When you think of the early automobile, you likely picture Henry Ford, the Model T, and Detroit, but did you know that Indiana also played a prominent role in the early automobile industry?
Indiana was home to many manufacturers catering to wealthy customers who wanted fast and technologically advanced automobiles. Companies with names like Stutz, Cord, and Duesenberg launched elaborate advertising campaigns that played upon peoples’ desire to be seen as stylish.
They printed detailed catalogs and used advertising techniques which are still familiar to us today… equating car ownership with sex appeal, using celebrity endorsements, and constantly offering “new and improved” models to attract repeat buyers.
Unfortunately, catering only to the high-end market ultimately led to the downfall of automobile manufacturing in Indiana. Only Studebaker was able to make an effective transition to high-volume mass production and continued to produce cars in South Bend until 1963.
Today, only a few restored cars, period advertisements, and memories remain as reminders of Indiana’s early automotive heritage.