In the mid-1920s, Studebaker began renaming its vehicles. The model previously known as the Studebaker Standard Six became the Dictator during the 1927 model year—internally designated model GE. The name was intended to connote that the model "dictated the standard" that other automobile makes would be obliged to follow.
The Dictator was Studebaker's lowest-price model, followed (in ascending order) by the Studebaker Commander and Studebaker President series. There was a Chancellor in 1927, too, but that year only.:p239 In June 1929, Studebaker began offering an 8-cylinder engine for the Dictator series (221 cubic inches, 70 bhp at 3,200 rpm), designed by Barney Roos, though the old 6-cylinder option was continued for another year.:p239 Dictators were available in a full range of body-styles.
Consequences of the Dictator name
In retrospect, the choice of the model name might seem unfortunate. Benjamin L. Alpers begins his history of American perceptions of dictators, Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s, with the introduction of the Studebaker Dictator: "There were, of course, some political problems connected with the name 'Dictator'. A number of the European monarchies to which Studebaker exported the car were wary of the moniker. Diplomatically, Studebaker marketed its Standard Six as the 'Director' in these countries. In the United States, apparently, the name appears initially to have caused no problems."
At the time, the only dictator that would have immediately come to an American mind was Benito Mussolini, whose popular image was one of audacity and strength, in spite of well-publicized fascist violence. However the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany tainted the word dictator. Studebaker abruptly discontinued the name 'Dictator' in 1937, resurrecting the Commander name which had been dropped in 1935. At that time, Raymond Loewy and Helen Dryden were working on new concepts for body design and customer appeal.
- Hendry, Maurice M. Studebaker: One can do a lot of remembering in South Bend. New Albany: Automobile Quarterly. pp. 228–275. Vol X, 3rd Q, 1972.
- Alpers, Benjamin L., (2003). Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2750-9.
- Maloney, James H. (1994). Studebaker Cars. Crestline Books. ISBN 0-87938-884-6.
- Langworth, Richard (1979). Studebaker, the Postwar Years. Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-87938-058-6.
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.