View Full Version : 56 through 58 Studebaker comparison

05-04-2006, 01:23 AM
It has always seemed to me that for the sedans and 1 starlight coupe of 56-58 model years, Studebaker went with styling that was more conventional to the times, I have always felt that Presidents and Commanders of those years resembled Chrysler products, or vice versa. What I would like to know is how other people feel Studebakers from these years stacked up against other manufactures cars, also what makes do you consider to be on the same level as a Studebaker Commander President or Scotsman from this time period. For example Plymouth and Chevrolet were basically in the same range when you consider price, options, engine, ect. Do you feel that Commanders were on the level with Plymouths Chevy, ect? or more in the Dodge Pontiac Mercury, others Range. Looking forward to hearing what other people think.

05-04-2006, 02:23 AM
I think that by 1955 it was obiviuos,the "European" look,as beautifull as the coupes and hardtops were,were never going to be sales winners.Rather than try and beat the competition,Studebaker chose to join them.Thus"The new big Studebakers",from 56-58 were born,and of course they were not the big sellers Stude needed either. Theres a book out called "GM could have sold a lot of these"concerning the 56-58 models.They were excellent cars,just far to much competition,and Studebaker could not afford to design a whole new powerplant to compete with the Chrysler hemis and Ford and GMs ever increasing horsepower.
The Champions were the Chevy, Plymouth competitors,the Commanders the Pontiac, Dodge,Mercury,and the Presidents the Olds,Buick,and Desoto,price competitors.
The big Studebakers were some of the best riding,durable cars to come from South Bend yet,and their styling,though not as dramatic and different as the earlier years,was as good as the rest,except for those 58 grafted on quad headlights.Ive always thought that nobody ever built a nicer roofline than the 58 hardtops.By 58 times were so bad that if it were not for the new Lark that had only the Rambler for competition,it would have been the end of the hunt right then.

05-04-2006, 11:56 AM
I think the 56-58's look as good as or better than the big three cars of the time. I think the 58 front bumper should have been a straight bar like the Packard, instead of curving downward on each side. The 58's headlight pods are controversial, but you get used to them, and after awhile, cars without pods look weird to you! :)

05-04-2006, 11:59 AM
I have a very rusty '58 Pres hardtop to restore. So rusty that if it were a '62 Lark no one would bother. Anyway, was the frame on the 56-58 big Studes any stiffer than the rubber band frame found on the coupes? Just curious.

05-04-2006, 12:27 PM
Studebaker-Packard President James Nance blamed Raymond Leowy's "European Look" for weak 1954 and 1955 sales at Studebaker and pretty much dictated "The Big Car Look" for 1956. The hooded headlights and cathedral taillights featured on the 4-door and 2-door sedans also tied in naturally with similar design themes at Studebaker's sister division, Packard. As for design and how the 1956-1958 Studebakers compared with the Big 3's Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth, I would say S-Ps relatively narrow bodyshell aged the cars compared to the competition and this is really apparent if you have ever owned or even driven a 1956 Studebaker sedan and compared it with the Chevrolet. All of Studebaker's low-price competition were wider and felt wider and lower to the driver. Also, one glance at the dash board and Ford, Plymouth and Chevrolet came away winners with their gleaming new dashboard designs and style. Studebaker, by necessity, had to focus its limited dollar resources on revamping the outside of the car. Of the 1956-1958 styling, I like the 1957 facelift the best, followed by the 1956 (I have owned a 1956 Commander sedan) and the 1958. The 1958 came across as an over-facelifted odd duck that tried to hard to be...something. The 1958 hardtops did have a Chrysler-like look to them as the post above points out, and these cars are very attractive in my opinion. History tells us though that by late 1956 S-P management knew it had hopelessly dated cars on their hands and the competition's were much better. Proof of this comes via the fact S-P approached Ford management at this time and proposed buying the 1956 Ford and Lincoln bodyshells for reskinning and reuse as 1957 Studebakers and Packards. Ford courteously turned down S-P but Ford later received something S-P once had...James Nance. That's another story for another post!

--1963 Cruiser

05-04-2006, 01:56 PM
quote:Originally posted by casey

I have a very rusty '58 Pres hardtop to restore. So rusty that if it were a '62 Lark no one would bother. Anyway, was the frame on the 56-58 big Studes any stiffer than the rubber band frame found on the coupes? Just curious.

The frames on C/K models increased in thickness through the years, 1953-1964. Also the frames on the C/Ks were supported over a 120.5 inch wheelbase where most '56-'58 sedan models were on the 116.5 inch wheelbase.

Gary L.
1954 Commander Starliner (restomod)
1959 DeLuxe pickup (restomod)