The Studebaker Sceptre was one of a cluster of cars proposed by the famed Milwaukee industrial designer Brooks Stevens in 1962-63 to replace the automaker’s aged product line. This one, the Sceptre, was presented to CEO Sherwood Egbert and company management in April of 1963 as a 1966 replacement for the Gran Turismo Hawk, which also happened to be a Brooks Stevens design. (Read about the GT Hawk here.)
Unfortunately, the Studebaker Corporation was broke and nearly out of options by the spring of ’63, and it would be forced to suspend its operations in the U.S. before the end of the year. For us, it’s a shame the Sceptre never went into production in South Bend. We don’t know if the striking sedan could have been a success, but it sure would have made an impression.
Stevens had the lone Sceptre prototype constructed by Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano of Turin, a little-known and short-lived (only five years, 1962-66) but highly regarded Italian coachbuilder that was also responsible for Virgil Exner’s stunning Mercer Cobra. Directed by Pietro Sibona, formerly of Ghia, and the brothers Elio and Emilio Basano, the company produced the beautifully detailed prototype on a Studebaker chassis for $16,000, a remarkable bargain in those days.
The automotive designs of Brooks Stevens could range from the basic to the baroque, observers have noted. We think the Sceptre is one of the cleanest and most elegant examples of the lot, with simple visual elements that cleverly complement each other. The distinctive front end featured an electric-razor grille with a Sylvania Light Bar system to illuminate the roadway.
The rear-end styling includes an ingenious and useful clamshell trunk opening, while the broad C pillars, with panels of polarizing glass, are a stylized representation of the formal roof Stevens used on the GT Hawk and his reskinned Brazilian Aero Willys. A Sylvania light bar is also used at the rear, but hidden behind a full-width ruby plastic lens.
The cabin, below, is modern and Italianate in form, with black and gold vinyl trim and a large, airy greenhouse flooded with light. The thermometer-type speedometer and instruments are housed in plastic pods in the top of the dash, while the passenger side features a large vanity area with folding mirror.
Although the Studebaker Corporation ultimately failed to survive, the last-gasp Spectre prototype has managed to stick around, fortunately. The car resided in the Brooks Stevens Automotive Museum in Mequon, Wisconsin for many years, and these days can be seen at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.