Pick of the Day: 1949 Studebaker Champion coupe

The 1949 Studebaker Champion wears the distinctive wraparound rear window
The 1949 Studebaker Champion wears the distinctive wraparound rear window

The original “push-me-pull-you” Studebaker coupe had car buyers scratching their heads when the wraparound rear window appeared in 1947 as a styling option. The common observation: you couldn’t tell whether it was going forward or backward.

By the time the Pick of the Day, a 1949 Studebaker Champion, came along, folks were accustomed to the unique backlight, and rear-seat riders appreciated the light and airy effect. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1952 Studebaker S2

Truck still bears door logos from its role in 2001 movie
Truck still bears door logos from its role in 2001 movie

What do Johnny Depp, Ray Liotta and a 1952 Studebaker S2 pickup truck have in common? According to the person selling this particular ’52 Studie, it was driven by Liotta when he played Depp’s father in the 2001 movie, Blow. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk

This gem of a Studebaker Golden Hawk makes the 1950s look alive
This gem of a Studebaker Golden Hawk makes the 1950s look alive

The Studebaker Golden Hawk was the original performance car for the South Bend, Indiana, automaker, the most muscular version of the regular hardtop that was developed from the sleek 1953 Starliner coupe created by the great industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Continue reading

Pick of the Week: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1

 The styling for the 1963 Studebaker Avanti was striking but controversial

The styling for the 1963 Studebaker Avanti was striking but controversial

One of the most unusual standout designs during the early 1960s was that of the Studebaker Avanti, a “personal luxury” coupe that debuted in April 1962. Created by a team assembled by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the fiberglass-bodied Avanti was true to its name as an avant garde original.

As usual, Studebaker was ahead of the styling curve and the Avanti became something of a “love it or loathe it” piece of automotive quirkiness. The timing was not great, as the Avanti appeared on the scene at the same time as another fiberglass original, the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which stole much of the popular thunder.

Today’s Pick of the Week is an apparently restored 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1 being sold by a private owner in San Diego. Although appreciated as collector cars, Avantis have never commanded big-dollar sales, and this one is offered at what seems like a bargain price of $25,000 or best offer.

The Avanti’s interior looks immaculate
The Avanti’s interior looks immaculate

The seller’s description is brief and lacking in details, but the car is described as Avanti Red in color with a black vinyl interior, air conditioning, electric windows and other convenience features.

The photos show what appears to be an original Studebaker 289 V8 engine, coupled with an automatic transmission and Twin Traction limited-slip rear. The photos of the interior are very impressive.

This was the original year of the Avanti, when they really looked their best. I particularly like the piece of mid-century chrome flair on the hood, which became a signature styling cue.

Although a handsome Studebaker Avanti would make a good Pick of the Week any time, it’s also a nod to this week’s ClassicCars.com poll results, which found that most people would choose Studebaker as the defunct automaker they would most like to see come back to life.

My Classic Car: Jonathan’s 1951 Studebaker

Childhood memories led to buying this car | Jonathan Cox photo
Childhood memories led to buying this car | Jonathan Cox photo

I was 9 years old in 1951. My aunt and uncle owned a new ’51 Studebaker and they reluctantly let me drive it on the farm. I promptly drove it into the creek and it had to be pulled out with the tractor.

It was 8 years later before my folks let me drive again.

A while ago, I saw this ’51 Studebaker Champion Deluxe Starlight coupe and it brought back all those memories.

I bought the car on the spot.

— Jonathan Cox, Ocean Park WA

Pick of the Week: Studebaker Commander convertible

The ‘bullet-nose’ styling of the 1950-51 Studebakers is credited to designer Robert Bourke
The ‘bullet-nose’ styling of the 1950-51 Studebakers is credited to designer Robert Bourke.

Many of the world’s most forward-looking designs are controversial. Case in point: Studebaker’s futuristic 1950-51 models with their rocketship front ends and, in the coupe models, wraparound rear glass.

Love them or hate them, those Studebakers today are popular collector’s items, as well as enduring subjects for exotic street rods.

Listed on ClassicCars.com is one of the coolest of the breed, a 1951 Studebaker convertible in what appears to be  immaculate stock condition. The paint looks shiny and flawless in the photos, and the interior is bright red. Pictures on the seller’s website show a clean engine bay, and the fabric top also looks to be in good condition.

The Studebaker is a stunning top-down cruiser
The Studebaker convertible looks stunning with its top down.

The seller, Cruising Classics of Columbus, Ohio, describes the car as a “beautiful example of American automotive history in the form of a stunning 1951 Studebaker ‘Bullet Nose’ Commander convertible.”

The convertible “runs and drive excellent,” the seller says, and is powered by its original 232cid V8 and three-speed manual transmission. “This hard-to-find classic is in excellent condition throughout including a very solid rust-free undercarriage.”

Maybe not as evocative as the Starlight Coupe with its unique four-piece curving rear greenhouse, the convertible has the distinct advantage of a top that goes down. This would be such an attention-getting cruiser wherever you drove it

My Classic Car: Carey Hill’s 1963 Studebaker Lark

Carey Hill has owned this 1963 Studebaker Lark since 1972 | Carey Hill photos
Carey Hill has owned this 1963 Studebaker Lark since 1972 | Carey Hill photos

My father worked for the local Studebaker agents in New Plymouth, New Zealand. One of the Studebakers we used to see in to the workshop from time to time was a 1963 Studebaker Lark that belonged to a local farming family, the Abrahams. They had bought it new and lived right up high above New Plymouth city on the slopes of Mt .Taranaki — a near perfect cone volcano (dormant) behind the city.

In 1972, the Abraham family traded the Studebaker in on a new Mazda Capella RX2 rotary-engine saloon and the Studebaker, with 52,000 miles on the clock, was for sale in the dealership used car lot.

And so, in 1972, at the tender age of 16 years, I became the second owner of this Studebaker Lark.

At the recent Americarna weekend
At the recent Americarna weekend

Turn the clock to 2014 and the Studebaker still takes pride of place in our family fleet of cars, which includes a Mazda Miata, Nissan Maxima and Ford Mustang convertible.

The Studebaker remains a fast and comfortable cruiser with its 289cid V8 and a four-speed gearbox.

Studebakers in New Zealand were assembled with right-hand drive. The cars were sent here in what was called CKD — completed knocked down — kits, which means they arrived in parts and had to be assembled. In 1963, about 96 Studebakers were sent here for local assembly.

The original Studebaker overdrive gearbox proved a little light back in the ‘70s when I was street racing everyone. I replaced it with a Ford gearbox.

The engine was fully reconditioned a few years ago with all the reciprocating parts fully balanced — a hot camshaft sourced and fitted with a new Edelbrock four-barrel carb and manifold. Dual exhausts feature Forza-flow mufflers. She is loud and a strong performer.

When needed, parts for the car are sourced from studebakerparts.com.

1986 Ford Mustang is a work in progress
1986 Ford Mustang is a work in progress

P.S. The 1986 Mustang is a recent purchase and a running project car. It was imported second-hand from California to New Zealand in 2008 by another enthusiast but the restoration never progressed. Rock Auto in the U.S. has been brilliant supplying the needed parts.

Oh, and the Nash Metropolitan has been in the family since 1973. It was found crashed in a wrecking yard, purchased for $70 and rebuilt.

Avanti drivers meet for Winterfest in Florida

An original Studebaker publicity photo introducing the 1963 Avanti.
An original Studebaker publicity photo introducing the 1963 Avanti.

The sporty Studebaker Avanti, a radically styled fiberglass coupe created by a design team led by the celebrated Raymond Loewy, is today considered the last hurrah of the South Bend, Indiana, automaker that traced its roots back to covered wagons of the 19th century.

Introduced to wide acclaim in 1963, the Avanti lived on even after Studebaker’s demise, resurrected several times through 2007 and gaining collector-car status among a legion of fans.

Avanti enthusiasts come together in Gainesville, Fla., from February 6-9 for the annual Avanti Winterfest, a celebration that also marks the 20th anniversary of the Avanti Club of Florida. The event will be highlighted by an all-Avanti car show on Saturday, February 8, at the Best Western Plus Gateway Grand in Gainesville.

Winterfest, which recognizes Avantis from every manufacturer including the defunct Avanti Motor Corporation, will host a number of tours for Avanti drivers, including a visit to the Studebaker collection of Steven Cade, a “spouses’ tour” to the historic town of Micanopy and a Sunday lunch tour to High Springs, Fla. A special seminar features a professor from University of Florida who will focus on Loewy and his influence on design.

The public is invited to attend the car show in Gainesville on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. For more information, send email to tompinnel@yahoo.com.

Vehicle Profile: 1952 Studebaker Champion

1952 Studebaker

It’s quite a shame that one of the oldest automobile manufacturers (at the time of their demise) couldn’t have withstood the stiff competition of the day, because many believe they would have been an interesting addition to the future of the motoring world. The “Studebaker Automobile Company” (originally called the “Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company”) began existence in 1852 as a company which produced high-quality wagons and carts which became known as one of the heartiest, innovative and well-made variety of wagons to ever roam the wide-open lands.

Oddly enough, the first automobiles produced by Studebaker Motor Company were of the electric variety and made their debut in 1902. Their first gasoline driven cars were produced in 1904, with some components purchased from various other suppliers, while the first completely proprietary “Studebaker’s” came off the assembly line in South Bend, Indiana in the year 1912. The next 50 years (right up to and including their 100th anniversary) would prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Studebaker automobiles were not only innovative and sometimes years ahead of the competition, but very well built and completely reliable vehicles. Due to internal issues, some management blunders and the stiff competition of the day, Studebaker, like many other venerable marques over the years, would disappear by 1966.

For their 100th Anniversary in 1952, Studebaker Automobile Company planned to build a totally new vehicle, but due to complications and time constraints, some of which stemmed from the end of WWII and the more current Korean conflict, they settled instead for a facelift of the current models they offered since 1947. The striking looks of the bullet-nosed (or torpedo) designed front end was massaged into a more smooth-looking “clamdigger” design with a lower profile and six-toothed grille. The rear end kept the unique wrap-around or starlight glass effect (which is also the last year this design was used) and boat-tail rear trunk styling while the interior was updated, but most other areas of the 100th anniversary vehicles were left as they had been since the late forties. Studebakers came standard with their venerable in-line, six-cylinder engine with an optional small-block V8 offered and standard manual-transmission with an optional automatic transmission.

Find a classic Studebaker that you love!