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The new Studebaker automatic transmission

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  • The new Studebaker automatic transmission

  • #2
    So the Automatic-Drive was only available for half a model year on the big 6 Commander? That's an awful short run for the tooling costs. I could see stretching it out for a few years as a light truck option, but it seems like a small seller seeing how that market was so austere and utilitarian back then....
    1963 Champ "Stu Bludebaker"- sometimes driver
    1957 Silver Hawk "Josie"- picking up the pieces after an unreliable body man let it rot for 11 years from an almost driver to a basket case
    1951 Land Cruiser "Bunnie Ketcher" only 47M miles!
    1951 Commander Starlight "Dale"- basket case
    1947 Champion "Sally"- basket case
    1941 Commander Land Cruiser "Ursula"- basket case


    • #3
      Doug you misunderstood the message. It was not that the trans was only in production for half the year. It was just touting that the unit would first be available at that time. That trans served Studebaker well through 1955, and it's use was only discontinued because in the drop in sales, which pushed it's unit cost up beyond what Studebaker felt that it could sustain. The transmission did not go away though, and became standard equipment in the Jaguar through the early 60's.


      • #4
        Here's the story that I heard. Studebaker and Borg-Warner spent lots of time and money designing the transmission. Ford asked Studebaker to license it to them and Ford would pay a royalty for each unit purchased. Studebaker management said NO! as they wanted it exclusively for themselves. So Ford and Borg-Warner designed a unit that was cheaper to build and used that. Eventually, Borg-Warner came to Studebaker and said they were not buying enough Automatic Drive transmissions and Borg-Warner was going to discontinue production. So Studebaker was forced to buy the cheaper unit that Ford was using and pay a royalty to Ford.

        I do not know if Studebaker really did have to pay a royalty to Ford, but this is just an example of the way Studebaker management made a poor decision whenever they could. If management had let Ford use the transmission they would have gotten boat loads of money in royalties, plus there would be hundreds of thousands of Automatic Drives out there - with locking torque converters, too. Very important for fuel economy.
        Last edited by RadioRoy; 12-22-2017, 02:39 PM.
        RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

        17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
        10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
        10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
        4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
        5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
        56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
        60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible


        • #5
          "After April 1, 1950" actually means to and INCLUDING 1955 year Models; Champion, Commander Sixes and V8's also to 1956 in V8 Trucks!

          Of course it was not written in 1956, so their Crystal Ball wouldn't work that well!
          Last edited by StudeRich; 12-22-2017, 11:28 AM.
          Second Generation Stude Driver,
          Proud '54 Starliner Owner


          • #6
            The Wards Auto article regarding production decline doesn't identify the location of Centerline Motor Sales. Is this one Bob Johnstone has included in his list of dealers and, if so, has he attached a photo?

            "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

            Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
            Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
            '33 Rockne 10,
            '51 Commander Starlight,
            '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
            '56 Sky Hawk


            • #7
              That transmission thing was another one of Studebaker managements smart moves. Just think if they had let Ford have it how much money they would have been taking in ever year just on that alone. May have been enough to help them stay open.


              • #8
                Studebaker insisted on one years exclusive use of the auto before selling it to competitors.