Cop Car Champion? 1958 Studebaker

When I first spied this 1958 Studebaker Champion squad car, I thought of the 1958 song “Beep Beep” by The Playmates. A Studebaker in hot pursuit? Well, maybe, though it seems unlikely. Then again, I’m not familiar with an actual example and I’m not a cop car aficionado either. So, real or not, let’s find out. This Champion sedan is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and is available, here on ACC Auctions for a current bid of $5,200. Larry D gets the nod for this interesting find.

First up the seller states that the title for this black & white lists it as a ’57 but the trim tag, and bodywork indicate that it is a 1958 model. The trim, door edge guards, white stripe tires, and full wheel covers detract from the cop car vibe but those are later additions. The body and finish look genuine enough but the single “Oklahoma Highway Patrol” door decal looks minimal and there are no other identifying numbers. As for condition, the body appears sound with no sign of battering ram action or the other kinds of hi-jinx that usually involve cop cars. The finish is scratched and nicked in places but the boo-boos are minimal.

Another un-patrol car feature is the unpictured (though shown in the accompanying video) 101 HP, 185 CI, in-line six-cylinder, flathead engine – probably not a Cadillac passing powerplant. The seller adds, “It starts easily and runs well with a muted flathead soundtrack from the exhaust system, and the 3-speed manual transmission shifts well and generally stays out of the way“.

The interior, which is in nice shape, doesn’t really look like police car material – not exactly “cop seats” as Elwood so famously opined. And the backseat is hardly perp-proof but it is a bright, clean and utilitarian environment with no noted wear. The additional switch gear attached to the far left portion of the dash actuates the siren and lights; yup, they actually work – what fun!

There is a walkaround video that can be reviewed and you’ll hear the siren sound as well as get a glimpse of some actual road operation. The cop car vibe is pretty cool but it will likely have a limited market though as the seller suggests, “This is ready to drive to your local car shows and show off this head turner and smile maker“, so if car shows are your thing, here you go. One thing that can’t be ignored is the fact that this is a Studebaker and not a Chevy, Ford, Plymouth, or Buick for all of you Broderick Crawford fans. Studebaker was taking on water by ’58 and this example, being a model 58G W4 means, according to The Classic Car Database, that it is one of only 5,178 assembled in ’58 – the Champion’s last year of production. Considering its condition, one could actually de-cop this car, perform some paintwork and end up with a pretty sound Studebaker sedan, right?

Comments

  1. That AMC guy

    The song “Beep Beep” was written about a Nash Rambler, not a Studebaker. :)

    Like 10
    • Terrry

      that was chasing a Cadillac. The driver of the Nash finally caught the Caddy and asked its its driver, “how do you get this thing out of second gear?”

      Like 10
    • RIMSPOKE

      beep – beep was re-recorded for the european market
      with the car in pursuit being a bubblecar !

      ( generic term for isetta , messerschmitt , heinkel )

      Like 2
  2. Rob

    And people say that the ’58 Ford and ’58 Edsel were an ugly in the styling department . . . which they are. I would say the same about the 1958 Stude.

    Like 6
    • Poppy

      Given the relative financial means of Ford versus Studebaker, I’d have to give the nod to Studebaker on this one. Ford had the money to do a clean sheet design for the Edsel if they chose to, and that’s the best they could come up with? Studebaker was stuck with 6-year-old body design that was fairly narrow and tall by 1958 standards (think of the Chryslers of ’58). Considering what they had to work with it’s not a horrible design, but they are definitely an “acquired taste”, even for a Studebaker fan like myself.

      Like 16
    • Terrry

      Front isn’t too bad (sorry Edsel) but the rear fins are “tacked on”.

      Like 3
      • That AMC Guy

        Literally fiberglass fins tacked on to the old body! (Along with tacked-on headlight pods for the 4 headlights.)

        The same body looked much better chopped down to make the ’59 Lark.

        Like 4
    • Vince H

      Don’t forget the ugly 58 Olds and Buick.

      Like 8
      • SubGothius

        Really, pretty much all of the American ’58s were awkwardly styled. Seems like the ’50s styling motifs were played-out after peaking for ’57, and designers were struggling to either extend them further somehow or find a new direction for the ’60s which hadn’t really coalesced quite yet.

        Like 6
      • Jimmy Novak

        Bulgemobiles personified.

        Like 1
      • Richard Kirschenbaum

        Ironic too because for less money you could get into a gorgeous ’58 Chevy Impala coupe or ragtop.

        Like 2
  3. Terrry

    I find it hard to believe this was ever a cop car, not with that running gear especially in 1958. Maybe someone later decided to make it look like one? Cop car or not, however, it would have a welcome spot in my garage.

    Like 12
  4. nlpnt

    Studebaker did offer a dedicated police package in 1958 but it was based on the ultra-stripped Scotsman with a V8 not available in that trim level to retail buyers. IDK if anyone other than South Bend used them.

    Like 8
    • JOHN BARNES

      Ontario,Canada had a fleet of Scotsman police cars in 1958, and the
      Swift Meat Packing Co. and Bell Telephone of Canada used two door
      Scotsman sedans.

      Like 8
  5. Pit Stop Pauly

    I really like this Studebaker, but the Hawks were a much more beautiful design. As for speed, the flat 6 wasn’t made to be fast. However, Studebakers with the 289 V8 set, and still holds a few class land speed records at Bonneville. I currently have a 62 Lark that I am working on with the 259 V8, Twin Traction (Studebaker posi traction). I have always liked the great vehicles Studebaker managed to make on a very limited budget.

    Like 7
  6. duaney Member

    Unlikely that any police dept would order a Champion with that economy champ 6 cyl, 0 to 60 in 25 seconds. Nothing wrong with 30 mpg, but the police need horse power

    Like 1
  7. Vince H

    In the 60s Studebaker built the city marshal which had a 6 cylinder engine.

    Like 2
  8. Frank of Eden

    Yes Studebaker did provide a “police package”. It was called the Studebaker Marshal, it was truly a stripped down vehicle with a 289 cubic inch engine, with a optional 4-barrel carburetor, BUT Dual exhausts were standard. They touted premium engine features to insure long life despite being used in police service. But I could not find any info on what the “premium” engine features were.

    • Vince H

      I know of at least one that has the R1 Avanti engine.

      Like 1
  9. Emel

    Highway Patrol is now on MeTV. The opening is still great. And that’s the first thing I thought of….upon seeing this pic in the daily email. Studebakers and Tuckers…..cars way ahead of their time.

    Like 1
  10. Wayne

    The Chicago police department used 6 cylinder cars for “Local” patrol for many years. However, they did use V8 cars for “highway duty”.

    Like 2
  11. Joseph A Fay

    This is known in the Police Car hobby as a “Clown Car”, it was never cop car.

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