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Rock Solid Style: 1938 Studebaker Coupe Express

Easily one of the most stunning and well styled pickup trucks in history, this ’38 Studebaker Coupe Express is a very solid example that is most certainly worthy of being restored. Purchased in California, this very solid piece of history nearly became a rat rod project, but the seller did not have the time to make his move. With any rare, obscure, and beautiful machine, the price almost always reflects those characteristics. This Studebaker could be yours for $20,000. Check it out here on craigslist out of Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks to Fred for sharing this incredible piece of stylish American history!

Under the hood resides the original flat head six that has not been touched by the seller his entire 7 years of ownership. Needless to say, the condition of the drive-train is unknown. The engine, transmission, and axle area all there, and the truck does roll and steer well. In the engine bay, there is some surface rust, but there is no evidence of rot. Overall the engine appears fairly complete, but I would imagine there are certainly some small items missing.

What you see is what you get with this interior. Although the seats and upholstery are completely missing, the floors look rock solid. Also the interior of the passenger door looks awesome as well. The steering column and dash appear complete, so there is enough of something to get this project going.

The lines are stunning, and this truck is a fabulous example. We have featured a few of these stunning trucks here on Barn Finds, but this is definitely the most solid original of the few we have featured. Remarkably the metal work is incredibly straight and damage free. It appears that the truck was stripped at one point perhaps in the effort of a restoration? There is some surface rust to work with, but I think this truck would turn out phenomenal with the right paint and body man. The difficult part of this truck will be finding the missing trim, interior, and engine bits. As scarce as these trucks are, perhaps a parts truck may be an option to acquire the missing components? Either way you cut it, this truck needs to be saved and revived. Have you ever had the pleasure of seeing one of these trucks in person?


  1. redwagon

    No mention of the driver’s door. That could be hard to source.

    Like 0
    • Butch

      Drivers door ?
      It’s on in last pic.

      Like 10
  2. Will Fox

    The `37-`39 Studebaker coupe expresses were probably the best looking light duty trucks made. Hudson had a car-based pickup after WWII that was a looker, but for shear art deco lines, you can’t beat these Studebakers. They are fairly rare today, so this one is a real find.
    However, considering the interior is nothing but a hollow shell, $20K is a little unrealistic. Not even the frame of the seat to build one from? Good luck finding one unless you come across a sedan or coupe to rob one from. No door panels or hardware either? No thanks; not enough there to warrant the price.

    Like 15
    • Ray

      Seat should be the same as a Dictator, yes? This are a little easier to come by.

      Like 1
      • Don Aust

        Sadly no. The Dictator seat was on a back and forth slide. This was actually “fixed”- in that the bottom half was built on an oak board and some brackets that fixed it to the floor when installed. I have two 37 Dictators, a sedan and Doctor’s Or Business Coupe and a 4 door as well as my Coupe Express. Have seen and handled both types of seats. I do have to say I am guessing that 37 and 38 are the same. The CE cab is very short and the little 1 1/2”-2” movement of the bottom of the rear cushion leaves little movement for comfort. Still, all said, there are few if any pickups of any make that equal the flowing beauty of the front grill and “wings” that flow back under the hood as well as the double walled bed. Look at any Ford or GM pickup back then. The beds are straight, single walled, and pretty plain. Google 1937 Coupe Express and look at photos! 👍🏻😀

        Like 5
  3. On and On On and On Member

    Spare tire location seems problematic………….

    Like 3
    • Pete Phillips

      The spare tire location is what makes it classy.

      Like 4
      • JimmyinTEXAS

        And dual side-mounts are almost sexy!

        Like 4
    • Denny

      Factory placement. I own a ’39

      Like 0
      • Dan Ouellette

        Yeoh Denny you own a 39 coupe express? Most beauitful pickup ever made in my opinion. Would love to see pictures of it for sure.

        Like 0
  4. scottymac

    I had my doubts about the asking price, but if I read this article correctly, only about 2,200 of these were made from 1937-39. Wonder how many are left? Saw my first at a NASCAR collector’s home near Maggie Valley, N.C. many years ago.


    Like 1
  5. Bill Wilkman

    I doubt the paint was stripped from this truck. Looks like normal patina to me.

    Like 0
  6. Dave

    $20k???? Time to get your head out of the glue bucket.

    Like 1
    • Denny

      Extremely RARE

      Like 0
  7. Bruce

    IF you think they are beautiful in photos, you should see one in real life. These are elegant cars for now and in the day the most stylish truck you could purchase. They were expensive but there are so many details that stand out. Like the rear fenders having the bed sweep out to meet them. That was an expensive detail. It is a shame there are not better photos of the dash as that was special as well. The spare wheel holder works fine and when painted and detailed these are stunning.

    Of course they drive and ride like the trucks they are but they certainly do not look like it. About as basic as you can get and well worth the time and effort. I would suggest 12 to 14K to be more realistic price given the interior as that is about what it will cost to have springs made or modified to fit the seat pans. Of note the windshield wipers while there are about what you would expect from the time, NOT GOOD.

    But this is now best used to go to Home Depot or such to pick up flowers and pots for spring planting, going to the Dairy Queen when you are done. or the local old style hamburger joint that has the old car show once a month. For a father (Son/Daughter) project there are few betters choices. To the new owner good luck and please post photos here when you are finished.

    Like 7
  8. Allen Member

    ‘ Sorry – too many zeros in that price…

    Like 0
  9. Don

    Saw a California 37 sell a year or so ago ( find it in search pictures- greenish, full of holes,) sell for $31 K. Restored 37s going close to 6 figures.
    Own one. 37. Restored on 37 car frame for dream driving. Would not part with it under 90K. Maybe not then. Yes, 38 sidemount is way high in fender- notsogood. PS the seat is NOT compatible with cars. A good upholsterer could get the springs done. Bottom is removable but no adjustment. Back, seperate, has a 2” adjustment. Not really for tall owners- I am 6-2 and like the fit of my Coupe much better. Bet they get their money or close to it.

    Like 5
  10. GP Member

    There’s a person not to many miles away from me that has 500 Studebakers and parts. Due to age and health I was told he is going to sell. (Maybe this summer?).

    Like 1
    • Don Aust

      Tell them Vanderbrink Auctions. Also Studebaker DriversClub and Antique Studebaker Club. We need every part and car out there.

      Like 1
      • GP Member

        I will post on Barn Finds any update I hear.

        Like 2
  11. stillrunners

    Yep…..hard to find in any condition………..

    Like 0
  12. plwindish

    The Coupe Express is a drop dead gorgeous truck when finished. Seller is a tad ambitious on his selling price.

    Like 0
  13. Mike

    First, let me say that I HAVE seen one of these trucks in person. It was at the anual Vintage Trucks Magazine show in Yellow Springs, Ohio a few years ago. It was flat out gorgeous! Second, in the first few lines of this story, there were 2 words that I absolutely despise, those 2 words were “rat rod”. Back when hot rodding first started, you did what you could with the money that you had. These days, people spend tens of thousands of dollars to pay someone else to build a vehicle that looks like a piece of junk! I’m not here to judge anyone, to each their own. However, since I’m not rich, I do my own work to the best of my abilities. I don’t have the equipment or facilities for everything so what I can’t do I barter for with friends that can and they all come out looking presentable. Even if I could afford to buy everything done on my projects, I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands and tools off of them for long. I hope someone saves this beauty and brings it back to its former glory!

    Like 3

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