Studebaker Champion

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Studebaker Champion
Studebaker Champion, Dutch licence registration AM-41-52 pic09.JPG
1954 4-door sedan
Manufacturer Studebaker
Production 1939-1958
Assembly South Bend, Indiana
Vernon, California
Australia [1]
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door sedan
4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Successor Studebaker Lark

The Studebaker Champion is an automobile which was produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana from the beginning of the 1939 model year until 1958.


The success of the Champion in 1939 was imperative to Studebaker’s survival following weak sales during the 1938 model year. Unlike most other cars, the Champion was designed from a "clean sheet", and had no restrictions caused by necessarily utilizing older parts or requiring the subsequent use of its components in heavier vehicles. Market research guided the selection of features, but a key principle adhered to was the engineering watchword "weight is the enemy." For its size, it was one of the lightest cars of its era. Its compact straight-6 engine outlasted the model itself and was produced to the end of the 1964 model year, with a change to an OHV design in 1961.

The Champion was one of Studebaker's best-selling models because of its low price (US$660 for the two-door business coupe in 1939), durable engine, and styling. The car's ponton styling was authored by industrial designer Raymond Loewy who had been under contract with Studebaker for the design of their automobiles. Champions won Mobilgas economy runs by posting the highest gas mileage tests. During World War II, Champions were coveted for their high mileage at a time when gas was rationed in the United States. From 1943-1945, the Champion engine was used as the powerplant for the Studebaker M29 Weasel personnel and cargo carrier, which also used four sets of the Champion's leaf springs arranged transversely for its bogie suspension.

The Champion was phased out in 1958 in preparation for the introduction of the 1959 Studebaker Lark. Prior to this, Studebaker had been placed under receivership, and the company was attempting to return to a profitable position.

First generation[edit]

First generation
Studebaker Champion 1939 BW.JPG
1939 Series G 4-Door Sedan
Production 1939-1941
Layout FR layout
Engine 164.3 cu in (2.7 L) I6
Length 188.75 in (4,794 mm)[2]

The Champion came out in 1939. Deluxe models came with arm rests and dual wipers. The 164.3 cu in (2.7 L) I6 engine produced 78 horsepower (58 kW; 79 PS). In 1940, Studebaker claimed 27.25 mpg-US (8.63 L/100 km; 32.73 mpg-imp).[2] In 1941, the bodies were given a more streamlined look.

1940 Business Coupe
1941 4-door sedan
1941 2-door sedan

Second generation[edit]

Second generation
Flickr - DVS1mn - 46 Studebaker Skyway Champion (1).jpg
1946 Skyway 4-door sedan
Production 1942-1946
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door sedan [3]
4-door sedan [3]
2-door coupé [3]
Wheelbase 110 in (2,794 mm)
Length 193 in (4,902 mm)

In 1946, Studebaker built a limited number of cars based on their 1942 body shell in preparation for its new body and design roll out in 1947. All Studebakers built in 1946 were designated Skyway Champion models. Only the Champion series was produced, it being the most popular before the war.[4]

1942 4-door sedan
1946 Skyway 4-door sedan

Third Generation[edit]

Third generation
1950 Convertible
Production 1947-1952
Engine 169.9 cu in (2.8 L) I6
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm)[4]
Length 1947: 192 in (4,877 mm)
1950: 197.3 in (5,011 mm)

In 1947, Studebaker completely redesigned the Champion and the Commander, making them the first new cars after World War II.[4][5] The cars has new styling(rear window, flat front fenders,etc,)and new mechanics, like back light illumination for gauges and automatic courtesy lights.[6] The Champion made up 65.08% of the total sales for the automaker in 1947. The 169.9 cu in (2.8 L) I6 engine produced 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) in 1947.

In 1950, output was increased to 85 hp (63 kW; 86 PS).[4] Also, new styling (new grill, sheet metal, and rear end) was introduces, and an automatic transmission (which cost $201).[7]

One of the new styling features on the cars was the wraparound, "green-house" rear window that was on two-door cars from 1947–1951, at first just an option, in 1950 it was given its own trim line, the Starlight coupe.[4] The "spinner" grill was introduced in 1950, similar to that of a Ford Deluxe,[8] but was dropped again for the 1952 model year.

1947 Business Coupe
1949 Regal Deluxe 4-door sedan
1949 straight-six engine
1951 Starlight coupe

Fourth generation[edit]

Fourth generation
1954 Regal Starliner hardtop coupe
Production 1953-1956
Engine 169.6 cu in (2,779 cc) L-head I6[9]
185.6 cu in (3,041 cc) L-head I6[10]
Wheelbase coupes & hardtops: 120.5 in (3,061 mm)
sedans: 116.5 in (2,959 mm)[4]
Length coupes & hardtops: 202.2 in (5,136 mm)
sedans: 198.6 in (5,044 mm)
Width coupes & hardtops: 71 in (1,803 mm)
sedans: 69.5 in (1,765 mm)

In 1953, Studebaker was redesigned by Robert Bourke, from Raymond Loewy's design studio. The two-door coupe with a central pillar was called the "Starlight." while the more expensive hardtop coupe was called the "Starliner." The front end of the new Studebaker was lower than contemporaries. No convertible was offered in 1953. In 1954, a new two-door station wagon called the "Conestoga" was added to the Champion line.[11] Power of the L-head inline-six remained unchanged at 85 hp (63 kW), although in 1955 this was replaced by a larger version with 101 hp (75 kW). Also for 1955 the Starlight/Starliner labels were dropped and a wraparound windshield was introduced.[9] The 1956 Champion sedans received very different bodywork, with pronounced "eyebrows" over the headlights and large tailfins. The coupes received the new Hawk style bodywork with a centrally placed square grille reminiscent of a period Mercedes-Benz.[10]

1953 Starlight coupe
1954 4-door sedan
1954 Conestoga Station Wagon
1956 4-door sedan

Fifth generation[edit]

Fifth generation
1957 Studebaker Champion (4619419017).jpg
1957 Champion 4-door sedan
Production 1957-1958
Engine 185 cu in (3.0 L) L-head I6
289 cu in (4.7 L) OHV V8
Wheelbase sedans & wagons: 116.5 in (2,959 mm)
Length sedans & wagons: 202.4 in (5,141 mm)
Width sedans & wagons: 75.8 in (1,925 mm)

In 1957, the Champion Scotsman, a stripped down Champion, was introduced by Studebaker in an attempt to compete with the “Big Three” (i.e. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) and Nash in the low-price field. Shortly after its introduction, the model was renamed Studebaker Scotsman.

Two engines were available, a 185 cu in (3.0 L) 101 hp (75 kW; 102 PS) "Sweepstakes" L-head I6, or a 289 cu in (4.7 L)210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) "Sweepstakes" OHV V8.[4]

1957 Scotsman by Studebaker
1958 Champion 4-door sedan
1958 Champion 4 Door Sedan


  1. ^ Farmer, Gavin (2010). Great Ideas in Motion, A History of Chrysler in Australia. Ilinga Books. p. 405. ISBN 9780980522914. 
  2. ^ a b Dusan Ristic-Petrovic. "1940 Studebaker Brochure". p. 9. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b c 1946 Studebaker, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 764
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  5. ^ "1947 Studebaker album". p. 3. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  6. ^ Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  7. ^ Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  8. ^ "America on the Move - Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe". 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  9. ^ a b Kowalke, Ron, ed. (1999). Standard Catalog of Independents: The Struggle to Survive Among Giants. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 324. ISBN 0-87341-569-8. 
  10. ^ a b Kowalke, p. 326
  11. ^ Kowalke, p. 323