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1939 Studebaker Coupe Express Project

While not an absolute first, the 1937-39 Studebaker Coupe Express was one of the first pickups to be car-based; like the much later El Camino and Ranchero and in a similar fashion to Australian “utes”, a pickup bed was grafted onto a car front, center, and frame. Rare even when new, this 1939 model is being sold here on craigslist and is located in Springfield, Oregon. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending us this rare find! The asking price is $7,500.

I think this vehicle can best be described as a complete soup-to-nuts project. There are a lot of parts missing (unless there’s a lot of boxes somewhere) and locating parts for a truck where fewer than 1,200 were produced over 80 years ago will be more than somewhat difficult. What you do have, however, appears to be intact and not terribly rusty at first glance. The seller tells us that someone did a poor job of substituting a Chevy Nova front suspension in place of the original so I suspect this truck is best turned into a street rod. I did find pictures of a 1937 that has been rodded here and it admittedly makes a beautiful custom vehicle.

The mesh grilles on this nose appear different from the grilles I saw in pictures of 1939 Coupe Expresses; most seem to have the slotted grilles in the picture below.

The truck comes with two front ends, with the grilles visible in the front here being the ones I found while doing research. The seller tells us there is also an extra bed included, and it’s obvious from the other vehicles in the pictures that the truck is with a Studebaker enthusiast now. I wonder what the rest of the story is behind this rare pickup. Now — tell us what you would do with it in the comments below!


  1. Howard A Member

    This is a toughie. It’s not original enough for an original, and not hot rod enough to finish it out that way. This being the last year is noteworthy, and the earlier ones had a swoopier style, but this is pretty much just a Studebaker pickup, and most today will probably see it that way. Probably a lot of parts for this, as it shared the passenger car front, because it’s so rare, be a shame to turn it into a hot rod, but someone else today will more than likely think, it’s on it’s way already.

    Like 3
    • Todd Quigley

      I think I’d rat rod it. I agree with too far gone for a restoration. Do up the front suspension a bit better, swap in an inline 6 of some sort, install a windshield, clear coat over the patina, and drive it!

      Like 2
  2. glen

    I’ll never understand “soup to nuts”

    Like 3
    • Bellingham Fred

      Comedian Rip Taylor (Gong Show fame) was talking about his previous jobs. “I worked in the lunchroom at an insane asylum, I would serve soup to nuts”. I think one of those nuts escaped and tried to graft the Nova sub frame on this Stude.

      Like 19
      • glen

        thank you for that, it never made sense to me

        Like 2
    • AlanBob

      From Wikipedia:

      “Soup to nuts” is an American English idiom that conveys the meaning of “from beginning to end”. It is derived from the description of a full course dinner, in which courses progress from soup to a dessert of nuts.

      Like 6
    • John S.

      I never understood “rat rod”… Anyway… Let’s drop in a Packard straight 8 with twin carbs, dual exhaust and a T-5 trans. A nice highway gear with tall side-wall tires. Artillary wheels would fit the style of this unique hauler. Since the front frame is hacked, repair was wasn’t done right, rebuild the suspension with dropped spindles, disc brakes, etc. and lower the rear end to match. That body is a little rough around the bloomers area, but the effort to repair it close to original would pay off at the end of the project. I think maybe 2” chop would be slick, plus it would really P***- off the purists as an added bonus! Make the sheet metal glass smooth with a nice shiny dark color. (Maroon, Washington blue or dark emerald green) Now THAT would be a unique cruiser!

  3. Classic Steel

    Its Rough but future cool.
    I guess one could order 54 chev 3100 rear fenders and out on bed. Possibly 54 sides of bed ….

    351 Cleveland tied to a six speed manual…
    Gun metal smoked paint … or jet black with a nice deep stained bamboo wood bed inserts …
    Full seat stuffed leather etc….

    Like 3
  4. Troy s

    It’d be a major challenge, and I’m certain plenty of guys here have the talent, but when completed the old Studebaker would be unusual at any show or cruise. For the love, no other reason ($$$$).

    Like 4
  5. Husky

    I’m always in to a .318 Poly swap because, well yes because.

    However, this Studebaker need a different setup. What about a Jaguar
    XJ12 drive train, the twelve bore and stroked to 8 liter or so…

    Like 1
    • JagManBill

      funny you say that Husky…I was thinking an XK (6) engine would make it even more exotic. For practical, I’d go Ford 300.

      Like 1
      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Funny you would say that JagMan. I was thinking Jag XJ12 for exotic and a supercharged voodoo for practical. Great minds, huh! LOL
        I love cars…

  6. Steve R

    It would be pretty cool to build it as a retro style mid-50’s hot rod with a Studebaker V8 and some vintage speed equipment.

    Steve R

    Like 5
  7. chrlsful

    reminds me of the Hudson big boy and others of our 1st SUVs here state side (Henry’s T p/u). Oz sure went for them…
    Lub me a straight 8 of some kind in there, an AOD !

  8. Bob Shaw

    The headlamps, grille and bumper are 1940. The extra front clip with the spare tire well is a rarity. The Coupe Express is a fabulous vehicle in its stock body styling…whether taken back to original suspension and power or with a modern drivetrain. Personally, i’d opt for Studebaker 289 R2 supercharged power beneath that long hood!

    Like 10
  9. v

    what a great start of a truck its got a weekday front end and a weekend front end. . shouldnt take jeeves more than 15 minutes to put the weekend front end on. also with all the glass out you can head to the nearest demolition derby and really drive her . the metal on this truck should be 10 times thicker than todays cars

  10. johnj

    Caddy 500 and a th400

  11. Tom Thornburg

    I have a 39 coupe expresss. When I got it the chassis was rusted to the point it was not usable. I found a 39 Commander 4 dr that was in decent shape and used the chassis, and drivetrain. Easy swap, because that is what they were and the 39 commander will have tons of parts to help get the CE back to original. Worth the effort financially, which usually not the case in this old car world. The Commander is relatively easy to find. I even used the bottom half of the Commander front door, same size as the CE.

    • Tim A Boardman

      I have 4 new chrome hubs with Studebaker engraved in red for. 39 or 40 pick up. If your looking

      • Kermit Wilke

        how much for the four 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express hub caps?

  12. GohBec

    I have one of these in my dad’s old barn. Last driven in ‘67. Dad didn’t like the stock motor so upgraded to an 8 so he could blow around any Sunday driver at will. His best friend remarked about his driving habits and likened him to “being chased by the devil!” Only thingS missing are wipers and front grilles. Back bumper was modified to pulled more weight. Has dual spares and very little rust. Bed is in great condition.

    • Tom Thornburg

      So what are you going to do with this gem?

  13. Rebecca L Goh

    I’ve had visions of a rat rod but I don’t have time right now. Would consider letting it go with the stipulation that I get photos of what she becomes.

    • Mark Robinson

      Hi Rebecca,I couldn’t be further away geographically but I would dearly like to get hold of a coupe express to restore. We have a bit of family history with Studebakers form the 50’s. If you still have it and would consider selling it, lets talk. Regards

  14. Tom Thornburg

    I would like to know more about what condition the vehicle is in and pictures if you have some available. I am in the final stages of restoring a 39 Coupe Express and have kept it as original as possible. Please email me on my pm I think I would like to put together a hot rod next. Thanks

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