Affordable ‘Stude: 1956 Studebaker Commander

A solid, original condition car for a reasonable price is always hard to pass up. Even more so when it has a great appearance, and 2 doors. This ’56 Commander has an excellent curb appeal with its black on red paint scheme, with a dash of patina to show it has survived its life in the wild. Not currently running from sitting a while, I would be willing to bet that with a little time, and fuel, this Studebaker would fire off on all cylinders. This great looking machine is offered at $2,700. Find it here on craigslist out of San Antonio, Texas.

The black over red paint scheme has such an alluring appeal with its vintage yet, “hot rod” like appeal. Still illuminating a low glow from the paints finish, there is some patina that adds to this Studebakers charm. There is some wear to the paint on the roof, and on the passenger side front fender. Also there are a few thin spots on the driver side front and rear fenders. There are no engine bay photos, or interior photos, but peeking through the glass, there appears to be no catastrophic issues with the interior. Powered by a 259 cubic inch V8 and an automatic transmission, this Commander would make for a nice driver after some work. Currently not running it is clear that this Studebaker has been sitting a while, and likely needs the “whole 9 yards” when it comes to its mechanical systems.

Overall the body is straight with no rot present. The rear bumper is missing which is a bit of a letdown, but if that is all that is missing, I guess I can’t complain too much. I would seek out a rear bumper, and hope to find one with a matching patina to the car. With a great appearance I think all this Studebaker needs is so be revived and street worthy, with a rear bumper, some hub caps. With all of that, this would be a great driving original, on the cheap. Would you pick up this affordable Studebaker?


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  1. Andy

    Too bad it’s a two door. I guess that’s OK, if you only have one friend…

    • Jim Mc

      Regarding that friend, as long as she’s built like this Stude, I’m ok with that. 😉

    • kman

      I have plenty of friends and have never owned a four door car.

  2. Wayne

    I can’t understand the problem you yanks have with 4 door cars. 4 doors are more practical and in most cases a much better profile. Or is it that you yanks couldn’t afford a 4 door car when they were new, and you aren’t big enough to admit it. 4 doors 4 ever.

    • packrat

      I have heard this inverse passion for 4drs from another Brit (I assume because of ‘you yanks’. Was/is a 4dr car that much more in the UK, that it is perceived as a status symbol and remains one beyond its first owner? (Disclaimer; I have always owned 4dr examples, because of their quicker depreciation in the U.S., and a decent dash of ‘I couldn’t care less’)

  3. Wayne

    4 door cars are dearer in every country.

    • packrat

      –At least in the U.S. when I was growing up, not after the first owner. After a few years there would be a noticeable cost difference between the two, and it was far easier to find twelve year old four door examples of cars in nice condition rather than two door examples. Someone had almost always beaten a bit on the two door versions first. Pitted aftermarket wheels, insignificant chrome bits under the hood, battered front valance metal under the bumper. Strange clanking in the driveline and the deep scratches and frame snags underneath seemed to go together. Four door station wagons at the bottom of the price list, even though they were ostensibly more ‘practical’ at hauling anything you needed to move. Four door sedans were more likely to come through the grapevine from one owner, maybe female, maybe retiree–perhaps led a quieter life.

  4. Ck

    I think its kool ,It looks black and orange to me.First I’d try and get it to run and stop .Then a set of new tires and some Baby Moons,find a bumper, slap the old HD bar and shield on the back window and drive it.If she wont run yank the motor and trans ,replace with a SBC and a turbo 350 .(I just hapen to have both in my garage ) Then rinse and repeat step B.

  5. Ralph Terhune

    The worst thing you could ever do is install a SBC and GM auto in anything but a GM car. Boring!!!

  6. Paul B

    A gem. Fix up that wonderful 259, rebuild the Borg Warner automatic, brake system, fuel system, check the electrics and go through the suspension and exhaust for safety, and off you go in search of a rear bumper. the period colors are absolutely great. Do not put in an SBC, the Studebaker engine is great with a unique sound and both rebuild parts and whole engines are plentiful.

  7. Fred W.

    The 4 door vs 2 door thing goes back to high school for most of us. Mom and dad generally were not cool and had a 4 door sedan or wagon and many of us had to drive it to school in shame until we could get something of our own. 2 doors was a sign of independence and coolness and some of us never quite got over that. The stigma still exists at car shows and with telltale resale values.

  8. Joe Haska

    Its a FACT, you can argue all day and you can buy all the 4-doors you want, but they will always be worth-less, and harder to sell. Just look at the numbers, its simple math.
    Signed, President 4-door Haters cCub

  9. Trickie Dickie Member

    Hmmmmmmmm, troubling. Why does the owner find it necessary to put a block under the rear tire. Something important doesn’t work? hmmmmm

  10. RicK

    Am I the only one that thinks the colors are PINK and Black?

  11. Ed P

    I think Studebaker had great styling in the mid 50’s. It is a shame they were having so much financial trouble causing buyers to stay away.

  12. 68 custom

    4 doors equal family car while 2 door cars equal sporty cars. as for the SBC swap as a Chevy guy I would never get rid of a Studebaker V8 in lieu of a SBC just rebuild and add a paxton blower. for inspiration just Google Red Tomato Studebaker!

  13. Rustytech Member

    Two door car’s especially hard tops we’re always in the minority among new cars sold, and because they were “sporty” usually got harder use. Therefore there are fewer left today. While rare doesn’t necessarily mean more valuable, I think many want them because they bring back memories of their youth. I must admit I have fallen victim to that thought process in the past. The upside is, while a given example of a 2 door may sell for $30 to $40k the same model in a 4 door can be had for $10 to $15k. For those of us not blessed with unlimited cash flow, and who are old enough that our friends don’t find it easy to climb over seats to get in the back the are the perfect classic car.

  14. Joe Muzy

    Parts are easy to find especially if you join Studebaker Drivers Club. They have a great forum for needed parts. The bumper should be easy to find

  15. Howard A Member

    2 doors had little, if anything, to do with being cool back then. They were for parents that didn’t want their kids falling out the back doors on a 4 door. ( most back windows on 2 doors only went half way down for the same reason) Everybody knows someone, or themselves that happened to.

  16. Rustytech Member

    Yep. Been there, done that! Still all my father bought were 4 doors or wagons.

  17. Bill McCoskey

    I find it interesting that the subject of 2 doors Vs 4 doors came up in a Studebaker thread. Why is that you ask?

    First off, back then a manufacturer had to plan 6 months of parts inventory in advance, as it took that long for stuff to be manufactured and delivered. They had to schedule everything, right down to the last nut & bolt, to arrive for specific numbers of certain cars being built.

    Well Studebaker, like most automobile companies in the post war era, sold 80% 4-doors to 20% 2-doors. When they came out with that gorgeous 1953 model line-up, As expected Studebaker built, then sent, 80% of the production run out to dealers as . . . you guessed it . . . 4-door sedans.

    However the orders were piling in all over the country for exactly the opposite. Those 2-door sedans and 2-door Starlite Coupes [hardtops] were in such high demand that Studebaker was unable to supply more than a fraction of the ordered cars, while the sedans sat untouched on dealer lots.

    Studebaker was unable to make the production changes until near the end of the ’53 model year run, and when buyers couldn’t get the coupe they ordered, they bought a new car from GM, MOPAR, FoMoCo, or the independent manufacturers.

  18. Bob C.

    Howard, that was EXACTLY my dad’s excuse for buying coupes when we were kids. Child safety.

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