View Full Version : Looking to become a new studebaker owner... anything to look out for?

06-04-2016, 04:03 PM
I have been interested in Studebakers for as long as I can remember seeing the first bullet nose... I am looking into picking up a '49-'51 Commander and use it as my daily driver.

My preference is the 4 door style Deluxe or Land Cruiser variations (although the Starlight is quite sexy too...).

Anything I need to be aware of when looking for these?

What are some of the key questions I should ask the sellers?

Are there any major mechanical issues these cars are known for?

My mechanical ability is limited so I am looking for something that is street legal and drivable with minimal restoration work needed.

What is a 'fair price' for one of these in ^ condition?

The wife has given me an allowance to spend on such a treasure. I have found a few candidates in the condition that I require and they exceed that budget, so if any of you feel so inclined to assist me with that part, it would be most appreciated! You can make donations to an up and coming Studebaker addict here: gofund.me/27gmr98 (https://www.gofundme.com/27gmr98). :!!:

I am so excited to be a proud owner of one of these machines my wife is getting sick of me talking about it!

Thanks everyone in advance for your responses!

06-04-2016, 04:17 PM
Welcome to the SDC and to the SDC Forum Roman!

While you are doing your Search for just the right Car you can belong to the Club, Membership may help you to connect to other Local Members in your Utah Chapter or neighboring Chapters and also getting the Monthly Publication "Turning Wheels" with it's Parts Classified Ads, and Cars For Sale Ads etc. etc may also help you.

There is a discounted price link available at the top of these Pages to Join.

I do not want to dash your desires for a '47 To '50 Model by entering my personal opinions and preferences, but in my opinion the few improvements on the '50 Commander vs the Champion and the massive amount of Mechanical improvements on the 1951 Champion AND Commander Models are definitely something to consider.

A Major change for '51, was the entire Steering and Suspension System upgrades that most of which, were so good that they were kept all the way to the Avanti and 1966 Models.

The "Go Fund Me" concept is certainly a New one to me, I have never heard of anyone doing that and if it works, you may be the FIRST Club Member to use that technique, at least it is worth a try.
When I was restoring some of my Studebakers I should have thought of asking my "Neighbor" Bill Gates to help with my Cars! :rolleyes:

06-04-2016, 04:26 PM
Roman, as already stated " joining the SDC will prove worthy " TWs is a good read,and Who knows that may find You the right Car.

06-04-2016, 04:27 PM
I agree with Rich. If you are ready to cut your teeth on a Studebaker, you are well advised to begin with one with a suspension adopted in the 1951 model year or later. Were you already anointed in Studebakers and ready to make that next step, we are still here to help.

Deaf Mute
06-04-2016, 04:42 PM
Remember, it is usually cheaper in the long run to pay a bit more for a good car... than to try to save a buck now & finding that you need to stick in another twenty tomorrow.
There are some nice ones out there and most SDC members will actually offer to help you check out a car before purchasing ANOTHER GOOD REASON TO JOIN A LOCAL CHAPTER.

Welcome to the world of Studebaker!

06-04-2016, 05:15 PM
I noticed you specified 49-51 model. I would point out that, although 1950 model Studebakers were sold in the last few months of 1949, they were considered 1950 cars. Many people think the 1949 Studebakers had bullet noses, but that is a confusion caused by the sale date.
If the gofund.me thing works for you that will be great, but most people are not going to fund someones hobby....unless it is a doting grandmother or the like. :)

Commander Eddie
06-04-2016, 07:43 PM
I grew up with Studebaker but did not own one from the time I went into the Navy in 1970 until 2010 when I bought a beautiful 1950 4-door Commander Regal-Delux. What a gem. Yes, it had the older suspension and steering but it ran so well I did not care. And, parts are still available. I had not trouble replacing the few minor things that needed attention. Just find yourself a good mechanic who knows how to work on these if you can't work on it yourself. Keep it in good running condition and it will bring you just as much joy as a later model. Just my 2 cents worth.
B-t-w, I sold it to buy a newer model with power steering and automatic transmission so my wife could drive it too. She has arthritis and a replacement knee so could not handle a stick shift and no power steering. We both miss the '50 Commander a lot.

06-05-2016, 12:48 AM
welcome to the forum. I wish you the best of luck in your search for a bullet nose. They are great cars!

But... The go fund me page is a joke and surprised people are still trying it. Work hard... Don't ask for handouts...

Lower your expectations and save up. These cars will be around for many years to come. Make friends with the local stude club nearest you. Maybe someone has one parked in the back 40 and is willing to give you a good deal if you put in the time and effort to get it back on the road.

06-05-2016, 08:18 AM
'47-'52's are a great choice!....Much better constructed than the later 'all steel' models!....If it turns out to be a '47-'50, I believe that you'd find a Champion to be a better 'daily driver' than a Commander (IMHO)

Good luck! :)

06-05-2016, 08:48 AM
Roman, welcome to the Forum! There's plenty of knowledgeable and helpful Stude addicts here waiting to answer any question. I also encourage you to join the SDC and your local chapter. You will not regret it. May I also echo Deaf Mute's sentiment: buy the best car you can afford. These cars are a labor of love, and frankly you will likely not get out of them financially what you put into them. Your return will come in the form of the driving fun, the thumbs-up, and camaraderie with fellow Stude nuts...and that is worth every penny!

Pat Dilling
06-05-2016, 09:09 AM
I agree with those that encourage you to search for the later model 51-52 cars if you like that style. The improved suspension is good to have for parts availability and interchange. I also suggest the Commander over the Champion if you plan to drive the car daily, especially if you will be driving on the freeways in fast moving traffic. Not only will the larger V8 engine help you keep up with traffic, more importantly the bigger brakes will help you stop! Also there are aftermarket disk brake upgrades that will bolt onto the later model cars. Generally the 4 door cars may be less expensive as many people want the "sexy" Starlight Coupes. But for that reason, finding a 4 door in good to excellent condition might be more difficult, although we have seen increased interest in 4 door cars in recent years. Good luck on your search and please come join us in the SDC and your local chapter. The benefits will far outweigh the reasonable cost.


Mark L
06-05-2016, 01:11 PM
Most importantly, you have your wife's blessing and encouragement.

06-05-2016, 02:37 PM
Thank you all for the warm welcome and advice! I will most certainly look into the local chapter, that's a great idea! You have really given me some insights into the differences between the 50/51 too, I had been wondering if there were any major differences there.

I'm still a bit fuzzy on the differences between the champion and the commander, Is it the same body with better guts or is it a different style altogether?

I am really looking forward to more discussions and prepare yourselves for a slew of questions as I discover the world of Studebaker first hand! :D

This has already been super helpful!

06-05-2016, 02:38 PM
Most importantly, you have your wife's blessing and encouragement.

Indeed! We reached a compromise... (and I think I came out on top of this one), she begged to have a new critter and I set the terms for a Studebaker and the terms were accepted!

06-05-2016, 03:43 PM
I'm still a bit fuzzy on the differences between the champion and the commander, Is it the same body with better guts or is it a different style altogether?

What you will notice about the 47-50 cars is that the Commanders have a longer nose/wheelbase because they used a larger six than the Champions. In 51 the V-8 was introduced and the cars used the same sheet metal and there are only a few trim differences on the outside. Of course, the drive trains are different and the Champions used smaller brakes.

06-05-2016, 03:55 PM
/Cut/I'm still a bit fuzzy on the differences between the champion and the commander, Is it the same body with better guts or is it a different style altogether?/Cut/

As long as we are talking non-Land Cruiser, the differences are very few on the Main Body of the 1951 Models, mostly Interior trim and Dashboard, Commanders were more expensive and had to show a bit more Luxurious and expensive appointments.
Of course the whole Power Train including Brakes, was upgraded to stronger, larger on Commanders both '50 and '51.

The 1950 Commander is a different story. While the Non-Land Cruiser Models did have the same Main body as Champions, the entire front end was Longer, Heavier looking etc. with larger Parking lights which entailed Larger Headlight/Parking Light Rims.
Other Details like Tail Lights, Trunk Handles, & other Trim were changed to mostly just look "Different' for the money.

The Commander Land Cruisers were a Model all by themselves, with a Longer Wheelbase than Standard Commanders, a stretched Rear Seat Area with a fold down Armrest and Longer Rear Doors.
The 1951 Land Cruiser also had a longer wheelbase than other "Commanders" like the even Longer 1950's as these "Y" Body Studebakers were always from their inception back in 1934, a Top of the Sedan Line, Luxury, Semi-Limousine Model.

55008 Mickey Rooney Advertizing for Studebaker, on a '34 Land Cruiser.

55009 Here is a 1950 Commander Land Cruiser with the larger (245 C.I.D.) than Champion (169) Flathead 6 Cyl. Engine.
These LC's can be distinguished by their Longer Rear Doors with opening Vent Windows.

06-05-2016, 09:35 PM
Also watch out for jealous "brand X" car owners!:rolleyes: