This 1927 Studebaker is indeed a rare find and it's a great collector's car. Manufactured in South Bend Indiana, the Studebaker company has it's roots all the way back to 1852 first as a blacksmith shop manufacturing parts for carriages and then as a carriage maker. One of the five Studebaker brothers made a good amount of money in Placerville California during the early Gold Rush years and returned to help expand the family enterprise.
Another fortunate financial situation for the carriage business was the Studebaker's contract to supply wagons to the Union Army during the American Civil War. Because of these roots back to the mid 1800's Studebaker is considered one of the oldest names in the automotive industry.
Studebaker Enters the Horseless Carriage Business
After years of prodding by a Studebaker family member who thought it was time to enter the horseless carriage business, Studebaker the carriage maker began in the automobile business in 1902 and had the distinction of manufacturing electric powered cars for the first two years in business. They introduced gasoline power in 1904. Packard Motors Company of Detroit, Michigan acquired Studebaker in 1954. They then became a division of the Studebaker Packard Corporation from 1954 until 1962. The division went back to its previous name of Studebaker Corporation in 1962 but could only continue another four years..
Every car that Studebaker manufactured during the 1920's came with six cylinder engines until 1928 when the Studebaker President model came out in January of 1928 with eight cylinders. The six cylinder Studebakers from 1920 through 1927 were the Light, the Special and the Big Six. The Big Six model was manufactured through 1926.
Of special note is that the Studebaker six cylinders built through 1927 were the last of the models specifically built for the rugged roads of the early 1900's. Vintage auto history buffs know that from the early to mid 1920's Studebakers were built for endurance. Studebaker, a company essentially started by five brothers, continued to be known as a manufacturer of reliable cars throughout it's existence.
The car shown in this article is the 1927 Studebaker Special Six Commander. The Special Commander model first came out in 1927, would be renamed as only the "Commander" in 1928, and would be a model name all the way to 1964 although there were two short periods in 1936 and from 1959 to 1963 that it wasn't built. The Studebaker Commander was also shifted in the Studebaker model rankings at various times throughout it's almost forty year history.
A Speed and Endurance Winner
Studebaker celebrated it's "Diamond Jubilee" in 1927 as an automaker they also completed their move to South Bend Indiana that same year. It's interesting to point out that numerous speed records were won by the Studebaker Commander that very same year. The Studebaker Commandeer as a stock car essentially held all speed and endurance records at one time. Studebaker Commanders established endurance records of up to 25,000 miles at average speeds a bit over 60 MPH. Many considered the Studebaker Commander as a "Big Six" with just a different name. Studebaker actually held over 100 stock car records, some lasting for decades.
Links to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy include;
1927 Studebaker Special Six Commander Specs
The 1927 Studebaker Special Six Commander sold new for an average price of about $1,650.
The engine was six cylinders with 289 cid and 65 horsepower.
The automobile had a seating capacity for five and had a wheelbase of 120.0 inches and a three speed manual transmission. Vehicle weight was 3,200 lbs.
All of the 1927 Studebaker's had disc wheels. These were all standard equipment due to the fact that the the four wheel brake mechanism didn't allow for the use of wood or wire spoke wheels on the front axle. After redesigning the front axle, spoke wire or wood wheels were able to be employed with the 1928 model Studebakers.
An excellent book I'd recommend regarding the entire history of Studebaker is Studebaker: The Complete History by author Patrick R. Foster. Another excellent read on the subject is More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story by author Thomas Bonsall.
(Photos from author's collection)