Camper Special? 1956 Studebaker Transtar

Usually, when one thinks of Studebaker, thoughts of an Avanti or a ’50/’51 bullet-nose come to mind. But Studebaker was much more than just those memorable models. They actually had a rather robust pickup truck business at one time. Today’s find, courtesy of Larry D., is just such a subject and is in the form of a 1956 Transtar pickup. The details are minimal but let’s see what’s here. This rarely seen anymore pickup is located in Redmond, Washington and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $610 with six bids tendered so far.

The listing for this truck states, “Studebaker Transtar needs some love – good bones“. And that’s all she wrote. So, what do we know? Not a lot, this truck is listed as a ’56 which tells us that it’s the first year for the Transtar name. It continued through ’58, took a year off, and returned in ’60 for a run through ’63 which was around the time that Studebaker closed its South Bend, Indiana assembly plant for good. Research indicates that this Transtar is one of about 20K copies produced in ’56. This truck appears to be sound but it’s hard to tell with any certainty, an up-close and personal inspection would be necessary. Obviously, surface rust abounds but obvious body decay is not evident. It has probably been sitting for a bit (note the tires) but that’s just speculation at this point. I find the camper attachment to be an interesting discovery – is it specific to this Studebake pickup or is it more of a universal fit that was convinced to fit? I don’t know for sure.

What’s under the hood? Good question, probably either a 92 HP, 3.0-liter in-line, flathead six or a 102 HP, 4.0-liter inline-six – the seller does not elaborate. Of course, any Studebaker aficionados are always welcome to chime in. This Transtar is probably not a runner – another unknown item, though the engine looks complete. Even what looks like an old-style oil-bath air filter is still sitting perched upon the carburetor. The gearbox is a three-on-the-tree manually actuated unit.

The interior shows better than one might expect. There is some surface rust and other dreck evident but the seat upholstery is not showing signs of rips and the simple, but functional, instrument panel is still fairly clear and legible. The headliner has given it up but this truck, like most from this era, has a compact and straightforward cab environment and it wouldn’t take much to send it in a useable, and pleasant, direction. Note the underside of the dash – and add on radio or tape player perhaps?

The seller advises potential bidders that the title for this truck is classified as salvage so that may or may not be an issue for later registration. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – I’d like to see this Studebaker Transtar return to its workaday roots with a stock restoration. It has a lot of originality and it’s hardly an everyday find – it would seem a shame to hack-rod it, but that’s just my view. But what about your view, what would you do with this noteworthy find?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Sigh, I figured the truck nuts would be all over this,,,hang your heads in shame. The Studebaker pickup was rare then, to even SEE one today, is well, I can’t think of anything. I was unaware they were called Transtars, a name I thought was for the heavier models with the plastic grill,( Studebaker did make a heavy duty road tractor called Transtar) but Jim did his homework, as usual, and all trucks were called Transtars since ’56. ( A name IH later used for their cabover trucks) Studebaker got a bad rap, for some reason, they were all as good, or better in some cases, than the others. From a time when all the major companies offered pickups, REO, Mack,( a rebadged REO), Nash, Diamond T, it was their overbuilding that did them in. Ford could build and sell probably 3 trucks for what it cost to build one of these. I’m not sure what’s in store for these old “bucket of bolts” projects, it’s not nice enough, or practical enough to use as is, and any modification will detract from what this is. Someone will doctor this up to the nines, I’m sure, but at one time, for a select few, this was probably one of the best trucks you could buy. Great find.

    Like 14
  2. eurovin Member

    Actually, the ’60 – ’64 trucks were called Champs. Mine was built three days before the South Bend plant closed its doors.
    Studebaker was in dire straits in 1960. The big three had gone through two or three different redesigned trucks in the fifties, but Studebaker was rocking the same basic body since 1948. They didn’t have the resources to create an entirely new truck, so in a last ditch effort to stay in the game, they literally cut a Lark in half (they beat the competition into the “small” car game a year ahead of Falcon, Corvair & Valiant, & it sold pretty well),
    acquired the rights to Dodge’s retired fleetside box in 1961, & soldiered on.

    Like 3
  3. Johnny C

    Studebaker built tough trucks. Built like a tank and rides like a tank. I know, I have two of them (’52 & ’56) and the ’56 is my every day vehicle. The serial tag on the body identifies it as a Studebaker Packard. It’s reliable and quite capable of doing what a truck was meant to do. Mine hauls 12 bales of hay or a load of gravel without complaint. I love the simplicity of driving a vehicle with no power assist or computerized anything. Plus it’s a great conversation starter. You can’t get away with any shenanigans though… “Can you identify the get away vehicle?” “Why yes… yes I can!”

    Like 6
    • Kurt

      Wonder if that’s a Packard engine in there.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Kurt,

        Nope, not a Packard motor of any kind, it’s a flathead 6 cylinder Studebaker engine.

        Like 2
  4. Johnny

    I like it. Been thinking about getting one off a friend. If he ever stays out of trouble.

    Like 1
  5. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    True, this Stude cab screams “1940s design.” Windshield looks like it should be divided but it’s not. I had a chance to buy one of these sitting forlornly at a self-storage facility the bed packed full of bicycles. The owner said take it all away for $1000 but I just didn’t have the cash. This one looks to be in almost the same condition, but alas it is at least 20 states away from me. I don’t have a trailer to accommodate the weight either. Sigh.

    Like 2

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