Fabulous Fiberglass: 1942 Studebaker Sports Custom

Mystery is the quality of pairing concealment with what is revealed, with the aim of capturing both the attention and the imagination of the audience. Titled as a 1942 Studebaker, this cream roadster is located in Centreville, Maryland, and listed here on eBay. At the time of writing the bid has climbed to over $9,000, with the reserve as yet unmet. With a little over two days left in the auction, it remains to be seen if the car will soon be on its way to a new home.

According to the current owner, the previous owner claimed that he purchased the car in California, at a warehouse sale in 1956. Its history prior to this purchase is unknown. When the current owner first encountered the car, the fiberglass body was unpainted and the engine bay held a Chevrolet 327 V8. The rear end was also GM– a 12-bolt Posi 3.73– though the front, including steering, was all Studebaker. What year Studebaker was another matter, since the grille pieces are from a ’41. It’s possible that the windshield is from the same donor, but nothing is completely certain with this car.

The current owner did the paint and swapped the engine and transmission for a 400 cubic inch SBC and Turbo 350 three-speed. The other parts remain. Interior elements are from a variety of sources: the inclusion of a few Corvette gauges point to the likely origin of both the 327 and the Posi rear diff. Which means that the car must have had a different setup in 1956. Curiouser and curiouser. A certain amount of work remains, particularly with the electrical systems. Neither lights nor gauges are currently operable.

Without any documentation, it seems safe to say that this is a well-executed one-off fiberglass sport custom. Studebakers were common platforms for fiberglass customs in the fifties; several examples of the early Glasspar bodies were fitted to Studebaker chassis. Even the Kellison J5 sourced its windshield from the 1948-1952 Studebaker. The design is striking. Certain elements suggest the XK120, especially when one looks at the turn signals, but the overall lines look to be closer to the Triumph TR3. The nose, though, is pure Studebaker– one can see hints of the design elements that Raymond Loewy would carry from the pre-war models through to the lauded 1953 coupe. The whole story of the car’s design and construction might never be known, but it is definitely the kind of car that attracts attention and fires the imagination. Maybe this is the best kind of automotive mystery.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    What a looker! The hint of Studebaker with the grill, the Corvette style rear lights and borrowing profile line from an XK120, it makes for a unique machine.
    But as you said, Andy-what’s the original intention, a sports car or a poseur? And why didn’t it ever get finished?
    Too, with the experience the seller appears to have with car etc. sales, why so very few pictures?
    Have any BF readers ever seen this or one like it? The back story could be a great read all by itself!

    Like 5
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Not enough pictures here, possibly with the story line a little more complete would help bidding. Definitely an older body but what chassis is under it and how well is it assembled. Some parts have been identified and it really looks good, has potential.

    Like 1
  3. Mike Roberts

    The front kinda looks like Borat.

    Like 1
    • Steveo

      Great success.

      Like 1
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Maybe this is where the Brits got the idea for the Bugeye Sprite headlights. Interesting car. Underside pictures would be interesting to see.

    • Brakeservo

      Before the Bugeye was the Crosley HotShot and before those headlights you have the Pierce Arrow . . . so far back do you want to go??

  5. Kelly Breen

    I thought it was a Triumph at first glance.
    It is a very interesting car.

    Like 2
  6. Lyzerd

    The cowl mounted spot lights are a great touch. Very nice lines.

    Like 1
  7. sterling bottomley

    this is a odd car alright. why fiberglass a tr-3 look when you could just take a tr-3 and use it. corvette back would be fiberglass side finders would be metal and do what ever with the front. jag lights, grill is stud. but looks willys. with these photos it looks like a master did the fiberglass! so in 1955 it could only be a hand full of people that did this. i would bet someone that worked on the corvette did this. if we known what wearhouse he got it from we most likely could figer out who did this.. i like this one off car. looking at inside it looks like someone knowing what there doing did the inside. that says it was a person in the car buzz did this! almost like someone saide i like this this and this and this now build it for me. and this is what you get. now why would he not keep it? maybe it was for someone that died?

    Like 1
    • Neil Larkins

      Definitely a one-off based on a Studebaker chassis (for titling) and a body from….? A number of design elements, but the body fabrication is not from 1942.The tech was not that advanced then. Where’s the proof that Studebaker ever even built this as a design study? It would be a fun car to own and get a lot of attention, but that’s as far as it goes.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Neil,

        I’ve talked with the owner of this car, and I’m meeting with him in a few days. If this is the same car I saw about 35 to 40 years ago, it’s based on a shortened body and chassis of a 1948 Packard Super convertible.

        I have confirmed that the car has coil springs up front, and early Studebakers have a single set of leaf springs across the front crossmember, so It’s not a pre-WW2 Studebaker chassis.

        Will provide everyone with an update after I have a chance to go over the car with the owner.

        Like 3
  8. SeeOne

    I rather like this. Would love to see it in person. From the 3/4 view of the rear with the top up, it reminds me of a Cord 8/10ths for some reason.

    I wonder if it will reach the reserve?

  9. Bill McCoskey

    I live about 15 minutes from this car, and can take a look at it for anyone who is serious about the car, just let me know. billmccoskey@aol.com

  10. Bill McCoskey

    Interesting car. The cowl, windshield, upper dash panel, windshield wipers, and the vent windows, are off a 1948 Packard convertible. I’m sure of this, not only have I restored 2, I own one myself.

    I’m going to try to view this Wed morning if possible, for a potential buyer.

    Like 4
    • Al

      In some respects, the dash is reminiscent of the dash in the Jun 21, 2021 BF If Rolls-Royce Built A Family Wagon! 1971 Ford Country Squire

      It is a German made “Grob gesägtes Baumholz”®

      Like 9
  11. tiger66

    Nothing about this car says “1942” to me. Fiberglass bodies weren’t even being done back then. The dash and steering wheel look ’70s though the speedo and tach are from a ’63 or ’64 Corvette (the “bent” needles were specific to those years). The body itself looks modeled on a TR3, which of course was not around in 1942. What a mishmash.

    Like 1
  12. Corky Aeh

    after looking at the Fiberglass body and the interior , it sure looks like a Kit car to me , not that thats all bad !!

  13. Joe

    The article states he purchased the car in 1956 and it had a 327ci engine… the 327 didn’t come out until 1962…. so his purchase date might not be correct.. Otherwise its a great looking car…

    Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve talked to the actual owner of the car, and have made arrangements to visit it after the coming weekend, and I’ll report back what I find.

    Like 1
  15. chrlsful

    one-offs R great,
    This one shows all the copying. Still, amazing how the ‘bug eye’ blends into the separate Y/M/M grill. Never B able to do this (on paper or actually build it – from skratch ❦
    Now give me the actual parts? I think I could do it. Seen a sketch ofa Kennedy Lincoln wagonised. Posted the artist to C if he had an actual Y/M/M in mind for the tail gait, 1/4ers and roof. If so I’d love to try

    Like 1
  16. Bill McCoskey

    I had the opportunity to meet with the owner and closely examine this car and we also put the car up on a lift so I could examine the underside.

    The 1942 Studebaker identification is likely based on a VIN on the front frame rail, as the entire front chassis & suspension is pre-war Studebaker. The rear part of the frame suggests mid 1950s GM. I wasn’t able to verify the VIN due to the need to disassemble items blocking the access to the top of the frame rail.

    The entire cowl, windshield frame, and door hinges/a posts are from a 1937 to 1942 GM car from the BOP group. As the door vent windows are a match to the cowl, I’m sure they are from the same car. That said, the rest of the doors [except for the front hinge areas] are hand laid reinforced fiberglass. The door latches are GM late 1940s.

    All the exterior body panels are hand laid fiberglass bonded to internal round steel pipe that curves to meet the needs of the body panels. The coarse weave of the fiberglass mats and the lack of a thick gel coat applied prior to the fiberglass mats suggests the body is a very early creation, probably made in the late 1940s to the early 1950s, and may well be earlier than the first Corvettes.

    This car is a product of many different automobile parts centered around a pre-war GM cowl and a front Studebaker frame. It’s my guesstimate the car’s original build starting date was probably in the late ’40s and mostly finished in the mid to late 1950s. The build quality runs the gamut of quality work & design, to rather crude assemblies of parts from different vehicles.

    This could be a great challenge for someone desiring a one-off and very unusual running and driving street rod, needing additional attention.

    It is truly a one-of-a-kind roadster.

    Like 2
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Bill McCoskey, as another avid fan of interesting bygone vehicles thank you for your time, investigation and knowledgeable research into another mystery car-more so as you took the time to get back to us!!
      I was going to give you a “thumbs up” as well but for whatever reason my tap on the icon is almost never acknowledged now…?
      It’d be an interesting afternoon to sit at a good car museum when you’re around.

  17. Bill McCoskey

    Nevada,

    If you ever plan on visiting the DC/Balt/Philly area, let me know, I can’t travel more than a few hours by car, and for me air travel is out due to medical issues. But there is a world class museum right next to the Philly airport by the name of The Simeone Collection, it focuses on “fast cars”, and I never fail to enjoy visiting again and again.

    Like 1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Thank you, Bill-I’ll take you up on that. If traveling is possible this summer that’d be a good road trip!

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Dr Fred Simeone and his son started buying older sporting cars in the 1960s, when a lot of the foreign cars could be bought fairly cheaply. They were able to buy some really unique, rare and famous race cars like the actual Shelby Daytona coupe.

        For anyone not familiar with this museum’s car collection, click on this link: https://simeonemuseum.org/the-collection/

  18. Bill McCoskey

    My email is easy; billmccoskey@aol.com

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