BF Auction: 1954 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe

Bid to: $15,500View Result

Custom builds take many forms, from mild to wild. Some owners follow a fairly subtle path, providing few clues that their pride and joy is anything but ordinary. That is the case with this 1954 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe Resto Rod. The chrome wheels and Baby Moon hubcaps provide the only hint that this is not your average Studebaker. However, delving below the surface reveals a classic offering enough performance to satisfy most enthusiasts. The owner committed plenty of time and money to this custom build but feels the time is right for it to find a new home. Therefore, he has listed it exclusively at Barn Finds Auctions.

The owner purchased this Studebaker seven years ago, commencing the build process by ensuring the vehicle was rust-free. With the panels as straight as an arrow, he applied a classy combination of Baby Blue paint with Dark Blue highlights. It accentuates the Studebaker’s natural long and low lines and is a winner in my book. The paint retains a beautiful depth of shine, reflecting its surroundings like a mirror. I can’t spot any flaws or defects in the supplied photos, meaning this Coupe will attract admiring looks for the right reasons. The trim sparkles as impressively as the paint, while the glass is flawless. The wider chrome wheels and Baby Moon hubcaps suggest there might be more to this classic than meets the eye.

This Studebaker would have rolled off the line powered by the company’s 232ci V8 delivering 127hp. That offered acceptable performance in its day, but the owner wished to extract more from his project build. Therefore, the original V8 was consigned to the pages of history, with a 350ci Chevrolet Stroker V8 taking its place. The small-block places 375hp under the driver’s right foot, which feeds to the road via a three-speed automatic transmission. After channeling the frog frame, he added a Jaguar rack-and-pinion front end with power steering and disc brakes. Common sense prevails in this build, with an aluminum radiator ensuring the small-block stays as cool as a cucumber. Considering this classic weighs a mere 3,700 lbs and has three times the power it possessed when new, you can be sure it lives up to the owner’s claim that it is really fast. This turnkey gem should provide enough performance to satisfy the most hardened enthusiast.

The owner tackled this build as a total package, meaning its interior received as much attention as the rest of the vehicle. It retains the beautiful machine-turned dash, adding an upgraded CD stereo for tunes on the move. The seats feature two-tone Blue covers that mimic the exterior paint combination, with the remaining upholstered surfaces and headliner trimmed to match. There is no evidence of wear or damage, meaning the inside of this classic should receive as many positive comments and admiring glances as the rest of the vehicle. It needs nothing, and the leather-wrapped Grant tilt wheel improves comfort, allowing the driver to tailor the seating position to their needs.

Sometimes subtlety is the key to creating a genuinely great custom build. Following a path with outlandish paint shades and wild wheels has its place, and many people admire that approach. This owner elected something more restrained, meaning the car can blend into the background when required, but will draw attention and admiring comments when the winning bidder feels it is appropriate. The ready supply of genuine Studebaker mechanical parts isn’t exhausted, but they are becoming more difficult and expensive to source. This 1954 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe retains its original charm and a bulletproof mechanical configuration where parts supplies are guaranteed. If that sounds irresistible, dropping a bid or two could be the first step in parking this fantastic car in your garage.

  • Location: Redondo Beach, California
  • Mileage: 34,501 Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 350ci V8
  • Transmission: 3-Speed Automatic
  • VIN: 5HK51664
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Auction

High Bid: $15,500 (Reserve Not Met)
Ended: Jun 22, 2023 10:00am MDT
High Bidder: mainlymuscle
  • mainlymuscle
    bid $15,500.00  2023-06-22 09:42:58
  • udtfrog2 bid $15,000.00  2023-06-16 08:34:28
  • mainlymuscle bid $10,000.00  2023-06-15 07:55:20
  • JimmyG
    bid $3,500.00  2023-06-15 05:35:20
  • Jonar bid $3,000.00  2023-06-14 22:07:12
  • casimonsjr bid $1,850.00  2023-06-14 17:52:57
  • Iceman
    bid $1,750.00  2023-06-14 15:12:50
  • craig bid $500.00  2023-06-14 12:10:11

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Having a somewhat jaundiced eye after seeing more than a few Hawk-era Studebakers languishing in backyards, some barely moving down the local highways of our area, and some “arrested decay” models at local car shows this one stands out as what many of those ought to become. What a beauty.

    Like 8

    Appears to be a hardtop Starliner, not a Starlight?
    Can’t go with the paint scheme but a beautiful car nonetheless.

    Like 9
  3. Chad CranfillMember

    What transmission is connected to the engine? I can’t imagine the original transmission could take the torque of the Chevy engine.

    Like 4
  4. TheOldRanger

    Now this is a Studebaker I really like and I remember these as a 12 year old.

    Like 6
    • Glemon

      I have always liked the style of these Studebakers, which I think were way ahead of their time. I also like the restrained build of the restomod. I would like to see if you could build one to handle well as well as go, and have neat little GT Coupe.

      Like 1
  5. skody54Member

    Oh love this car. The paint not so much. The largest miss is no a/c. In this day and age why do Builders do this.? If they can tackle a Jag front they shouldbe able to manage that.

    Like 10
  6. Bunky

    Nice car. Jury is still out on the color combo. 🤔 Too bad it’s got a belly button engine (everybody’s got one) instead of Studebaker power.

    Like 11
    • MikeG.

      Amen Bunky !!! This Starliner needs Studebaker
      Or perhaps late model Packard power. Chevrolet power dilutes it’s inherent beauty and charm.

      Like 9
  7. BlondeUXBMember

    Just the most timeless design and a hardtop at that.
    My only tweak might be to loose the front bumperetts…

    Like 3
    • Rick

      I’d also l-o-s-e the bumperettes and the SBC and go with an original Studebaker V8.

      Like 4
      • BlondeUXBMember

        Autocorrect, spellcheck ?
        I need AI…

        Like 1
  8. Vibhic

    An already beautiful car design needs no paint scheme to accentuate the lines. I see this so many times. A car owner thinking they have a better idea. Not everyone is a visionary. On the flip side, kudos to the owner for taking on this project to completion.

    Like 1
    • Karl

      Very interesting car and looks great. Ad mentions it’s a 350 stroker? Is it a 383 or is it something that was bored and stroked to 350 ci ?

      Like 1
  9. eric22t

    i actually like the way he did the 2-tone.
    though i would have figured out a hot rod studie motor

    Like 2
  10. Steve Mehl

    Quite a gem in many ways. The color combo might look a lot better in person than in the photos, hopefully. But overall, a great job by the owner. I would think this baby will command a fairly high price. I think the styling is one of the best looking for cars from the 1950’s.
    As far as adding AC, I can recall as an 8 yr old kid driving thru Kansas in 1956 in our new 1956 gray and white Pontiac on the way to visit a relative in Denver but having no AC and stripping down to underpants to survive the unbearable heat. So yes, to the suggestion that resto cars need AC.

    Like 3
  11. Robt

    I’ve always loved these set up for running speed trials on dry lakes.

    Like 0
  12. Robert HagedornMember

    Getting 375hp from a 350ci is quite an accomplishment.

    Like 1
    • Bda60

      Based on the dash it appears to be a Champion and not a commander, but either way a nice resto-rod Stude conversion. GLWTA, curious to see what it brings!

      Like 0
      • Poppy

        The dash is from a later Hawk – Not from either a Commander or Champion. The 5H in the body tag indicates ’54 Commander (i.e. V-8).

        Like 0
      • Joe

        Nice car, but not a fan of the paint color Note ! it’s a hardtop not the coupe and it’s sporting a Studebaker hawk dash.

        Like 0
  13. BigDaddyBonz

    Nice car but it needs a different paint scheme and engine. Get an imagination.

    Like 2
  14. Fred W

    As the owner of a restored ’62 GT Hawk, my idea for the powerplant would have been to use a supercharged engine- either a Packard Golden Hawk engine (372) or a ’64 289 R2 motor. My 289 without a blower seems to have enough torque to pull a semi up Mt. Everest in 4th.
    Color wise, these are great in a simple red with white roof, and several other schemes I’ve seen , or just one dark color which accents the lines. An identical car was my introduction to Studebaker in the 70’s, as a teenager I got tired of sanding it and abandoned ship. WIsh I had persevered!

    Like 0
    • Bda60

      Based on the dash it appears to be a Champion and not a Commander, but either way a nice resto-rod Stude conversion. GLWTA, curious to see what it brings!

      Like 0
      • winesmith

        Didn’t know they made a Champion hardtop?
        The ’55 Speedster also had an engin turned dash.

        Like 0
      • Joe

        Champion means the car was a 6 cylinder equipped car and the Commander was the 8 cylinder equipped version , had nothing to do with it being a coupe or hardtop. This car someone has installed a later hawk dash ! they just bolt in so easy swap.

        Like 0
      • winesmith

        Good to know. Been a Lowey Stude owner/fan for 60 years and have never seen a Champion hardtop or a Starliner (vs Starlight) coupe. Anyone?

        Like 0
  15. Fred W

    RE: Air Conditioning – these particular cars (the “C” body coupe and hardtop) are particularly comfortable to drive on a warm day, all the windows down, vent windows open and deflecting the air blast, and the fender vents, a Studebaker exclusive, blasting air up your shorts. You can be absolutely comfortable on an 80 degree day. 90 plus, yes AC would be nice, but you are missing on on half the old car experience!

    Like 2
    • Robt

      Love this comment on windows open AC. Wish my son could understand this!
      Exactly, good thru 80+, after 90 maybe AC. A little noisy on the highway but …

      Like 1
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Fred… You obviously don’t live in or near Oklahoma with summer temps in the 100s or South Florida where right now we’re at 97 degrees. I did appreciate the foot well vents in my ’53 but in the ’60s and ’70s we didn’t have the hot days we have now. Lot of folks thought we were crazy to put AC in a late model Beetle convertible for a customer until we had one of our over 100 degree months right after installing it. That said, we’ve owned a lot of open roadsters that were a lot more fun with the tops down.

      Like 0
      • Steve Mehl

        I spent two summers in Oklahoma, one in the late 1960’s, and the other in 1973. AC matters down there. I also was in Florida in the summer of 1958 and the summer of the early 2000’s. AC is needed.
        Not to mention 4 years in Phoeniz, AZ. My AC compressor got dropped by a shyster mechanic out there one day and I was without AC for some weeks until I could afford to get it replaced in my 1978 AMC Concord. It was brutal in that car without AC.

        Like 0
    • Greg in Texas

      It’s hilarious how anyone can claim to be ‘a car guy’ making air conditioning on a classic car ‘the determining factor’. Some of us remember driving cars we turned off the air conditioner to pass cars on the freeway. I still have a car I drive like that. Air conditioning is nice, but on old cars, another system to maintain and make problems with adjusting idle on. Most of us remember working on carburators with vacuum line problems. Well if you want air conditioner on at idle, you have to increase gas going to the engine so it won’t stall out, especially if an automatic. You can keep that, or upgrade to Webers, remembering to turn off air conditioner at stop lights. You don’t get to drive old cars with modern comforts without some compromises. If air conditioning comforts are the deal breaker, probably should save up for an electric car, and learn in that ‘school’ that using air conditioning means 50 miles of range lost per charge. Luke back in the day, no matter with or without air conditioning: plan not to be in the sun driving at hottest times of the year. It’s a car! Not a nursemaid!

      Like 1
  16. Poppy

    I agree with many of the other posters on here: Don’t paint the door coves on these cars a contrasting color. It utterly spoils the design.

    Like 1
  17. MikeG.

    Amen !!

    Like 0
  18. SteveG

    In Oklahoma we had a joke about rusted out cars and trucks held together with bailing wire and duct tape.
    Probably hasn’t had an oil change in a year Ava three used tires. I guarantee that the AC was regularly serviced!
    No degree of ventilation or 80 mph wind blast to the nether regions can compete with that Oklahoma heat.

    Like 1
    • Steve Mehl

      Steve G, you do not exaggerate. Although it has been 50 years since I spent a summer in Oklahoma, I still have vivid recall of what summers were like in Okl in Stillwater and then Tahlequah. In 1973 I had a 1971 Pinto without AC in Oklahoma. It was a furnace.

      Like 1
  19. Chuck Simons

    I curse that kitchen remodel every time I see this car.

    Like 0
    • eric22t

      but not where the missus can hear you i bet chuck lol.

      Like 0
  20. Greg in Texas

    Straight 6 BMW or early Lexus (Cressida) would make this everything it should be. Gone are the days pressing pedal to V8 for blue pills guys hoping for attention and adoration. Very nice styling, you just need reliability, smooth cruising, proper weight distribution / lighter, so the brakes can do their job well. Wouldn’t take much. Or go all electric. But that nose and engine bay is begging for a straight 6. At the right price, the winner will undoubtedly understand that on first drive.

    Like 0

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