40,000-mile Survivor! 1951 Studebaker Champion

Originally introduced for the 1939 model year, the Studebaker Champion was an exercise in the “lighter is better” school of thought. Coupled with the low base price it proved to be a sales success for the ailing company, and was Studebaker’s best-selling model for almost its entire production run. Lasting five generations, finally ending production in 1958, you can bid on this third-generation 1951 model here on eBay, where the current bid at time of writing is just $6,500.

This is a member of the best and most exclusive category of classic cars: original, unrestored survivor. The seller gives a detailed story, but the highlights are this is a three-owner car including the seller. The first owner owned it for what sounds like the entire second half of the twentieth century, and the first third of the twenty-first. It’s a well-loved and cared for coupe, and it shows. Just about the only wear and tear on the entire car is on the driver’s seat and door panel. The seller provides two extensive photo albums of the car, including multiple interior shots, so if you want a more detailed look, I highly encourage you to check this listing out. This is a true time capsule.

The engine is similarly well-kept. Just about the only new thing visible is a fresh battery. Studebaker offered a V-8 on the Champion for the first time in 1951, but this model has the base six. The 2.7-liter inline-six drives the rear wheels through column shifted manual. While you might miss those extra two cylinders if you’re into the hot-rodding scene, there’s something special about keeping a seventy-year-old car as untouched as possible. And, honestly, you don’t need more than the 85 horsepower produced by the six. Its light weight meant that you got close to 30 miles to the gallon, too, so this car is perfect for just cruising around.

Underneath, you aren’t going to find any rust. Not that it would be a big deal if you did, at the $6,500 price point, this Studebaker is a perfect first classic car for people to get into the hobby; or even a good driver for someone who wants to expand their collection with a good midsize American coupe. The aftermarket support for this isn’t as great as something like the ‘57 Bel Air, but isn’t exactly nonexistent, either, so you’re not going to have trouble finding parts for it.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    These are cool cars. It’s also one of the few that looks better without the front bumper.

    Like 4
    • Fred W

      Wow- never noticed before just how far out the front bumper is from the body. Shades of 1974! These truly look great with no bumper and holes filled in.

      Like 6
  2. Fozzie Bear

    This one’s for me…….”A bear in his natural habitat…a Studebaker”.

  3. Joe Haska

    It hasn’t been that long ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead with this car. WOW ,times have changed and so have I. I would love to have this car and I wouldn’t change a thing ,just drive it and fix the little things.

  4. Nsuracer

    Ben, The Champion never had a V8. They were called Commanders.

    Like 8
  5. Bob Mck Member

    Very cool find.

    Like 2
  6. Bob Mck Member

    Very cool find.

    Like 2
  7. Vince H

    Engine size in liters is totally uncool for a old car like this. 169 cubic inches.

  8. smokeymotors

    I own this thing if I had the room, it may be slow, but it sure is ugly!, not really ever hear about the orphan shows? there al the makes that arent made any more, baker shows are good too!

  9. Mike B

    In the late 1950s, my dad bought a used 1950 tan Champion for my mom to run errands in. As a grade-schooler, I loved its bullet nose. My mom’s best friend drove a green ‘49 Champion.

  10. Chuck Simons

    I open up the email and my heart jumps, then drops to see it so far away. Maybe worth the trip from California. Maybe a Steinbeck trip around the country in a Stude instead of a pu. Fozzie would approve.

    Like 5
  11. Stephen

    Beautiful car. Looks a little bit like a Tucker.

    • Johnny C.

      ? Not at all…

      • Stephen

        You obviously are not familiar with Tucker automobiles.

  12. Rob L Member

    Back in the late ’70s, a 1950 broke down in front of the business I worked at. I bought the car with a badly knocking rod bearing on the spot. for $100.00. Finding parts was difficult and I started swapping a small block. The engine swap was beyond my skill level at the time and my father sold the car to a scrapper one day. the right car at the wrong time I wish I had it back.

  13. Seabecker

    I really think this is a beautiful car. And it appears very original. Studebakers have never really experienced the love of so many other marques. True, for many Studebakers are like coffee: an acquired taste. My dad was a Studebaker enthusiast so I must have inherited that. If you are ever near South Bend, Indiana, the Studebaker museum is definitely worth the stop. If I had room I would be very tempted on this one.

    Like 5
  14. Allen Member

    40,000 miles? Look at the steering wheel, the brake pedal pad, the wear on the door card. Original paint? Look at the door jambs. Is that overspray on the passenger-side door sill? Also have a look at the fit of the trunk lid – particularly on the passenger side.

    These cars typically rusted severely in front of the A pillars – into the areas around the fresh air vents. What’s been done on the drivers side vent?

    Are the radiator fan blades supposed to be bent like that? The wiring is a strange combination of apparently original and some later replacements. ‘ Wonder what became of the original starter button under the clutch.

    I will concede that this might be a very nice car and that some deterioration is to be expected over 70 years, but my guess is that there are some untold stories here. ‘ Think I’ll pass on this one.

    Like 1
  15. Jaye Jackson

    In 1962 I inherited a 51’ Studebaker four door, color was mouse gray! My brother had a real thing for the brand! When he bought a two door sport model, the four door came my way! Having just turned 16 I drove it to High School in South Florida, what a tank, rolled it three times over and hit a Palm Tree, the roof got bent down windows broke, no seat belts! It started right up and I drove it home! No injuries, I must say the steel used in the Stude must have been at least 1/8 “ thick! Like they say “It took a lick and kept on Ticking” Thank you, Mr. Mouse!

  16. DavidL Member

    I love this car. Brings back so many memories. Used to regard them as a bit of a joke but have grown to appreciate their design as an icon of the period.
    As a kid there was an old guy (probably my age now) who had one but had never learned the importance of shifting out of first gear. I remember hearing him coming at least a long block away.
    H

  17. BigDoc987

    I always loved this Studebakers that front end was so cool.

    Like 1
  18. AnthonyD

    I’m afraid to tell my wife that I have fallen in love with a Studebaker! This car is very tempting at $6500.

    Like 1
  19. Alexander KRESS Member

    We always had a Studebaker at the house. My father was very friendly
    with the Studebaker dealer. We even had Studebaker trucks with 12 to
    14 ft truck bodies on them that would be similar to a Ford F-500. Great
    line of vehicles and sorry to see them go.

  20. Guggie 13

    My Mom had one of these a 1950 , I remember the dash being quite different ,round gauges ,
    it got traded for a 1953 Starlight , cool cars , both had the 6 with OD , and got 30 + mpg

  21. chrlsful

    I think the bumper looks that way due to fish eye lens and angel of camera. It duz stick out more than we’d like (today). We’d remove the panel (horizontal) & french it.
    Once U C the starlight coup hay, commander starlight, champion starlight whatever (all my age, born early 50s) U never forget (bullet nose). Like to C one w/a propeller on there. May B a wind up key on the back?
    Long rear deck (huge trunk) and those split rear windshields? Just great cars. Had nightmares when cash for clunkers came (1960/6 ranch & these goin inta da crusher? WoW it wuz scary).

    • DavidL Member

      They did sell propellers for them. I remember seeing a couple “back in the day”.

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