Rare Rig: 1937 Studebaker J5 Coupe Express

David FrankBy David Frank

This is what you get when you cross a Dictator and a pickup. It’s not the first sedan-based pickup, but it was introduced years before the Hudson Pickup, the El Camino and other car-based trucks. They didn’t sell well and only a few thousand were sold during its 3-year production. Special thanks to Matt W for finding this rare Coupe Express. It’s listed on eBay in Alameda, California. Bidding is over $22,000 at this time and the reserve has not yet been met. It is a numbers matching pickup and a lot of mechanical restoration has been completed. It is said to run and drive well, but you have to wonder about that back axel being so far forward. Hopefully, because it’s a California truck, it’s not too rusty.

This is the only peek of the inside of the cab provided. A NOS glove box door is included with the sale. Otherwise, the dash looks complete and original.

The bed appears to be in serviceable condition. Hopefully, the trunk and other bits in the bed aren’t hiding rust holes.

It looks original under the hood except for the air cleaner and dipstick. The engine has had lots of attention recently and is said to run well. This flathead six is rated at 86 horsepower.

Is that a clever way to hold the fenderson?  That’s not patina but appears to be rattle can spray paint over rust. Many of you will think even $22,000 is too much money for this truck. Luckily, for the seller, eBay bidders disagree and appear to be willing to pay at least this much and perhaps even whatever the reserve price is. These are seldom offered for sale so it’s hard to determine what this Coupe Express might be worth. If it sells, it might be worth at least some cosmetic restoration.

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  1. leiniedude
    • whippeteer

      I remembered seeing it before too. The fenders were a dead giveaway.

  2. Fred W.

    I think you patina guys could sand that thin coat of primer off and have your patina back. Then do some “shop truck” hand painted lettering on the doors. Only if you don’t want to invest in a full restore, which this one really deserves.

    • Ed

      I don’t buy patina.

  3. Jay M

    This truck has been for sale several times over the last 10 years.
    I think the lowest ask was $7,500 and the highest was $35k, unless there is a twin of this out there on eBay.

  4. Sam Sharp

    You won’t see an Escalade or an aluminum Ford pickup being criticized for their appearance when they are this old. Patina? Nope. Dust.

    As for the price, they were selling for $15.00 in the early sixties. The tires had to be replaced, most certainly the inner tubes, and maybe a ring and valve job.

    Still, this is a real truck.This coming from a guy who still chokes on the prices of a quality oil filter. “Wellll… I remember when an oil change with filter and a full tank of gas at a full service station cost less than the cost of an oil filter today!”

    I was always afraid that I ‘d grow old and become ”one of those old buzzards” that would go into a shop and bug every mechanic and customer in sight. Of course, they didn’t leave the shop on a KZ1100 ‘Gun Fighter.’ They usually left in a ‘babbitt beater’ with serious smoke and rod knocks.

  5. whippeteer

    If you take a look at images on Google, you’ll see that most of them had the rear wheels further up than the design. Probably due to using and modifying an existing frame off the line to build the trucks.

  6. Howard A Member

    They could ask whatever they want, these are incredibly rare. I read, they only made 3,000 in 1937, and I’m sure many were worked pretty hard. After all, it was a truck. Ultra rare. Hope it remains stock, but the lure of this styling on a modern chassis will be too great. I’m sure that’s what will happen to it. Does anybody know what that chrome stalk is in the center of the dash?

    • leiniedude

      Hi Howard. Looking at the ebay ad, from the front of the truck the stalk looks like a dash mounted rear view mirror.

  7. Bruce Best

    I found one that had been used as a engine hooked up to a air pump for a mine in Idaho back in the mountains. Totally Rust free and the paint was good. The fender that was still on sat as shown in these photos.

    It is hard to explain how beautiful these are when they are in good condition. The one I found was under a tin and wood post shed and had been there long before the roads into the site were eroded. If and that is a very big IF anybody wants it they will have to disassemble it and pack it out with mules or a helicopter because it is very well hidden and the near by creek and destroyed almost all of the path to where it sits.

    I think it was nearly new when it drove in there and has been under cover almost since day one.

    This is a truck well worth restoring. I am not certain of what the going price is for one right now but comments that they are extremely rare are understating the case. These are almost like hens teeth. They are also much smaller than you might think and I suspect that is part of the reason for the limited sales in the day. Nothing wrong with the chassis, engine and especially not the looks.

    • george sapia

      hello i would like the location and owners name or contact i would love to get it out of there thank you george 805 272 5073

  8. C. Wallace

    Hudson started building commercial vehicles in 1929. Friend has a ’34Hudson pickup, cool truck. Studebaker wasn’t the first.

    • george sapia

      neither hudson or studebaker built a ute..

  9. healeydays
  10. Puhnto

    Always and forever, one of the prettiest pickups ever made!

  11. lawrence

    “It’s not the first sedan based truck”…..you lost me at first….my grandpa had one as a shop truck late 30’s thru the war….

  12. Mountainwoodie

    Something doesnt make sense….listed for 2224.00 in Healey’s link and now and in the recent past asking 35 K…and with the same pictures and the same trunk in the bed? Somebody call John and get the scoop……


  13. bruce haag

    I have a bed that I had no idea what it was until now.

    • george sapia

      i have a cab

  14. leiniedude

    Well, it’s moving on now. Winning bid:US $36,700.00
    [ 57 bids ]


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