Founded in 1852, Studebaker initially focused on crafting wagons, carriages, and harnesses. However, the company made its foray into the automotive industry in 1902. Studebaker’s journey into the automobile business began with electric vehicles and later expanded to include gasoline-powered cars in 1904. By the time World War II emerged on the horizon, Studebaker had already earned a commendable reputation for its commitment to quality, durability, and overall reliability in the automotive realm.
Established in Indiana in 1852, Studebaker transitioned from manufacturing wagons, carriages, and harnesses to enter the automotive industry in 1902. Notably, they initially produced electric vehicles before introducing gasoline-powered cars in 1904. As World War II concluded, Studebaker gained recognition for its commitment to quality, durability, and reliability in the automotive world.
Studebaker marked a significant post-war milestone in 1947 with the introduction of the Starlight coupe. This innovative automobile, designed by Virgil Exner, left a lasting impact on the industry with its unique flat trunk lid and wraparound rear window. The year 1950 witnessed another design breakthrough when Studebaker unveiled the “bullet nose” styling, setting its cars apart and giving them a futuristic edge compared to their competitors.
Despite these creative triumphs, Studebaker faced severe financial challenges in the early 1950s, primarily due to a price war between Ford and GM. This struggle led to an unsuccessful merger with Packard and eventually the closure of the company in 1967.
Over 50 years later, certain Studebaker models like the Avanti and the Golden Hawk have garnered a devoted following, with some examples commanding significant prices. However, many other Studebaker nameplates have faded into obscurity. Commanders, Presidents, Champions, and Larks can often be found languishing in junkyards, a somber sight for passionate Studebaker enthusiasts.
Recently, YouTube’s “Vice Grip Garage” breathed new life into a 1948 Champion. This particular third-generation Studebaker, discovered in Illinois, had been in retirement since 1976. It spent a staggering 45 years tucked away in an old garage before the host acquired it. After sitting for 47 years without any gasoline, the dedicated restoration expert parked it in a field.
Despite the significant challenges of reviving a vehicle left dormant for nearly five decades, the old inline-six engine eventually roared back to life. Remarkably, this Champion retains its original engine. The third-gen full-size model, sold from 1947 to 1952, was equipped with a 170-cubic-inch (2.8-liter) straight-six engine. At its introduction, this powerplant produced 80 horsepower, a figure that increased to 85 horses in 1950. While these numbers may seem modest by today’s standards, they were more than adequate during the Champion’s heyday.
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This weathered green Champion, showcased in the video, is surprisingly well-preserved considering its age and period of inactivity. The body shows minimal signs of rust, and the interior, albeit showing some wear on the seats and door panels, remains in decent shape. While a complete restoration is needed for a like-new appearance, the car has the potential to become a remarkable survivor without extensive and expensive intervention. Witness the revival of this resilient classic in the video below.
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