Starliner greenhouse, and the taillights are borrowed from the full-sized 1959 Fords.
What can I say about this car? The word “stubby” keeps coming to mind. This car shares many bits and pieces with the full-size Plymouth.