1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible

First By Far with a Post War Car“, those were the words from Studebaker, a company with it’s origins in horse drawn wagon making in the 1850’s and which sold a great number of their wagons to the Union Army during the Civil War.

1951 Studebaker Commander
1951 Studebaker Commander

Studebaker led the pack with it’s first post World War Two design debuting in 1947. Probably one of the best words to describe Studebaker post war styling is “individualistic“.

Studebaker was one of the first American automakers to resume production after the war turning out their cars beginning in December 1945 just about four months after Ford Motor Company. Their first post war automobiles, like virtually all automakers, were very similar to either 1941 or 1942 models with a bit of a refreshed look.

A Much Remembered Studebaker

The 1951 Studebaker Convertible featured in this article was another big leap forward. Both the 1950 and 1951 Studebakers had that “bullet nose” design which truly set it apart from others. In fact, the 1950 and 51 Studebakers were very much ahead of their time at the start of the 1950’s. If you try to think back to a Studebaker model the chances are you’ll picture either a 1950 or 1951 model. Somehow that innovative bullet nose seems to stick in the collective mind.

1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible
1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible

!950 and 1951 Studebaker Styling

The new Studebaker styling unveiled in 1947 had the mark of Virgil Exner, one of America’s top automotive designers and a man who left a big imprint during the decade of the 50’s. Several of the 1950’s fin designs came from the Virgil Exner drawing board. Exner did much of the work in combination with Raymond Loewry’s studios but departed the company after the new design was launched.

The Bullet Nose we remember so much from the 1950 and 1951 models was the product of designer Bob Bourke along with the Loewry studios although the design really needs to be credited to Bourke. The overall styling of these first 1950’s models were quite futuristic considering their bullet nose and vista dome like rear window. The rear deck looked about just as long as the hood. There was nothing remotely like it in 1950. The bullet nose gave these cars an aircraft type of look. as with almost every car design, the bullet nosed 1950 and 1951 Studebakers had their fans and detractors.

The 1951 Models

The three Studebaker models for 1951 included the Champion, the Commander and the four door sedan Land Cruiser. In 1951 the Champion and Commander looked fairly identical. While in 1950 these two models had different wheelbases, in 1951 they shared the same wheelbase at 115.0 inches. The Convertible Studebakers in both the Champion and Commander models couldn’t sport that vista dome rear window. Their overall length was also the same in 1951 where the Commander was about ten inches longer than the Champion in 1950.

1951 Studebaker dashboard
1951 Studebaker dashboard

The 1951 Studebaker Commander featured in this article is considered a very popular post war classic.

1951 Studebaker Specifications

Studeaber came out with two engines for their 1951 models. This was an Inline 169 cubic inch six cylinder engine in it’s Champion models delivering 85 horsepower. The other, seen in the Commander models was an Overhead Valve 232 cubic inch V-8 delivering 120 horsepower. Studebaker actually pioneered this powerful engine while a lot of people tend to credit Ford and Chevy.

Studebaker promoted their V-8 aggressively pointing out it’s power and economy and what they called at a surprisingly low price.

1951 Studebaker
1951 Studebaker

Transmissions on both models were three speed manual.

Wheelbase for both the Champion and Commander models was 115.0 inches. In 1950 the Commander had about a longer wheelbase. The Land Cruiser in 1951 had a 119.0 inch wheelbase. Overall length for both models was 197.5 inches.

Suspension for both models were independent coil springs on the front and solid axle semi-elliptical leaf springs on the rear.

Brakes on both the Champion and Commander models were hydraulic cast iron drums.

The Studebaker Commander Convertible weight came in at about 3,200 lbs.

Total Studebaker production for 1951 came in at 268,000 vehicles. Out of this number 144,000 were Champions and 124,000 were Commanders which included the Land Cruisers.

Two additional AutoMuseumOnline articles you may enjoy are on the links below…

1955 Studebaker Pick-Up

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Studebaker Bullet Nose Commander
Studebaker Bullet Nose Commander

Studebaker Collector Cars

Studebakers from both the 1947 post war years and through the 1951 bullet nosed years are popular collector cars. Studebakers stand out with their vista dome rear windows and the later addition of the bullet nose design.

One of the favorites is the 1951 Commander Convertible shown in this article. The 1951 models also represent the first year of Studebakers powerful small block V-8 which make the entire 1951 Commander line-up popular.

1951 Studebaker auction prices for mint conditioned originals as of this writing are strong. The Commander models have sold in the mid to high $30,000 range. The highest selling price appears to be just short of $50,000. One of the best selling collector Studebakers from this period is the 1951 four door sedan.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)