A Rare 1962 Studebaker Champ Pickup Truck

The truck featured in this article is a 1962 Studebaker Champ 1/2 ton Pickup.

The Studebaker Champ was a light duty pickup truck produced by Studebaker Corporation from 1960 to 1964. The Champ design was based on the 1959-60 Studebaker Lark.

studebaker champ

1962 Studebaker Champ

By the end of the 1950′s Studebaker Corporation was in financial difficulty. One way they proposed to stay afloat was to produce new cars and trucks from parts they already had in inventory. Trucks

Trucks were a particular concern for the automaker. The pickup truck they initially introduced in 1949 became very outdated when compared to their competitors offerings in 1959. Studebaker’s was not in a position to design an entirely new pickup like Chevrolet was doing for the 1960 model year. Instead, Studebaker took the front end of a Lark passenger car, added a unique bumper and grille, and came up with a reasonably good looking truck with a Lark dashboard inside. Some promoted the light truck as having passenger car comfort along with light truck utility.

studebaker champ design

Lark type grille on the 1962 Studebaker Champ light weight pickup

The 1961 Studebaker models had fashionable new “Spaceside” beds. These wide full width cargo boxes weren’t offered until 1961 and incorporated the rear wheels.

The problem if one really noticed was that they didn’t fit the cab. The lines and styling look a little off, and the bed is wider than the cab body. The reason for this was that the beds came from Dodge. Studebaker was not in the financial position to come up with an entirely new cargo bed of their own. The 6½ and 8-foot Spaceside model P2 pickup box used on the Champs became standard equipment, and the narrower P1 box was only available on special order.

The Studebaker Champs for 1963 and 1964 had the distinction of offering service bodies of fiberglass. While Studebaker did offer power steering on their larger truck models they never did offer it on the Champ light pickup models.

Certainly there was a lot of strong competition during the first years of the 1960′s in the light truck marketplace. One way that Studebaker hoped to compete was in price. The 1962 Studebaker Champ 1/2 ton pickup with a six cylinder engine had a price tag of about $1,900. The Champ eights could cost about $2,200.

Studebaker Champ Pickup Production

Studebaker Champ light truck production averaged about 5,500 units in 1960 and about the same for 1961.. Production numbers for 1962 were a little over 7,000 units, about 5,800 in 1963 and about 2,500 units in 1964. All during this time Studebaker was competing for government military truck contracts that could offset costs for their civilian truck production.

Studebaker closed it’s South Bend plant in December 1963 and stopped truck production. After that Studebaker Lark passenger car production continued in it’s Hamilton, Ontario plant.

1962 Studebaker Champ Pickup Specifications

In 1962 the Studebaker Champ Pickup was offered with either a six or eight cylinder engine.

The two sixes were a 170 and 245 cubic inch delivering 90 and 118 horsepower respectively. Also offered were two V-8′s. These were a 259 and 289 cubic inch engines putting out 180 and 210 horsepower respectively. The V-8 Champs were the only models offered with Studebaker’s Flightomatic automatic transmission. The Flightomatic was built by Borg-Warner.

studebaker champ 1962

Rear view of the Studebaker Champ

Studebaker did have a well publicized problem with their six cylinder engines during this time. The overhead-valve six cylinder heads tended to crack.

There was a good selection of transmissions available on the Studebaker Champ. These included a three speed column shifted manual with options for a four or five speed. There was also overdrive offered on the three speed. As mentioned above, a Flightomatic automatic was also available on the eights.

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There is a good book with plenty of photographs and images of Studebaker trucks. You may want to look for…Studebaker Trucks 1941-1964 Photo Archive by author Howard L. Applegate.

1962 studebaker champ pickup

Studebaker Champ

The Studebaker Champ Pickup Collector Vehicle

There is a small but enthusiastic following for these sleek pickups. You’ll occasionally see these light pickups at car shows and more often at vintage truck events.

The Studebaker Champs were not big sellers. As a comparison, Studebaker truck production numbers were less than half of competitor Willys.

The Studebaker Champs that are for sale are generally inexpensive so they offer a good way to begin a classic car collection. By the same token they are not expected to offer much investment potential.

A major plus for collectors is that there is good club support for Studebakers. These include the Studebaker Drivers Club and the Antique Studebaker Club.

As of this writing you might come across a restored Studebaker Champ for sale in the mid teens. Everything will depend on the degree of restoration and mechanical condition. Non restored but operating Champs could be found below the $10,000 level. Some that are non restored and in need of major work might be in the $2,000 to $4,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)


1952 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 Door Sedan

The automobile featured in this article is the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 Door Sedan. The Plymouth Cranbrook  first came out in 1951 as Plymouth’s top of the line entry. It replaced the Special Deluxe model when Plymouth changed its naming scheme.

1952 plymouth cranbrook

1952 Plymouth Cranbrook

The Korean War adversely affected production since Chrysler was awarded a government contract to supply war materiel. The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook itself was similar to the 1951 model but production numbers were quite different. Plymouth Cranbrook 1951 production numbers totaled about 550,000 vehicles. In 1952 that figure fell to 368,000. The following year saw production up to 400,000.

Plymouth Cranbrook Styling

The Plymouth Cranbrook was built as a Sedan, Coupe and Convertible. Any way you look at it the Plymouth Cranbrook exudes a conservative style. Some would call this model the All American car with it’s large fenders and bumpers. The Cranbrook with it’s six cylinder engine and weight meant that it would never be accused of being a performance car.

plymouth cranbrook dashboard

Plymouth Cranbrook dashboard

The body was welded steel and the frame was arc welded. Chrysler styling with the late 1940′s models was a matter of adding a lot of chrome without much thought to it. Their cars from 1950 through 1952 were cleared somewhat of the excess chrome but the boxy silhouette remained.

Chrysler Corporation bought their bodies from Briggs.  Briggs Manufacturing was a major company in the automotive body and upholstery field. Briggs produced bodies for Ford, Chrylser, Packard and some independents. Chrysler acquired Briggs’s American car body operation in 1953 for $35 million. At that time Brigg’s largest customer was Plymouth.

plymouth cranbrook design

View of the simple Plymouth Cranbrook rear end

In some ways the Plymouth Cranbrook delivered what Chrysler Corporation President K.T. Keller wanted to see in an automobile, that is, a high roofed car that people could wear their hats in. Keller’s influence on Chrysler meant many years of very functional yet unfashionable automobile designs. K.T. Keller joined Chrysler Corporation as Vice President in 1926; became President in 1935 and Chairman in 1950. While Chrysler was led by Keller production did reach the one million unit mark.

1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Specifications

The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook came with a 217-cid flathead straight-six engine, which was rated at 97 hp. This was the same engine offered in the 1951 models.

Transmission was a three speed column mounted manual.

Brakes were hydraulic four wheel drum. Brakes consisted of Cyclebond brake shoes. These were brake linings without rivets. The brake lining was bonded to the steel shoe by pressure and heat.

Front suspension were coiled springs while the rear suspension sat on leaf springs.

The car’s wheelbase was 118.5 inches, it’s overall outside length 193,875 inches, width was 73.375 inches and height 64.625 inches.

The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook had an average weight of about 3,300 lbs.

The new car base price of the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Sedan was $1,690.

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Plymouth Cranbrook Collector Car

The Plymouth Cranbrook is not exactly a head turning car. As mentioned above, the styling was very conservative but at the same time the Cranbrook also represents the thinking of Chrysler at that time and the influence of K.T. Keller.  In that respect there’s a lot to the Plymouth story of such a relatively plain looking automobile and as such it makes the model a good collector car. It’s also a relatively inexpensive collector car and makes a good start to a collection.

plymouth cranbrook

1952 Plymouth

Parts appear to be easily accessible if you plan on picking up a project model. All the mechanical parts are available through many auto parts stores and the prices are very reasonable.The Plymouth Cranbrook is considered a solid built car that’s easily repairable.

As of this writing the price range seen for the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook is from about $15,000 to $30,000. Price will depend on restoration degree, mechanical soundness as well as actual miles. Non restored models will likely be well under $10,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)