The Studebaker name today is matter of history. However, followers of the line are avid lovers and owners of these unique stylish cars. The car here today is a very rare 1952 model, a Studebaker Commander State Convertible coupe, the final year of this body style before the change in 1953 to the more swooping body style that became extremely popular with custom car builders across North America.
This stunner sits on a 115 inch wheelbase and an overall length of a mere 197.5 inches (okay, not so mere she is 16 or so feet is pretty big actually!). Power comes from a 232 cid V8 engine making 120 BHP moving the 3230 lb car. An automatic 3 speed transmission smoothly does the shift duties.
Studebaker’s of the day were known for excellent gas mileage and the Commander was capable of getting 25.6 miles per gallon. Not bad even by some cars today standards with so called modern engines that are supposed to be fuel efficient design. Of course, the low horsepower of the car did hinder sales for some as more was expected than the Studebaker provided. As always, fuel efficiency is a balancing act between power and economy, with power usually losing out.
Suspension and brakes were state of the art for the day as well, with coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The Commanders drove really smoothly and comfortably on the roads.
This car features many of the goodies of the day, including full gauges, clock, radio, etc… everything you would expect from an upscale top of the line car from any manufacturer in 1952. The interiors were plush with colorful leather bench seats and dash color keyed to the body color. The obligatory huge steering wheel did the steering transmission from driver to the wheels.
You of course can’t talk about this car without becoming overwhelmed by its inspired body lines. Upon first glance you don’t really get a feel for how gorgeous this car is and the many details that then start to pop out at you. From the front the big toothy chrome bumper/grille grabs you the most. Then the hood ornament and fender ornaments add a nice touch to the look. Along the sides chrome is kept to a minimum, instead allowing you to follow the smooth lines. The rear quarter panels bulge out at the wheels with forward chrome pieces emphasizing them. Getting to the rear the car deck lid slopes down toward the bumper which is a big chrome piece similar to the front. Bullet shaped taillights finish the rear off. The Commander was truly a work of art.
1952 Studebaker total production figures reached 167,662 cars. The Commander featured in this story is a concours queen fully restored to its natural beauty. It is difficult to estimate the value of this car however at auction it would likely go for $40-60,000, perhaps higher. The next year of Commander jumps to a much higher value in the $100,000 range being a much more popular collector body style. I do like this year of car as it really shows the early 1950’s car makers vision of style and futuristic design. Happy Hunting!
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