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.
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 The pickup truck they initially introduced in 1949 became very outdated when compared to their competitors offerings in 1959.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.
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 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.
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)