Real Barn Find: 1942 Studebaker M-Series Truck

Ok, for all those folks that complain you don’t see enough barn finds still in the barn on this site, this one’s for you! This 1942 Studebaker M15 or M16 commercial truck (I think it’s an M16 because it doesn’t have a pickup bed, but you can’t be sure) was presumably found as above after sitting for more than 30 years. It’s advertised here on craigslist for “first $500 takes it” and is located in Greenleaf, Idaho. Jesse, Josh, I see a need for an official shop truck — what do you readers think?

This is an immediate post-war ad, but as you can see the same basic truck was still being produced. Studebaker produced many military trucks and learned much from the experience. While we aren’t given any history at all on this truck, it’s not much of a stretch to assume it’s seen mainly farm use. The M15 or M15A would have been equipped with a Champion 169 cubic inch inline six-cylinder engine while an M16 should have been equipped with a Commander 226 cubic inch inline six. Either engine should have been coupled to a T9 4-speed manual transmission. If any of you actually get to see this truck, if it has an original fan shroud it’s an M16.

My assumption is that this picture is the truck after being rescued from the barn. By reading here, I found out this truck may actually be a late 1941 model as it still has chrome; the chrome was removed from the specifications right after Pearl Harbor. I’ve tried to identify the license plate exactly but my best guess is late 1960s Idaho. If anyone can do better, please post it below. I’ll put in my plea again here for an official Barn Finds truck — the price and looks are just right! And as long as you weren’t interested in going anywhere quickly, it would probably tow your finds home after a little work! What do you readers (and staffers!) think? (Note: I’m just a writer and have no role in decision making!)

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    I often wonder what the heck happened to Studebaker? They did make a good truck, especially back during the war. The M-series trucks were well built. Maybe somewhat lacking on power but they otherwise held up quite well. This would be a good project. Restore it and have a good time putting it back to work. just don’t pack too big of a load because that engine is your weak point…

    Like 3
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      I’m curious — weak as in power or weak reliability? Thanks!

      I still think it would make a great official Barn Finds truck… :-)

      Like 4
      • azd

        Power, with the 170. Even for the time it was a very small engine better suited to cars. In truck duty it was normally matched with extremely low rear end gears to compensate.

        The 226 would be much better. I had a later 245 (stroked 226) that was one smooth, solid, reliable engine. I never felt it was underpowered until going up 6% mountain grades. I really did like that engine.

        Like 5
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Just weak, as in power. The way I see it Stude should’ve put the 226 in the smaller trucks and gone all the way with the 245 in the larger trucks. The 245 could hold its own quite well. I remember back in the day when a few of these trucks were used on farms and they could handle a 15K lb. payload as well as anything there. But I heard some stories that the 226 was scary pulling a hill with a full load. For some reason a Chevy with a 216 had a lot more going for it when it came down to brute lugging power. I might add that our ranch headquarters was on a riverflat with a pretty good drop from the plains above. When it was time to haul grain we saw everything go down the road. Coming down into the riverflat was no problem, but the men were quickly separated from the boys going up the other side (We really lost out because we HAD to start from the bottom). I can’t really say who won the race back in the late 50s and early 60s. There were a lot of drivers who were highly skilled in driving those old underpowered 3-tons. I remember a guy running a ’51 Binder with a Black Diamond in it (we had one just like it and I would actually have to give it the edge) and he embarrassed himself by missing a shift and having to go up the other side in Granny/Granny. The next one up was our neighbor with a ’51 Chevy with a 216. He was slow but he still had a couple of downshifts when he crested the other side. I rebuilt that 216 for the guy back in the 70s, and it’s still in use today…

        Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      Like with most closings, it wasn’t one particular thing, but a series of bad decisions, and according to this piece by Pat Foster, the union didn’t help matters either. These were great trucks, probably helped win the war, and the Champ, in the final years, was a great truck as well, but I don’t think it mattered what Studebaker made, the Big 3 ( or 4, including IH) sealed the coffin.

      Like 3
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Mr. Foster hit that right on the head. Stude just seemed to make one little blunder after another until it couldn’t pull itself back up. Very sad because there was a time when there was plenty of room in the industry…

        Like 3
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Cool stude–good luck to the new owner. How could u go wrong!!


    Like 3
    • Steve Knutzen

      Thanks 🙏 I’m the new owner I have a 62 lark OHV six with 15000 miles I may put in it

      Like 3
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Steve, be sure and post some pictures for us and keep us up to date!

  3. Kenneth Carney

    If we hadn’t gotten our ’91 Ford F-350
    project, I would’ve been all over this one.
    The price is definately right. Yeah, the
    shipping cost from Idaho to Florida very
    well would’ve broke the bank, but it would
    have been worth it. Down here, you just don’t see too many trucks that don’t say
    Ford, Dodge, or chevy on them. Last one
    I saw was about 30 years ago when a
    gentleman down the street owned a.’70
    IH short box pickup that I nearly bought
    cheap. Wonder what that truck would do
    with a 225 slant six in it. Yeah jeff, this
    would make a staff project. Just post
    your progress in video form so we all can
    follow along.

    Like 4
  4. mikestuff

    I know very little about Studebaker products, but my parents owned what I remember being told was a 1953 Pickup. We lived in Lovelock, NV (about 90 miles east of Reno on I80) which is where I was born in 1949. I have memories of living there but I think mostly what others have told me about it and a few pictures. By 1955, they decided to move back to Utah where they were from originally, driving the 1953 Studebaker truck, with them, a 12 yr old, a 5 yr old(me) and a 3 yr old in the cab. The truck was what I remember being called “baby poop brown”, which my mother hated. I’m including the only picture I have which was that same year on a picnic with my Aunt Leona and Uncle Wayne, in their 1954 Mercury (I think) and other family. My dad is in picture with the light colored hat. Within a few months, they had traded the Studebaker for a 1955 Chevy sedan, yellow and green. My dad always had a pickup of some kind as I was growing up and I learned to drive on 1960 Ford (in about 1964).

    Like 10
  5. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Had both the small six with 3 on the tree in a 3/4 ton that worked pretty hard for what it was. My big 6 was in a Stude fifth wheel tractor with a gasoline tanker on back. Drove it – empty – out of West Dallas to my place in Duncanville. Have a video of me moving it around after the kids broke the windows out. Need to sell my M series truck.

    Like 1

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