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'53 starliner with removable hardtop

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  • '53 starliner with removable hardtop

    I've got a '53 starliner coupe in storage that my dad had owned since the mid sixties at least. He past away in '89 and I'm trying to verify what I've heard about the car. This car's hardtop unbolts and comes off. I've tried to find info on the lift off top, but I've come up empty handed. Were these actually built for the public? I've been told that it was a prototype built for the auto show, but that could just be family legend. Anybody have any info on this?

  • #2
    It's a one-off. I'd send to the museum and get the build sheet. That would tell you more. It definitely wasn't a factory offering.

    ________________________
    Mark Anderson
    http://home.alltel.net/anderm
    1965 Studebaker Cruiser

    Comment


    • #3
      The factory made one soft top convertible prototype for 1953 that was updated to 1954 appearance. That car still exists. The factory did not make a lift off hardtop. There were many of these lift off hardtop conversions made in the '50s-'60s. I think that some were even written up in custom car magazines of the time. The factory build sheet, from the SNM, will tell you about your car as originally built.
      By the way, there is no such car as a "starliner coupe", unless you are lumping all C/K models as coupes. A Starliner (K body) is a hardtop, and what would be used to make a lift off top car, and a Starlight (C body) is a coupe.
      Gary L.
      Wappinger, NY

      SDC member since 1968
      Studebaker enthusiast much longer

      Comment


      • #4
        Not "factory".... but aftermarket customization piece? Quite possibly. It'd be the first one I've ever even heard of so I'd bet it's a custom, home-made deal. I believe the general term for these was "Carson Top".[:I]
        How about a picture or two?

        Miscreant at large.

        1957 Transtar 1/2ton
        1960 Larkvertible V8
        1958 Provincial wagon
        1953 Commander coupe
        1957 President 2-dr
        1955 President State
        1951 Champion Biz cpe
        1963 Daytona project FS
        No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

        Comment


        • #5
          thanks for the info, I will see if I can get some pics the next time I'm down there. I can't believe that my dad would have anything to do with anything 'custom' but who knows. It's red with a white top just like this http://hem.bredband.net/b284654/

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          • #6
            doesn't look like thats a good link, I'll get pics soon

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            • #7
              Mr. Biggs mentioned a "Carson Top" - these were padded removable hardtops, usually on customs. The original intention was to get the look of a convertible for summer, and the benefits of a hardtop during cold or wet weather. They were usually very expensive, too.
              The only difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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              • #8
                this is very factory looking, the top bolts to the windshield frame in a few spots and the back slips into the gap between the trunk and body. I really can't see this being done after the car was built, I'll have to get pics up ASAP. Thanks again

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                • #9
                  The kind of removable hardtops on Starliners that I remember from the '50s-'60s are not of the Carson Top variety. (I have seen more recent write-ups of Carson Tops on Studebakers.) People took a factory Starliner and made the factory top removable. A friend of mine made one. I seem to remember that he used convertible hardware/latches to fasten the front of the top to the windshield frame. Bolts at this location does not seem like a factory approach, or even a good custom shop practice. I believe that some of these customs with removable hardtops were written up in period custom magazines, probably those little pocket size ones from the '50s-'60s. I have done quite a bit of investigation of '53 Starliners and I was friends with Bob Bourke. I do not recall hearing anything about the factory building a removable hardtop and I don't remember it being in John Bridges' book on the C/Ks. If you get the build sheet for your car you will find out how it was when new. The Studebaker prototypes that I am familiar with, such as the '53 convertible, do not have body number or serial number plates.
                  Gary L.
                  Wappinger, NY

                  SDC member since 1968
                  Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    For as long as production passenger cars have existed there have been coachwork shops that modified them. Modifications such as making a car into a stretch limo or making a car into a convertible are probably more common than we realize. Today, I don't think any of the American cars that are available as a convertible actually come from the factory as such. My understanding is that the original manufacturer leaves certain parts off and that the car is then sent to the coachwork shop. Whether or not that information is correct, it is possible that the factory, a dealer, or even the original owner sent the '53 Starliner to a coachwork shop to have the conversion done. Then again, maybe the car was indeed a prototype for an auto show. That is certainly in the realm of possibility. It would definitely be worthwhile to contact the Studebaker museum and try to locate the build sheet. If more information becomes available, please post it. This is quite intriguing. I hope the soft top convertible prototype, mentioned in an earlier post, is still around. What a piece of automotive history! The same is true of the removable hardtop if it turns out to indeed have been a prototype.

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                    • #11
                      Wasn't Raymond Leowy's personal 53 customized with a removable hard top?[?][?] Maybe. Just maybe.............................

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                      • #12
                        [quote]Originally posted by StudHawk60

                        Wasn't Raymond Leowy's personal 53 customized with a removable hard top?[?][?] I seem to remember his '53 as having a Targa top, with the removable portion in front, and a hard top over the rear seats. Anybody have pix of his car to post?
                        The only difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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                        • #13
                          Yup - only the roof over the front seat was removable. I've always thought that while it was cool-lookin' (actualy, I personally thought it was dorky-lookin'![xx(]) I'll bet it wasn't any joy to ride in that rear seat from a windage standpoint.[}]

                          Miscreant at large.

                          1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                          1960 Larkvertible V8
                          1958 Provincial wagon
                          1953 Commander coupe
                          1957 President 2-dr
                          1955 President State
                          1951 Champion Biz cpe
                          1963 Daytona project FS
                          No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Do you know if this car has ever been in California? Could be a car done by an LA dealer. A '55 is shown, but they may have done some earlier cars by request, or a owner in another part of the country saw this and had a local body shop do one:

                            http://home.comcast.net/~jdwain/Stude.remove.top.jpg



                            Dwain G.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've never seen one out here or anywhere, for that matter. Sure sounds like the conversion that started this thread.

                              Miscreant at large.

                              1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                              1960 Larkvertible V8
                              1958 Provincial wagon
                              1953 Commander coupe
                              1957 President 2-dr
                              1955 President State
                              1951 Champion Biz cpe
                              1963 Daytona project FS
                              No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

                              Comment

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