Estate Find: 1954 Studebaker Commander Starliner

The 1953-58 Studebakers benefitted from distinct styling provided by the famed Raymond Loewy Studio. They were both sleek and low in appearance, thus different than most of the boxy-looking cars that the major car manufacturers were building. The 1954 models would be the last before Packard merged with Studebaker to become Studebaker-Packard Corp. This ’54 Commander appears to be a Starliner Coupe and was part of a collection owned by the seller’s step-father who recently passed away. Located in South Bend, Indiana (where Studebaker was headquartered), this car is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $3,275 and the seller acknowledges that the reserve is $5,000.

Commander was a name that Studebaker would use on and off for several years beginning in 1927. They would skip 1936 and 1959-63 before retiring the name in 1964 when the company was starting to wind down. They were built in Studebaker’s assembly plants in both South Bend and Hamilton, Ontario. As a rule, the Commander was Studebaker’s mainstream product, while the Champion was the junior model when they appeared in the line-up together.

1954 models would be little changed from 1953 and total Studebaker production that year would number 68,708 cars. The Commander would be nearly half that at 31,570 units and the Starliner just 5,040. Nothing like the numbers put up by Chevy, Ford, or any of the Chrysler brands. From the photos provided, it looks as though this ’54 Commander has spent a lot of time indoors in a big garage. There is at least one other vintage car in there as well. There some surface rust here and there and we’re not sure about the floorboards. The worse spot may be around where the radio antenna sits on the fender. If not attended to, that could turn into a hole. The seller doesn’t indicate any problems with the undercarriage. When new, it probably looked good with black or dark blue over light blue paint.

We’re told the car should be drivable once a new ignition switch is installed. The last time the seller’s father took the car out, the key broke in the ignition. He bought a new switch but didn’t get around to replacing it before passing, so the buyer gets that honor. This Studebaker is said to have a new set of tires and brakes. Presumably original to the car, the Commander used a 233 cubic inch OHV V8 that comes with an automatic transmission. The latter had three forward speeds but also a lock-up torque converter. The 259 V9 wouldn’t come out for another year.

The car’s red and grey interior is original and looks complete other than the carpeting and kick panels have been removed. The seats are described as being upholstered in leather, but it looks more like quality vinyl to me. Because of their “low rider” looks, this generation of Studebaker Commanders is popular even 65-plus years after they were new. We understand that parts availability is good and they’re not hard to work on, making them relatively inexpensive to own. This one may only be looking for some TLC and new paint. You’d have a seldom seen car in a sea of Tri Fives and Galaxies. If you should check out the car in person, why not stop by the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend. It’s on my list to visit.


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  1. Cattoo Cattoo Member

    Former owner it would appear has retired to the big ham radio shack in the sky. 73’s

    Like 12
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Still one of the best designs out there. I spent as much time sitting and looking at my ’53 as I did driving it. Nice cars. Hope this one gets a complete restoration.

    Like 14
  3. misterlou Member

    Wonderful museum. Houses Fozzie Bear’s ’51 Bullet-nosed Studebaker.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey


      Did you see how Fozzie Bear’s car was actually driven on the road during filming? They had a “small in stature” person in a tiny seat located in the trunk, who drove the car by watching a TV screen to see where to drive.

      Like 1
  4. allyn johnson Member

    east of ‘ol miss ham at that!!

    Like 2
  5. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Miles ahead at $5000 on this one……it’s a buy at that. The dash is out because he was trying to replace the ignition and if your in the Studebaker know – they used a LOT of aluminum keys !!!

    Like 7
    • Engident

      My dad’s 50 Champion had aluminum keys. I thought they were cheap copies, never occurred to me they might be original

      Like 3
  6. Vince H

    The Commander name was used till the end in 66. Being a South Bend car beware of rust.

    Like 2
  7. Vince H

    I see this was a Pennsylvania car at one time. Rust is hiding. Reserve hasbeen met.

    Like 3
  8. Don Sicura

    Oh how I would love to own this car, I’ve owned quite a few Lowey coupe 2 door post cars, even a 58 Packard Hawk, but never a 53 or 54 hard top, If I wasn’t so packed with cars at home, I’d own this one. My HOA is threatening me because I have so many cars, truth!

    Like 6
  9. Ron

    I presume the V9 engine which came out the next year was a one year only offering, seeing as how it had four cylinders on one side and five on the other, they never really got it to run smoothly;-)

    Like 6
    • Harold Griffin

      First time I heard of a V9, sounds interesting, car has a lot of potential. Would love to restore back to original & drive.

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