40-Foot Studebaker President: The World’s Biggest Passenger Car
Few companies escaped the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that plunged the United States and much of the western world into an abyss of economic recession. One of the worst hit was the automobile industry—because obviously it was hard to sell cars to people who were out of work.
Prior to the market crash, sales had been booming for the American automobile manufacturer, Studebaker. The company was comfortably placed with three large plants spread over 225 acres manufacturing more than 180,000 cars per year. When the Great Depression hit, Studebaker, like many other companies responded by reducing the scale of their operations and laying off their workers.
In 1931, in order to promote sales, the company constructed a huge wooden replica of the President—two and a half times larger than its production counterpart. The model measured over forty feet long and fourteen feet tall. It weighed over 5.5 tons and had a body constructed of white pine. The wheels, supplied by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, measured seven foot across.
Unfortunately, few measures where taken to protect the all-wood construction from the ravages of the harsh winter. The car survived until the spring of 1936, when the company decided to burn it to the ground because it was in such a sorry state.