As far as we know, the only car named after a football coach is the Rockne. This nameplate honored Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne who was killed in an airplane crash in March 1931. Rockne worked part-time for Studebaker promoting sales and motivating Studebaker dealers.
Rockne Motors Corp. was set up as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Studebaker. The 1932 Rockne 6-75 was based on the Studebaker 6-54 and had a 114-in. wheelbase. It was built at the Studebaker plant in South Bend, Ind. The 1932 Rockne 6-65 was built in Detroit in a factory that previously made EMF automobiles, which were a part of the Studebaker family of cars years earlier.
The 1932 Rockne 6-65 had a smaller 110-inch wheelbase, and was a brand new car. Ralph Vail and Roy Cole designed the car for Willys-Overland, but the company was broke and released the design to Studebaker.
In 1933, the 6-65 became the Rockne 6-10 which had smaller wheels, a slightly longer body and different from fender contours. There was also a Rockne panel truck offered the same year. The Rockne 6-75 was carried over without change. Due to the Great Depression only a few hundred were produced.
The smaller Rocknes were offered in a full range of body styles and in open and closed body models. The larger Rocknes came only as coupes and sedans. All Rocknes cars could be either standard or deluxe and the latter cars had dual front fender-mounted spares.
Although the Rockne brand did not last very long, there was nothing wrong with the cars and they sold well for a new nameplate. The trouble came in when Studebaker encountered financial problems. The company entered receivership in March 1933. Production of the 6-10 was moved to South Bend, and the cars were then called Studebaker Rockne models.
Total production of Rocknes in 1932-1933 was 37,879, which consisted of 16,860 1932 “65” cars, 13,695 1933 Rockne 6-10s and and trucks. The six-cylinder engine developed specifically for the Rockne 6-65 was used in Studebakers for many years. It powered Studebaker Dictators and Commanders prior to World War II and postwar Commander cars and trucks through 1960.
The 1932 Rockne 6-65 featured in this article was at the Studebaker Drivers Club Zone Meet in Annadale, Minn, on July 17-18. It was a little too hot for football practice that weekend, but the winning spirit of Knute Rockne was present because the event attracted nearly 100 Studebaker “family” cars to the small Midwestern hamlet.