Pay It Forward: 1936 Studebaker COE

Studebaker was a historic transportation company, making horse-drawn wagons as early as 1852. The company began building electric cars in 1902 and gasoline powered “motor cars” in 1904. The company built its first light duty commercial vehicles in 1914, made bus chassis starting in 1926, and introduced its first medium and heavy duty trucks beginning in 1929 with the GN series that went up to a two ton capacity and wheelbases up to 146 inches.

Despite financial troubles brought on by the Depression, including going into receivership in 1934, Studebaker was able to rebuild as both a passenger car and truck manufacturer and introduced both conventional and cab-forward truck lines with a variety of engines and load capacities during the 1930s.

In 1936 Studebaker’s Cab-Forward (COE) trucks were designated as the 2M series, sharing mechanical components with the conventional T-series models. These COE trucks were somewhat ahead of their time, being designed for use in cities, where maneuvering narrow streets and alleys was difficult for drivers.

While Studebaker was a relatively small commercial vehicle manufacturer compared to Ford and GM, and even in the depths of the Great Depression, the company still managed to sell a total of 2260 2M series trucks in two year model run.

The “Ace” model was the 1 1/2 ton capacity version of this line of good looking trucks. I’m guessing that unless you grew up in a big city in the thirties and forties, you have probably never seen one of these trucks on the road.

The example shown here is for sale on eBay in Fall River, Massachusetts. The seller says he is only selling this one because he has two of them and can’t keep them both!

According to its seller, this truck has been in storage for 50 years. It is said to be in rust free condition with excellent sheet metal. All gauges, dash trim, and other hardware are present and it is said to only need a windshield on the passenger side. That might not be so easy to source, given the rarity of this model truck.

The truck will be sold with a quantity of extra parts, literature and various other Studebaker factory items collected by a previous owner.

If you like old trucks, this one stands out for its rarity and good looks, even in its present unrestored condition. The body land frame appear to be in amazing condition, considering this is an 80 year old truck that was in use for as much as 30 years. If you like restoring old trucks, while this Studebaker will be a challenge, I also think it will be a thoroughly rewarding project.

The seller does not say anything about the engine or interior of this truck. I am pretty sure it should be equipped with a 282 cubic inch Waukesha engine. Studebaker originally called their M-series “Metros” or Metropolitans, but International Harvester put a stop to that, as they already owned the Metro name.

The Studebaker Museum in South Bend has one of these trucks. It would be cool to know what kind of a body the truck for sale here had originally, and what company used the red and yellow colors on it now. No matter its history, it will be wonderful to see this great example of American history on the road again.


  1. Howard A Member

    One one hand, I’m glad someone had the insight to stash this truck away. On the other hand, its almost obscene what it’s going for. I’m not going to argue if the price( over $13g’s already) is justified. It only shows how much someone really wants it and it’s rarity. One thing for sure, it’s not going to remain like this for long, and someone will pour literally tens of thousands into this, to make a resto-mod car hauler, like Counting Cars flatbed. It really would be the most logical choice, since the museum already has one ( great place, btw) As a side note, you wouldn’t see many of these on the road. Transportation was very different in the 30’s. RR was king, and trucks like this would go to the RR depot in a city, load the truck and make city deliveries. With the back of the cab so nice, I’d say it had to have a box ( or tank) on the back. Still can’t believe what this is selling for.

    • Howard A Member
      • Vince Habel

        Looks like it is the truck owned by Jerry Kurtz.

    • David W Member

      Howard – I think this truck is exceptionally beautiful, but I agree with you about price. Our world has gone insane when it comes to valuing old cars and trucks. Where does all this money come from anyway?

      • Howard A Member

        Hi David, I’m convinced it’s “old money”. I spent some time in upstate NY, and I saw 1st hand how people WITH money spend it. Money, I’m sure was handed down. It’s in stark contrast to how I spend money. If they want something, price is not an issue. To have the item is more important. Would we be any different? Probably not. It just eliminates the people without money, of having any chance of enjoying these things.

  2. Theodoric

    I love the Studebaker museum! Here’s another view of the one there I took a couple years ago. Beautiful truck.

    Even scarier than the $13k+ ebay bid is it hasn’t met the reserve!

  3. Pete Grave

    Windshield EASY flat glass and frame is there and looks OK.

  4. DrinkinGasoline

    I love COE’s. I’ve often thought of dropping a COE cab on my 84 4×4 F Series frame with a Sterling 10.5 rear with dualies.

  5. '63 Lark Daytona

    Is that glass really flat? Hard to tell, even studying the lower part of the frame

    • sebtown

      Studebaker didn’t used curved glass windshields until the late forties. There is a lot of information available on the history of automotive glass to be found and it’s pretty interesting.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    A truck as rare as this and as complete as this should be restored and then preserved and enjoyed in all its 30’s glory. I understand people’s thinking about taking the cab and fenders and dropping it onto a modern chassis to be used as a car hauler. The owner does have that right. But the chassis will end up discarded and the cab and its new chassis will run its course and wind up forgotten in some back 40.

    Like 1
  7. Rustytech Member

    I would restore this as a car hauler, but with it’s original chassis, and a bolt on bed, that way a future owner could simply change it to whatever they wanted easily.

  8. jimbosidecar

    There’s a restored one in Arizona that I’ve been out to see a couple times. As beautiful as the one in South Bend.

  9. Tommy

    $19,200 and reserve not met!

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Sold for $20K even. 63 bids.

  11. Bob C.

    Definitely flat glass, just shaped a little odd. I did it for many years.

  12. Jay bodle

    Yep now own the one in Az couple more weeks will be driver needed all new brakes tires wiring was all cut but engine pretty much driver as of 5/24 brakes done new tires wiring up dated lic reg insurance gonna roll

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