1953 was the introduction of Studebakers first entirely new body style since 1947. Surprisingly, the demand for the Loewy coupes, as they were called (after designer Raymond Loewy), outweighed the demand for the sedans 4 to 1! The 1953 Studebaker Loewy coupe was acclaimed numerous times as the most beautiful cars ever produced. Beautiful they were, but powerful, they were not. The 6-cyl Champion version was grotesquely underpowered, and the V-8 Commander was not exactly a muscle machine.
The 1953 bodyshell was one of the most widely used designs by Studebaker. Due to insufficient funds, Studebaker kept on using the basic 1953 coupe body on its Hawk series until 1964. The 1953 sedan body, albeit heavily modified throughout the years, was used until the demise of the company in 1966.
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