Rare But Needy: 1958 Studebaker Commander

Commander front 3

Reader Mike F. suggested we feature this 1958 Studebaker Commander hardtop he found for sale in Oklahoma City here on craigslist recently. Despite its rough condition, I can’t help liking this car and the $900 asking price. This was a pretty rare model – only 2555 Commander Series 58B hardtops were sold in 1958, and given these cars’ propensity for rust, there are doubtless very few of them around anymore.

Commander reaar 3

So despite the fact that this example needs just about everything to be brought back to life, it looks somewhat complete, and even if the floors need to be replaced, at the low asking price of $900, this could be a candidate for restoration.

Commander engine

Or it could just be used for parts to get another Studie back on the road. The seller does say the car is complete, and includes paperwork, I think from the original owner, though the ad does not give any history on the car. The seller is anxious to move it – he is asking for offers and trades.

Commander side

1958 was the year that two independent car manufacturers with long histories, Studebaker and Packard, merged to form a single company. Unfortunately, as has been written about in detail by many historians, this merger was doomed to fail. The decision to rebadge Studebakers as Packards was not a good one, and Packard sales fell off the table fairly quickly.

Commander front

Studebaker did manage to survive a few more years after introducing the Lark in 1959, but ended up making its last cars in 1966. While parts for this model are not abundant, there is a terrific owner’s organization, the Studebaker Driver’s Club, which includes many active members who can assist with Studebaker restoration and repair projects, and since this car’s drivetrain was built for a number of years, at least mechanical parts are readily available.

Commander interior

So is this car worth salvaging?  That interior looks terrible, but the body might just be OK. Can it be restored or rodded, or is this just a parts car now?

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Comments

  1. Jim Mc

    There’s a LOT of WTF about this car. Rubber chicken hanging from the door, the chrome looks shiny but the rest of the body has….um, patina, and what’s with the tinfoil on the seat?! I want the car, not the weird ghosts that might come with it.

    That said, for as rare as it is, $900 (obo)? is fair. Problem is that restoring it will never recoup anywhere in the near future. I love the styling and it would make a great street rod but the purists, because of its rarity, would howl.

    But wow, an orig ’58 two door of ANY kind with fins, dual headlights, V8 even w/auto (looks like, can’t tell for sure), rare as heck, for $900? Nice find.

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  2. Mr. TKD

    You certainly wouldn’t see yourself coming and going. I like it.

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  3. packrat

    There was a 58 Studebaker President in two tone blue on a Car lot near Donelson, TN in the 80’s that i looked at as a broke teenager. I was a member of the SDC then (and for about twenty years) very good club.

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  4. Jonathan

    I love the nacelles added to the front fenders to allow for the dual headlights. Why waste all those fenders just because the market deemed dual headlights were de rigueur for 1958?

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    • Rob

      Those headlights tacked on are this car’s downfall imho. How terrible. I thought Chevy was bad with it year-to-year body changes, but pieces added on to change the shape!? Yuck…

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      • Ed P

        Agreed. The way the headlights are grafted on was not a highpoint in style.

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  5. Mork from Ork

    The tinfoil seatcovers are to protect you from our alien overlords!

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  6. Rick

    Always liked the bathroom scale-type speedo that Studes of this vintage had. Only 2555 Hardtops built, explains why I’ve never seen one of this model. Bet it was peppy to drive when new new with that big 4bbl. Whenever I see a Stude, makes me think of when I was a kid in the 60s, and my mom drove a 62 Lark 4 dr that I did not like, was too much like a Rambler, which was brand I hated Anyhow, I was a car freak then and would always duck down and if I was riding somewhere in the Lark and saw one of my classmates.

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  7. 64 bonneville

    Yes the car I an automatic. The Studebaker Driver Cub are ok regular car guys, just with a penchant for Studebakers. They don’t get all bent out of shape if you modify a Stud Buster, like some of the Packard guys do. Although many Packard guys don’t want to recognized the bastardfication of the Packard by Studebaker. They will tolerate them, though. When I fist saw this car, from the 3/4 rear view, it reminded me of Chrysler products from about 57-58, looking at the roof line. If you are into 50s’ fins and flash this is the car for you, real cheap at this price.

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  8. Ed P

    The seller seems quite reasonable about the price and is inviting questions. For a Stude of this era, there is very little rust. As a two door hardtop, this should be a desirable car for a Stude fan. Somebody, save this car.

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  9. RON

    RARE CAR. LOVE THE 58 PRESIDENTS AND COMMANDERS 4 DOOR OR HARDTOP. WOULD BE MINE QUICKLY WERE IT NOT SO FAR AWAY. BEEN AN SDC MEMBER OVER 25 YEARS AND THAT IS WHY I LIKE IT. THERE IS A PLACE FOR EVERY ONE. THE MOST ACCEPTING CLUB OUT THERE. TERE ARE MULTIE CLASSIFCATIONS WE JUST LKR THEM SAVED. INCIDENTLY THE MERGER WITH PACKARD OCCURRED IN 54 NOT 58. EVEN THOUGH THE PACKARD PRODUCTION IN 58 THE NAME REMAINED ON THE VIN TAGS UNTILL ABOUT 63 AS STUDEBAKER-PACKARD. THERE IS THE FALLACY ALSO THAT THE AVANTI WAS BUILT IN CANADA WHICH IS NOT TRUE EITHER. THE ONLY YEARS THAT STUDES WERE EXCLUSIVELY MADE IN CANADA WAS 65-66 AND WERE POWERED “McKINNON” ENGINES WHICH WERE 283 CHEVY V/8 AND 199 CI INLINE 6 CYL.. MUCH FUN WAS MADE OF THE KERMIT THE FROG GREEN ONES, BUT THERE ARE A FEW OF US STILL AROUND THAT HAVE TAKEN “THE STARCHOUT” OF THE JEANS F A FEW BIG 3 NON BELIEVERS ON A SATURDAY NIGHT

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  10. Vince Habel

    Ron

    The six was a 194. The 230 was available in 66. This 58 would have a 259. There is no better place for support than SDC. I have been a member since 1969.

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  11. charlie

    And at some point you could get a Paxton supercharger fit to this engine, as an option, and then it would really go..

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  12. Mike

    I was thinking the tinfoil on the seats might have been (are you ready for this)
    Heated seats!!!!!!! Get it!!!!!!

    I thought it was funny 🙂

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  13. Mike

    one thing I do remember about some Studes, was they were easy to find the oil filter, they stuck out right in front of you.

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  14. Paul B

    Studebaker’s saddest year ever, comical and tragic all at once. No money for anything, everything quite literally tacked onto the 1953 body to try to stay competitive. How they funded the one-year-only hardtop roof no one knows. Harold Churchill’s gambit was to make it through ’58 somehow and bring out the Lark in ’59. It worked, temporarily. Studebaker did advertise the hardtop a little, mostly the President version, and these Commanders are indeed quite rare. This appears a good restoration candidate for someone with Studebaker knowledge.

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  15. Jeff H

    Someone has to save this car. No Studebaker should be allowed to rot away. My Dad had a ’48 Champion Starlight coupe, a ’52 Champion Starlight Coupe, and a ’56 Champion 4 door. I wanted him to buy a Hawk in ’56 and a Lark in ’61, he bought a Ford instead.

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