Mountain High: 1952 Studebaker Champion

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This is a third generation Studebaker Champion. Introduced in 1947, this was the first post war redesign and a big change from the prewar design. We had a tan version of this Champion when I was a kid. Somehow it’s the mirrors I remember, the rearview on the dash and the one on the door. Everyone else in the neighborhood was driving prewar cars, so we were really stylin’ and got lots of attention in our “which way” Stude. This Studebaker listed in craigslist is claimed to be completely original with only 11,400 miles. It looks really nice in the pictures. Perhaps it’s an older restoration. There is no way the engine could have gotten so cruddy in so few miles. If this Studebaker really is a #2 car upon closer inspection the price could be reasonable. Someone might well feel this Champion is worth $13,000. There is the messy engine, though, that makes one wonder. You will have to travel to Colorado Springs to find out for sure.

The interior looks too good to be true. Is there any way any a sixty five years old interior could look this nice?

That ‘s 170 CID flat that six puts out about 80 HP through a 3 speed overdrive transmission. It looks original except for the fuel filter. Does this greasy old engine look like an eleven thousand mile engine? The inner fender and shiny firewall paint don’t go with the state of the engine either. It must have been repainted under the hood. The fan and windshield motors as well as the air cleaner should also be shiny black to go with the paint. It will take some work, but the engine would look better with some serious cleaning.

This Champion certainly presents well and that shiny blue paint would really turn heads at car shows. Could that be an original color? It looks a little like “Maui Blue” but only a little. Could this car really be as nice as it looks or is this just a lot of blue lipstick on a, well, pig? Hopefully this isn’t yet another car some will suggest stuffing with an LS3 and adding 20 inch wheels.

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  1. RayT

    My guess is that the Stude has been repainted…looks like some overspray on the door latches visible in a couple of photos. But the interior and engine (which can get pretty grubby on a 65 year-old car no matter how many miles it has covered) and spare all look original.

    No matter, really. I like these Studes and wouldn’t mind having one, especially with the manual/OD transmission. Don’t want one $13K’s-worth, though. I’d look at the ’51 Commander posted yesterday, because I think the bullet-nose cars are as good as it gets, style-wise.

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  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    The engine looks OK to me.

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  3. Texas Tea

    I have old photos of a car that looks similar to this with my older sister and brother (born 47 & 50) standing in front of it, but it is a Kaiser as best as I can make out. Can anyone of the experts tell me if these two companies merged around this time period? Just wondering.

    Nice looking old ride.

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    • HoA Howard AMember

      Hi TT, I’m no expert ( although, I play one on BF’s) pretty sure Kaiser never merged with Studebaker. They did merge with Willys-Overland in 1953. Studebaker merged with Packard in ’54, I think.

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      • Ed P

        Howard, you have it right.

        Like 1
  4. HoA Howard AMember

    BEEEEEEEEEEEEautiful. Why Studebaker never made it is beyond me. What a car. I’m sure it’s a repaint of the original color, but who cares. It had to be pretty nice to begin with. It’s older than me, so of course the engine will be dirty. They could have cleaned it up, and if I was to show it, I’d do just that. O/D will have you hummin’ down the road at respectable r’s, not slamming the rods to death trying to get out of the way of a soccer mom who is running late. Can someone tell me what that diaphragm behind the oil filter is? Vacuum sucks the clutch down? You want to motor down the road in a fancy, classic looking, dependable 50’s car, here it is, but again, ain’t gonna be cheap. Very nice car.

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    • RayT

      Howard, could it be that the diaphragm provides vacuum to engage the O/D? Otherwise, I haven’t got a clue….

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    • wcastorMember

      I’m sorry but I can’t see any diaphram behind the oil filter. I can see the oil filler cap just in front, and just behind is the bracket to hold the plug wires and I can see the oval opening that the steering column goes thru, but no diaphram. Am I just missing it?

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    • Loco Mikado

      They never made it because of a lot of reasons. In ’66 the last year of production they were basically building the same car as the ’53’s. The same frame fits from 13 years of cars and yes even the Avanti uses the same ’53 frame way into the 70’s. They never really updated much for 13 years, yes cosmetic changes but using basically the same car for 13 years. Studebaker owners are blessed with more parts interchangeability than any other car of the time period and the availability of parts is something that owners of other classic cars can only dream of or would kill for. So you have a car that was looked down upon in its day bit today is one of the easiest cars to get parts for to restore. But they were really killed by their own corporate board of directors who thought they could make more return on investment than the automotive division. But during the time after WW2 and rise of corporations looking only to get the next quarters profit up so the heads of the companies could reap a windfall destroyed quite a few iconic American corporations. And have led to the multinational corporations whose only loyalty is to the bottom line and care less about the people or the countries they destroy in the process. Didn’t mean to get long winded but this is only the simplified version of the answer to your question. There were other factors involved but I tried to boil it down to the core factors. Even mighty GM was not immune, it just took longer.

      Like 2
  5. Todd J. Ikey HeymanMember

    This has been for sale at this price for awhile, I would say over 6 months. Been watching to see if he lowers the ask.

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  6. charlieMember

    My father had a ’50. And the Automobile Driving Museum in LA has a ’47 or ’48 Convertible that they bring out for rides around the block on occasional Sundays. My memory of it was that it was an underpowered oil burner, I was 15 when it was traded in on a Chevy, and it was clear to me why they did not sell well. And it had that “Midnight Blue” paint that oxidized in the colors of the rainbow. But the Museum’s car is proof of how well it was built in terms of detail, compared to a Ford or Chevy of the time.

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    • Ron W. Wheeler

      I was 12 when our family owned a 1952 and we took a trip fro Southern Calif to Michigan. A covered wagon would have been faster. My dad sure peed off so many truckers over the mountains, to and from.

      When we got back, he traded it for a 1952 Buick Super. A step up, but not much. After a time, he bought a 1957 Ford-500 and I had just bought a 1957 Chev. We raced one day and I just saw his trunk way ahead of me.

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  7. ben

    went to the ncaa in ocola today winter meet some aweet cars there brought my 64 bird but some of the prices for the ones for sale crazy you would be amazed how many I talked with never even herd of barn finders hope I turned a few new members on to u guys love this site ben in fl

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  8. My Stude is older than me

    Kermit and Fozzie recommend the ’50-’51 bulletnose

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  9. GOPAR

    Very glad to see all these Studebakers showing up on Barn Finds. They’re great, happy little cars with lots of personality. I own a 1951 Champion Starlight Coupe in concord blue with skirts, wide whites, Fulton windshield visor and other period custom touches. What a time machine!

    Like 1
  10. charlieMember

    Ah yes, when our l950 Studebaker was new we went on our one and only family week long trip, from Boston to Niagara Falls ( a two day trip on Route 20 before the Mass and NY Pikes), and then to Newark NJ and home. It overheated on the big hills in NY State and we would sit by the side of the road and let it cool down. My uncle, not to be outdone, bought a ’51 with the V8, which ran poorly from the day it left the dealership, his ’38 Plymouth was more reliable, even though it was 13 years old. And the warranty in those days was very short, maybe 30 days, and no recalls, so if you got a lemon, you got a lemon.

    Like 1
    • Ron W. Wheeler

      Charlie, the word LEMON has not been used for 50 years. Guess now they say a 40 thousand dollar mistake.
      A person just could not trade in a car with over 40 k on it. They only lasted until about 100 k if we were lucky.
      So many speedos were turned back or a lessor milage one put in from the wreckers. Ah yes, those were the days. Ha,ha.

      Like 0
  11. charlieMember

    My father switched from Studebakers (he had a ’37 Commander before the “50) which was a BIG car, but pretty well used up by 1950. My uncle had always bought Chevys which all went over 100,000 miles, so he switched to GM;s.

    And NH still has a “lemon law”, my new 2014 Audi was in the shop for over 7 days for the same problem in the first 4 months, friend told me I could get my money back, but the 7th time was the charm, it has been fine since. It was some electronic component, I said this was unusual for Boesch electronics, dealer said, Audi was using Chinese electronics, and their quality control was not as good as the German’s, but a lot cheaper.

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    • My Stude is older than me

      Getting off-topic, but I drove a ’95 Alfa and an ’06 VW from new, to over 100K miles each. Most every failed part, on both cars, had “Bosch” stamped on it. (…and the Alfa was more reliable than the German-built VW)

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  12. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Cheap Chinese stuff….well, as a carpenter/contractor for the last 30 years, I know which tools work and which don’t. My brother-in-law loves to shop at Horrid Fright Tools, so I’ve bought a couple of things from them, and I can tell you that these imports succeed at looking like actual tools, but they aren’t actual tools. Most of my stuff is Bosch.

    I’ve heard nothing but complaints about Audi cars dating back to the 70s, so the idea of an Audi with Chinese components really sounds like…like buying an Audi with Chinese components.

    Like 0

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