On today in 1931, Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame football coach and namesake of the Studebaker Rockne type of autos, is killed in a plane crash near Bazaar, Kansas, at age 43.
The roots of the Studebaker Corporation date back again to 1852, when siblings Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana. Studebaker eventually became a significant manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons and supplied the U.S. Army with wagons through the entire Civil War. Around the turn of the century, Studebaker joined America’s burgeoning auto industry, launching a power car in 1902 and a gas-powered car 2 yrs later that has been marketed under the name Studebaker-Garford. After partnering with other automakers, Studebaker started selling gas-powered cars below its personal name in 1913, although continuing to create wagons until 1920.
Born on March 4, 1888, in Voss, Norway, Knute Rockne moved to Chicago, Illinois, along with his family when he was 5. He attended the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, wherever he played football for the Fighting Irish and was a stellar student. From 1918 to 1930, the charismatic Rockne was head coach of the school’s football team, compiling an archive of 105 wins, 12 losses, 5 ties and 6 national championships. His players included the All-American George “Gipper” Gip (1895-1920), the inspiration for Rockne’s now-famous motivational line “Win one for the Gipper.” In the late 1920s, Studebaker, then your world’s 10th-biggest automaker, signed Rockne to provide motivational talks at auto conventions and dealership events.
After Rockne died on March 31, 1931, despite the fact that flying to Los Angeles to greatly help with the production of the movie “The Spirit of Notre Dame,” Studebaker made a decision to name its new type of low-priced cars immediately after the revered coach. The business decided to spend Rockne’s widow 25 cents for every car it sold. Studebaker continued to create some 38,000 Rocknes for the model years 1932 and 1933 however, at the right time, the auto market have been hobbled by the Great Depression and in March 1933, Studebaker, that was with debt heavily, was forced into receivership. The business pulled the plug on the Rockne line later that year.
Studebaker ultimately rebounded, but by the 1950s, the ongoing company, which merged with Packard in 1954, was again facing monetary troubles once. In December 1963, with the closure of its South Bend production plant, Studebaker quit constructing automobiles in the United States. The company’s Hamilton, Ontario, facilities remained functioning till March 1966, when Studebaker shut its doors for great following 114 years in organization.