All Hail the 1937 Studebaker Dictator Coupe

Update 4/17/2018 – We accidentally doubled up on this one. Since both Todd and Brian did such great jobs writing it up, we decided to publish both of their posts. So if you’d like to see Brian’s take on this Studebaker, you can read his post here.

“Home,” “Change Case” button (which looks like Aa), “Sentence case.” In Microsoft Word, that’s how you can change ridiculous ALL CAPS postings into something comprehensible. While you’re there hit <F7> to launch the Spell-Checker as well, though it can’t fix run-on sentences and back-woods grammar. Once those barriers to sale are removed, we can evaluate the product. This 1937 Studebaker Dictator three-window coupe in Annandale, Minnesota awaits a new owner here on eBay after a lengthy tenure in the prior owner’s estate.

The rear bumper and lower trunk may have suffered the indignity of an abrupt introduction to a post or telephone pole. Otherwise the body’s shortcomings may be limited to surface rust. So why name a car the “Dictator?” By the end of World War I, many monarchs had become mere symbolic heads of state. Before Communism and Fascism took on the negative connotation we consider today, these forms of government garnered some interest and praise among Americans who admired their ideals of “power to the people,” walking hand-in-hand with the rising benefits of unions. Therefore the name “Dictator” suggested a powerful contemporary leader in 1937. Luckily the second world war broke out sometime before Studebaker continued this naming series or we might have be talking about the even more pretentious and historically embarrassing “Studebaker Fuhrer.”

On a newer used car this is the “money” picture that sellers often avoid. Wear on the driver’s seat bottom and bolsters can indicate rough treatment in other areas. In this case that wear is, well, nearly complete, and a decent picture of the dashboard might be more useful.

The flat head inline six cylinder engine is “non running and seems stuck.” The missing or broken rear spark plug can’t be a good sign. Like the rest of the car, the mechanical bits appear mostly original including the floor-shifted manual transmission, wheels, and original spare tire. This coupe would make a wicked hot rod, but for that I’d prefer a less complete starting point. The market will dictate this car’s value soon enough. Where do you think bidding will end on this handsome ’30s coupe?

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  1. 4504 Member

    At least the seller did not add an exclamation point (or 2, or 3) after every sentence. Crazy non p.c. name for a car, I love that. It appears to be a hit with the bidding sitting on around 14k and can only go up from there. THE DICTATOR! A 1937 vehicle, right around Hitler’s prime but if he owned it he would have had other issues to deal with, being dead within a decade being one of them, but until then you knew where he stood just by his car!

    • Dave Mc

      He had a direct line to Mercedes Benz.
      He loved his rides.

    • Pat Lamb

      I love the name too…

  2. 4504 Member

    Sorry, sitting at around $10.5k at this time, my error…

  3. Dave Mc

    I used to go to “Animal” on Saturday night
    Fun town back in the ’70’s.
    Russell’s and JJ’s if I remember correctly.

  4. PaatrickM

    April 15…$10,499.00. I don’t think this is a good buy. Today,s economy is dictating (no pun intended) something else to me. But, for those inclined, proceed.

  5. Gilles Lebrun

    It’s the car behind that interest me. The Ford Gran Torino 4 doors.

  6. Classic Steel

    I love ❤️ it! Classic body lines and big fenders too!
    Ironically seats are worn out on a dictatorship in hard times 😎

    Non PC name by today’s standards but in the day it was probably used to state “this sets the bar standards for all” as a challenge 😎

    Keep her original please!

  7. 61Vette

    Studebaker called the Dictator series that name as they said it dictated the direction of the automobile. Only years later did the name become unpopular when the likes of Hitler came into power.

  8. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    The dictator, it would be hard to believe that this was in command of the road, as the name implies. All it has is that little four banger under the hood. I’d be inclined to resto mod this car with maybe a Ford flat head v8. I’d also upgrade to some power disc brakes. At least on the front. I’d put a Ford 9″ rear axle in the back.and a Ford transmission. The rest I’d leave in stock form with a cream coloured body and emerald green fenders. The interior I would go with char coal grey and leather seats.

    • GearHead Engineering

      Canadian Mark,

      It’s actually a six under the hood. Apparently stuck though, so a repower might be in order.

      – John

    • 61Vette

      The Dictator had a six cylinder engine, not a four.

      • ccrvtt

        I think Mark may be correct as this 6 has two missing spark plugs and has been converted to a 4.

    • Jim Marston

      The engine was a 217cid in-line six not a 4banger ,That engine had plenty of torque to compete with Ford ,Chevrolet,and Plymouth- Dodge in its day . My Father purchased a new 1937 coupe in Albany Ga in 1937 . He always was pleased about it’s performance.

  9. Jamie Pawlicki

    I’m more interested in the Torino next to this

  10. On and On

    Art Deco on wheels but I always thought the rear window on these looked up-side-down.

  11. Big Mike

    Bidding already up over $11K with a couple of days left, which seems a bit surprising, given the condition. Neat looking car though.

  12. Cristian

    The rear window would not open an a 37 Dictator. The 36 version could be popped out as well as having a rumble seat. Indees art deco on wheels – the line are pure beaty. Not very interested in pre – war cars but the lines of the 37 Dictator – this model with its intrinsec beaty can still be had for a decent price. And in roughly 19 years she will hit 100.

    Inam curious if it has the overdrive transmission – that would have been a nice touch.

  13. Bob C.

    Studebaker also made a Coupe Express between 1937 and 1939. They used the Dictators front sheet metal with a pickup bed. Kind of a pre El Camino or Ranchero.

  14. Jim Benjaminson

    Other Studebaker model names were President and Commander…..

  15. Beatnik Bedouin

    This is a fairly rare piece in 2018, especially being a coupe (cool!). Price is going to be dictated (pun intended) by its rarity and body style.

    It should be possible to repower this one with a postwar Studie flathead six, which the company used into the early 1960s. This example would make a nice restoration project for somebody.

    • Jim Marston

      I believe it should be restored as original, if not a late fifties Commander Six with an overdrive trans would be Great ! IMO 👈🏻 HUMBLE

  16. 123pugsy

    Lengthen the doors, and turn the back window over, and you may have the start of a nice hot rod there.

  17. Del

    Very rare car

    Body in good shape

    Doubt if buyer will atempt resto

    This will make one darn good looking Rod

  18. Ron

    Believe what you want, like what you want, those of us that have dedicated many years to Studebaker know its real value, its rarety, and it’s beautiful lines.And a properly restored engine is not a chore and not under rated for this car.This car done right can present itself as well as anything at Pebble Beach. It appears a very sound example and will bring a very good price to the right Studebaker Owner. Wish I were able to own it though it is beyond my budget

  19. Rustytech

    Though I like the idea of doing a OEM restoration, I think this will likely become a restomod or streetrod, that is the only way one might come close to recouping the restoration cost.

  20. Dave brennan

    Have seen the rod version at Adirondack Nationals and local shows. Spectacular car if done right!

  21. Gaspumpchas

    up to 12k…like the guys said v8 power maybe a 283 or caddy or nail head buick..sweet styling!!!

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