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Thursday, June 22, 2023

The scarce and forgotten Studebaker Champion lines

Unique ONES - In the past, if we look at the design of cars, especially those produced in the 1950s to 1960s, we could be seen there're many inspired by the world of aviation and space exploration. And of the many cars from that era, one of them was the Studebaker Champion which featured what was touted as a future design at the time.
The 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlite Coupe (3rd Generation). (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
The history of this model dates back to 1939, when the defunct American car brand Studebaker presented its new mid-range model, the Studebaker Champion. For the company, this car model was very important, because in a relatively short time it was proven to be successful in sales, so that it was able to expel the company, which at that time was experiencing serious financial problems.
The 1939 Studebaker Champion Series G 4-Door Sedan (1st Generation). (Picture from: Wikipedia)
There are many unique things that started the development of the Studebaker Champion. Unlike other models, the development of the Champion started from a blank sheet of paper, that is, without specifying the technical components of the larger model series. One of the most important goals in the developer's specification is to reduce weight. Ultimately, the Studebaker Champion is the lightest car in its class. Also new was the tappet-driven inline six-cylinder engine, which Studebaker kept with only a few changes until the car's end of production in 1961.
The M29 Weasel personnel carrier is a World War II tracked vehicle of the US Army, built by Studebaker with the Champion's engine and leaf springs. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
So, this Studebaker Champion was produced from 1939 to 1961 which consisted of 5 generations. As quoted from Wikipedia, this car was produced based on a design made by Raymond Loewy, a French automotive designer who has been a consultant for the American automaker Studebaker since 1938. 
The 1946 Studebaker Champion Skyway Cruising Sedan (2nd Generation). (Picture from: Flickr)
Initially the design made by Loewy was considered radical to be applied to car models at that time, so that it was almost pushed aside by the design proposed by Virgil Exner who was then serving as Studebaker's Chief Designer. It is known that Exner also proposed a design that was quite surprising to Studebaker top-brass at the time. However, after going through a long debate, finally Loewy's design which applied ultra-modern but simple lines was chosen, and then poured into design drawings by Robert E. Bourke.
The 1954 Studebaker Champion Regal Starliner (4th Generation). (Picture from: Wikipedia)
Unfortunately, even though it has a distinctive shape that resembles a 'propeller' on its nose, the Champion doesn't even fly. Powered by an S6 engine with a capacity of 170 cubic inches (2,786 cc), which is only capable of producing around 85 bhp/63 KW of power at 4,000 rpm. This makes it seem as if the Champion is teetering in the car market.
The 1957 Studebaker Champion DeLuxe 4-Door Sedan (5th Generation). (Picture from: Wikipedia)
Even so, from a technical point of view and driving comfort, the Studebaker Champion deserves a thumbs up, especially the handling, where the Champion can be turned more easily, because it has a capable 'A-Double' arm and coil spring suspension for the front wheels which have been embedded with anti-skid dampers.
Rear three-quarter view of  the 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlite Coupe (3rd Generation). (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
In 1942, the second generation still debuted with the Raymond Loewy design, but production had to stop between 1943 and 1945, while the Champion's engine and leaf springs were used in the M29 Weasel personnel carrier of the American military. After the 2nd World War, the pre-war design and platform were retained, but Loewy, together with Virgil Exner, designed a new body for 1947.
Interior view of  the 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlite Coupe (3rd Generation). (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
For the 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe also offered an automatic transmission system, which was developed in collaboration with BorgWarner. This system offers direct anti-skid steering torque shifting, which is useful for avoiding the car and the driver from the bad consequences of an accident.
The 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlite Coupe (3rd Generation) is powered by an S6 engine with a capacity of 170 cubic inches (2,786 cc), which is only capable of producing around 85 bhp/63 KW of power at 4,000 rpm. (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
This was the first new American car design of the post war period, which allowed Studebaker to beat the 'American big-three' (Chrysler, GM and Ford). Price, equipment, low consumption and reliability quickly made these vehicles popular with customers. Unfortunately, a newly developed successor model did not appear until 1953.
A total of 343,164 units of the Studebaker Champion including the Starlite Coupe were successfully sold during its production period, with a tag of $1,500 to $2,500 (approximately Rp.20 million to Rp.30 million) at that time. However, as time goes by, Studebaker was finally unable to compete with the other automotive manufacturers in Detroit which were again controlled by the American big-three automakers trio. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | WIKIPEDIA | SECRET-CLASSIC ]
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