A Wagon Builder Becomes Successful Automaker
An interesting note for automobile history is that Studebaker was the only nationally known wagon manufacturer to survive the transition from horses to motorized vehicles. Another interesting side note is that it was a Civil War surplus Studebaker wagon that was converted into the first chuckwagon in the late 1860's by Texas rancher Charles Goodnight.
The Studebaker President Line
After Packard acquired Studebaker in 1954, the President line was added as a new top-of-the-line model for Studebaker. The President was a good choice for Studebaker.
It was a good addition to the economy Champion and the mid-priced Commander lines. The President is of the 1950's was a revival of a model name that brought Studebaker excellent reviews back during the Great Depression years. As far back as 1928 the Studebaker President model won over 100 stock car records. In 1932 a special Studebaker President model came in third at Indianapolis.
The Studebaker President Speedster
The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster was one of those concept cars that acquired quite a bit of buyer enthusiasm when unveiled at an auto show.The Speedster is one of the most striking Studebakers of all time. Studebaker's goal with the Speedster was to build a five passenger sports car to compete against the Big Three automakers. This was the time that sports car enthusiasm was rising in the U.S. and U.S. automakers were attempting to make inroads against the European imports.
Fourteen cars were originally built, all hardtops, for exhibition purposes only. As mentioned above, with the overwhelming public acceptance, the model was put into limited production. The production vehicles had every part and feature included on the fourteen original show cars.
The car was added mid-year in 1955 and put into limited production. The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster was the company's entry into the sports car market and it was the highest priced model in the top tier President line. The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster sold new starting at about $3,250. This was a good $800 more than the cost of a standard President.
The Studebaker President Speedster Styling
The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster was a sleek and slippery coupe that really didn't look too much like the standard President model. The hood line was designed in a low and sleek Italian style. The Speedster was well equipped having as standard equipment just about everything Studebaker offered as optional on other models.
The mid 1950's was a creative period in automobile design and styling in many ways and Studebaker was no exception. For instance, standard two tone paint came in wild color choices like pink/black or lemon/lime. All Speedsters had either two or three tone paint jobs. Along with that Studebaker offered matching hand stitched quilted leather interiors. The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster appealed to the buyer seeking style rather than simply transportation. In a sense, this Studebaker model was built to make a statement.
The 55 Studebaker Speedster shared the chrome laden fish-lip front end styling which was a part of all 1955 Studebakers.
1955 Studebaker President Speedster Specifications
The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster had a 259 cubic inch over-head valve V-8 under the hood. The engine could deliver 185 horsepower.
The 1955 Studebaker Speedster offered the buyer a choice of automatic or overdrive transmissions, power steering and brakes and a four-barrel carburetor. The Speedster's "Passmaster" engine is identical with that of the standard President but with the addition of a dual exhaust system.
The Speedster's instruments are rounded in sports car style and are set in a panel of engine-turned stainless steel and includes a 160 mph speedometer and an 8,000 rpm tachometer.
The Speedster's wheelbase came in at 120.5 inches. It's overall length was 204.4 inches, width was 70.43 inches, height 57.3 inches, and it's weight was officially 3,301 lbs.
See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...
On our Trips Into History site see the article The Studebaker National Museum
One of the more popular books regarding Studebaker automobiles is More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story by author Thomas Bonsall.
A Very Rare Collector Automobile
The Studebaker President Speedster was a limited production model and was only offered for one year. Needless to say it's a rare Studebaker and a milestone car and is quite popular among collectors. Most sources put total Speedster production at about 2,215 vehicles. Out of that number 1,795 vehicles were built in South Bend Indiana and 420 in the Los Angels / Vernon facility.
The Studebaker Speedster is a show winner and draws large crowds whenever it appears at an auto show. The Speedster was the only post war automobile that Studebaker built that came as fully equipped as a Cadillac.
There are many Studebaker clubs with chapters all around he U.S. A lot of information on these can be found at www.studebakerclubs.com
The Studebaker Speedster because of it's rarity and popularity will have solid asking prices if you do locate one for sale. Prices in the $50,000 to $70,000 range might be typical for a finely restored show quality model.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)