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1955 Champion hardtop (16G6-K5)

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  • 1955 Champion hardtop (16G6-K5)

    As I have done previously with three other Studebaker in my ownership, I am again going to try and document the ownership of a vehicle that has been in my family for over 25 years - a 1955 Champion hardtop.

    This car was initially bought by my cousin and came out of Oklahoma where the restoration had taken place. My Uncle became enamored with the car, and after purchasing a '64 Champ and '64 Avanti, my cousin let it go to his dad. My Uncle Ernest and Aunt Doris took really great care of the car, and drove it on numerous tours and car shows in the late 90s/early 2000s. At the International meet in Austin in 1998, the car was judged and got 323 on its score card - but it was always a driver.

    This is a photo of the car back in about 2000 at a local festival where parade cars were parked on the street following the parade through town.

    This is another photo from about 2003 or so, at the family farm in Central Texas.

    The cars VIN is G-1326501 making it a South Bend car - only 1446 produced. One of my early challenges will be correcting the VIN on documentation - going back into the 1980s from some Oklahoma forms, the G was always a 6 and has been repeated ever since - we will see how smooth this can be changed.

    I did not think too much about the VIN until I verified in the FF Turning Wheels article on the 1955s from February of 1994, that the very first Champion for the year was numbered 1316501. That make this car Champion number 10,001 for the model year.

    And another squeezing of the number puzzle - the car is clearly a post mid-year two tone paint job - top paint included the deck lid and inner rear fenders. Well that started with South Bend Champion number 1326201 - exactly 300 Champions before the one being discussed in this thread (I know not all 300 Champions before this car were two tone hardtops, but it is still pretty neat).

    The body tag shows that this car was the 684 Champion hardtop body welded up for 1955.

    So sit back and I will try to make this as interesting as I can.
    Last edited by 62champ; 02-28-2021, 01:59 PM.

  • #2
    These do look so much better without that gaudy hood ornament and fog lights, which the Speedster would look naked without.
    "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


    • #3
      Originally posted by rockne10 View Post
      These do look so much better without that gaudy hood ornament . . .
      My Uncle actually had the hood ornament for it, but decided to not put it on - he felt at his advanced age, it would make the hood too heavy to lift very easy.


      • #4
        Patrick, really neat car. I have always really liked the mid-year two-tone paint scheme!
        Last edited by r1lark; 02-28-2021, 04:37 PM.
        Winston-Salem, NC
        Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at:


        • #5
          Originally posted by r1lark View Post
          If you run this out to 10,000, it seems like the 10,000th Champion would be 1326500, and your car would be the 10,001st Champion. Am I all wet here?
          Changed it - thanks for clarifying.


          • #6

            I remember this ole car and have vivid recollections of it and your Uncle Earnest. The last was a chapter meeting over near Waco. I can't remember the diner's name, but it had good food, to go along with the good time we all spent kicking tires and jaw jawing.

            The one thing that really stood out about this little car, it had one hot little 185 under the hood.....



            • #7
              Very nice looking color combination and awesome bright chrome. Real nice Studebaker...Mike
              Mike - Assistant Editor, Turning Wheels
              Fort Worth, TX

              1964 Avanti R2 #R-4986


              • #8
                Originally posted by Silverplate View Post
                . . . and awesome bright chrome.
                Thanks Mike - a lot of people don't really understand how hot chrome can get in full sunlight until they have lived in Texas for a single summer...


                • #9
                  Great looking car and I love the history! What I appreciate about Studebaker owners is that they celebrate the birth, milestones and history behind their cars.
                  1963 Studebaker GT Hawk R1 63V-33867
                  1964 Studebaker Avanti R1 R-5364
                  1970 Avanti II RQA-0385
                  1981 Avanti II RQB-3304


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rockne10 View Post
                    These do look so much better without that gaudy hood ornament and fog lights, which the Speedster would look naked without.
                    I agree and I have a Speedster.

                    I had a similar serial # problem on an Avanti. It had an extra digit in the title so 5 digits instead of 4. It was very simple, here at least, to get it corrected.
                    Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

                    40 Champion 4 door*
                    50 Champion 2 door*
                    53 Commander K Auto*
                    53 Commander K overdrive*
                    55 President Speedster
                    62 GT 4Speed*
                    63 Avanti R1*
                    64 Champ 1/2 ton

                    * Formerly owned


                    • #11
                      I have gone through and looked at some old photos and found a few from back in the day when my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Doris were driving the car.

                      Snow in Texas (outside of the Panhandle) is unusual (ignore this winter - does not count). So what better thing to do when it snows than get your classic car out and snap a couple of photos.

                      These are from February 2, 1996, when the town of Hillsboro got a dusting.

                      My paternal family's home town was situated along a Santa Fe railway line in a geographic are of Texas known as Blackland Prairie - and it was a good place to grow cotton. In the 1990s, like every small town, the town of Buckholts decided to get more than 300 people (population) to show up for a weekend and started what was known as the Cotton Festival. As part of that, there was a parade through town @10 am on Saturday morning. The parade route was all of about six or seven blocks, but the best part is the parade vehicles parked on main street when things were all finished. This is from June of 1998, with Uncle Ernest behind the wheel.

                      Also that summer, the Texas chapters of the SDC were getting geared up for the International Meet to be held in the capital city of Austin. Various family members helped out in a number of ways, and the 55 was there all week. My Aunt and Uncle also had the car judged and walked away with a plaque for their efforts. Two weeks later, they pulled the car into the front yard of their house and took a whole roll of film of the car from different angles and included the memorabilia from the International.

                      I think a third party was with them on that day and decided it would be a shame to not have a photo of them with the car, so they grabbed their Polaroid camera and snapped this photo.

                      Next will get some photos of how the car currently sits and how things have changed since it was last driven, believed to be @2010.
                      Last edited by 62champ; 03-03-2021, 05:08 PM.


                      • #12
                        My Aunt Doris passed in 2015 and Ernest in 2017. I know they had not seen the car in five or six years and had not driven it in over ten before their passing. While the car did not sit outside at any point, the environment was not the cleanest and dust has accumulated quite heavily. This area is not wet at all, so I am hopeful there is not rust to have to deal with.

                        This is where the car is currently on the outside:

                        I am not going to try and deal with any of the mechanical issues that need to be looked at to get fire in the pipes and the car stopping again. Once I get it up on a trailer, the first step will be getting it cleaned up for the first time in years and see how the paint has done. I know any chrome that could pit, has gotten pits in it, and other than cleaning and waxing, there is no going back on those parts.


                        • #13
                          At least it was under cover, and you said fairly dry there, so you might get lucky. I've seen some pretty rough looking cars shine up nice again. Keep us posted on the results!


                          • #14
                            And as of the end of February, this is what the interior is looking like. It was done when the car was restored back in the early 90s. It is not original and they eliminated all the small stainless trim that would have gone on the door and rear quarter panels as well as trying to get something to match the metallic brown lower paint.

                            And this is how the trunk looked before I sorted through everything inside.

                            I removed all the trash and car cover - retaining everything else and tossing in a couple things that I want to place back on the car. The original mesh floor covering, though not perfect, is still on the floor. Want to eventually get it out and carefully clean and replace.

                            The motor is stock except for the aluminum head. It has dual tail pipes, but the exhaust splits behind the muffler - I am entertaining the idea of getting a dual exhaust manifold and making it a true dual exhaust car.

                            I believe the car was originally Pima Red and Sonora Beige - production order will tell for sure.
                            Last edited by 62champ; 03-11-2021, 05:02 AM.


                            • #15
                              Nice '55 Hardtop Patrick, the Champions don't get much love, but that one should be faster than most and it's good looking under all that dirt.

                              As long as it has been in your Family, was it always Brown?
                              I don't recall that being a Factory Color, so it must have been repainted a very long time ago.
                              Second Generation Stude Driver,
                              Proud '54 Starliner Owner