1955 Studebaker Commander news, pictures, specifications, and information
The Studebaker was founded in 1852 in South Bend, Indiana. Their original success was in making wheelbarrows for the California Gold Rush followed by supplying wagons to the Union Army in the Civil War. After a fire in 1874 destroyed their factory, they built a new brick factory covering 20 acres which became 'the largest vehicle house in the world.' Some of their carriages could cost up to $20,000.
Studebaker entered the automotive business in 1902 with electric vehicles and in 1904 with gasoline vehicles, all sold under the name 'Studebaker Automobile Company.' They operated in partnership with the EMF and Superior Coach Companies until the first gasoline cars manufactured exclusively by Studebaker were introduced in 1912.
Over the next five decades, the company established a reputation for quality and reliability. The last Studebaker car rolled off the line in 1966.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing (off and on) through the 1960s, Studebaker used the Commander name. The 1955 model was the mid-level entry in the line priced from $1,870 to $2,455. The cars weighed 3,060 pounds were powered by a 224 cubic-inch V8 producing 140 horsepower.
Sold for $22,000 at 2016 Mecum
Sold for $66,000 at 2017 Barrett-Jackson
Bob Bourke of Raymond Loewy's Loewy Associates studio designed a distinctive new coupe in 1953. It was well received by Studebaker management and was immediately slated for production. The new Commander series was billed by Studebaker as 'European', and unlike any other vehicle on the road. The vehicle's most distinguishing feature was its 'clam digger' front end treatment. Over the next two years, the design evolved, and in 1955 the Commander was given a chromed single-opening grille with integrated signal lights above a full width chromed bumper.
After disappointing sales figures, Studebaker management added more powerful engines in hopes of stimulating sales. The Commander's 'Passmaster' 259 CI V-8 engine was given a boost resulting in 165 horsepower, which could be raised to 185 BHP with the optional 'High Power Kit' that consisted of a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust.
This Studebaker Commander Regal Starliner has new paint, chrome and stainless steel. It rides on wire wheels. Power is from a 259 cubic-inch engine fitted with an automatic gearbox.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2016
The Commander was Studebaker's middle of the line model. This particular car is a 1955 model, but was built in November, 1954. Cars built after 1/1/1955 had a wrap-around windshield with a nearly-vertical A pillar.
This car was awarded a First Place Plague at the 1992 Antique Automobile Club of America National Show.
The Studebaker Commander was produced for several years, representing several bodystyle changes, and first appeared in the 1920s. The company would continue to use the name until their demise in 1966. There were only a few years where the Commander did not appear in Studebaker's line-up during that time; those were in 1936 and 1959-1963.
When the name first appeared in 1927, it was Studebaker's middle-series. As the years progress, it would move up and down market, often changing positions from year to year. The name would continue until it was dropped in 1935, only to reappear in 1937 where it served as the company's least expensive model, taking the place of the previous Studebaker Dictator. The company had decided to do away with the 'Dictator' name, due to the negative political connectors associated with the name. Mainly, Adolf Hitler in Germany had tainted the word 'dictator.'
The Commander moved up-market in 1939 when Studebaker introduced the Champion model. After the Second World War, Studebaker dropped its President moniker, and repositioned the Commander in its place. At the same time, Studebaker introduced an extended wheelbase model known as the Land Cruiser.
The President name reappeared in 1955; the President model became the premium model range and the Commander was demoted to the mid-range model. The name would continue until 1958 and reappear in 1963 for the 1964 model range. It was positioned next to the lowest-priced Lark model and above the entry-level Challenger model.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008
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