Survivor Coupe: 1937 Studebaker Dictator

1937 Studebaker Dictator Coupe

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Studebaker didn’t always pick the best of names for their cars, of course prior to the Cold War the name Dictator probably didn’t conjure up the same emotions that it did later on. Regardless of naming conventions, they sure built some amazing cars! Just look at this ’37 Dictator coupe, even in rough shape it’s beautiful! You don’t find these coupes very often, but I’m not sure about the seller’s asking price of $20k. You can find this Studebaker here on eBay in Woodville, Ohio.

1937 Studebaker Dictator Interior

This project is in need of a lot of work, including plenty of rust repair. It has one major thing going for it and that’s that it’s original. Many of these cars ended up being chopped up and turned into hot rods, making this a rare find.

1937 Studebaker Dictator

The seller claims that this car’s big six still runs well and that it drives around the yard. If it were mine, I would struggle deciding what to do with it. These cars look amazing when in pristine condition, but at the same time you can’t ever make it original again. I guess I would start by making it safe to drive and then see where I want to go from there. How about you?

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  1. JoeW

    Drop a zero and I’ll take it.

    Like 0
  2. Matt Tritt

    Heil Studebaker! I dunno. It just doesn’t have the right je nais se quois somehow….

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  3. Russell

    Dudes and dudetes! I think this is one bad A$$ $tude. There is so much potential here no matter which direction one decides to take it. When I look at this car it screams to me to take it where no other $tude has been before. Okay, I’ll calm down and take a chill pill, but come on man give this $tude some love!

    Like 1
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Russell, I’m with you on the Stude.

      Not sure it’s worth $20K but it appears complete and reasonably? solid.

      The cost of restoration will likely eclipse the value.

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  4. James HGF

    Mid 1937 saw the beginning of the ’37 – ’38 recession that was a kick in the teeth for what had been the on-going recovery from the depths of the recession. In the news was the Hindenburg disaster (6 May ’37) and Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. But more devastating international news was Japan’s invasion of China. Which drew most American’s attention and concern? Americans in large part believed that what happened beyond our shores in Asia and Europe might be of concern, but was not our problem.

    The asking price for this bottom of the line (or is it?) Studebaker Dictator is obviously too high. It may not be the bottom of the bottom line if it has the $20 optional “Planar” front suspension rather than the straight axle. Beyond that is it a 3-passenger Business coupe, 3-passenger Custom coupe or 5-passenger Custom coupe? List was $765, $820 and $845 respectively. All powered by the 90 bhp six rather than the 115 bhp eight of the President (top of the line) model.

    Some interesting and quirky bits found in Studebaker Cars by James H. Moloney for the ’37 model year.

    1. “…Dictator Custom 2-door sedan came as a business vehicle for many types of use.”
    Photo shows it being used as a “mini-ambulance” without the folding front right half seat.

    2. A photo of a ’37 President provided by a dealership for the ’37 Vanderbilt Cup Races with the caption stating in part, “Seen here from the Italian Racing Team is Scuderia Ferrari.” Of course Sucderia Ferrari was the Alfa Romeo racing team and the driver pictured is Dr. Giuseppe “Nino” Farina (Doctor of political science).

    3. There is a photo of Tazio Nuvolari in a President Cruising sedan with signage on door giving his name and status as 1936 winner of the Vanderbilt Cup Race. He too was a Scuderia Ferrari Alfa driver.

    5. “This 1937 President 6-passenger Cruising sedan with sun roof is probably the rarest model of Studebakers built in the 1930s”, caption of photo with young woman resting her elbows on the roof as she enjoys the open air vista of the stationary President. Interesting. How many were built? How many exist?

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    • Ed P

      FDR’s advisors were concerned about the US debt and advised the President to pay it down. The ’38 recession was the result of those efforts.

      Like 0
    • fleet butterfield

      Could you post or email me a pic of it being used as an ambulance? I belong to a Studebaker club and publish a monthly newsletter. It would be cool to publish that pic. Thanks

      Like 0
  5. Wayne

    very little rust????? I’d hate to see a car that he describes as lots of rust. He has some amazing cars in his collection, look at one of the pictures in his Ebay ad.

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  6. RoughDiamond

    I love this old Studebaker. This is a car that should have been featured in the animated Disney movie, “Cars”. Just look at it from the front, it just looks “happy”.

    Like 1
  7. James HGF

    I imagine that if this coupe had the Planar independent suspension the seller would have pointed out such a unique feature. This article from the Studebaker Car Club of New South Wales detailing the 14 year restoration of a 1935 Commander Eight with a boat tail roadster body has definitive photos of the Planar suspension about 1/4 down the page:

    Impressive Studebaker roadster from down under.

    Like 0
    • starsailing

      James good article. Pictures are worth a thousand words…I wish I had taken more photos of the cars I worked on through the years. Yanking out engines and replacing them 2-3 times over weekend to be able to drive something to work on Monday, or the artificial limits mom would put on us boys to get it done asap, you just didn’t think down the road to document the process/hell we went through to get the dream muscle cars back on the road overnight. Scars on the knuckles, etc are badges of honor or stupidity that will remind us of days gone by. Mine is the broken bones in rt foot never fixed that is sticking up….Stuffing the 348 back in the 58, done with the hoist, tell buddy hold onto the hydraulic jack as I disassemble upper hoist arm….he didn’t. Take photos and videos of your work…..something to be proud of in later years…or not! The scar across the chest?….Broken heart…Angie Baker…1969….!

      Like 0
      • Ross W. Lovell

        . Greetings All,

        Starsailing, not my story, but one heard from the man that did it with his wife backing him.

        Years back, I bought someJaguar parts from an older gentleman. He obviously lived through the Depression and had raised a family, cars were a big part of his life. Sometimes, I just think it’s worth taking time after loading the parts to socialize. So glad I did.

        He mentioned having an album and the cars he owned were interesting enough that I would have sat through a slide show.

        Many of his purchases were from a junk yard he frequented, pictures of Rolls, Bugattis, Hispanos that he owned even though he was of minimal finances during the time. Many cars had been scrapped by the wealthy for reasons that now would be considered crazy.

        He had been lucky enough to secure a good job along with a piece of land a couple of hundred miles from his home in Connecticut which was to be a vacation home as he had time to build it.

        The Second World War was happening and rationing was keeping people close to home which didn’t fit his plans. He decided to fit an overdrive to his wife’s car to help keep gas consumption to a minimum.

        He explained how every night he would drill two holes, if lucky, after he finished work. He mentioned that it took him close to two weeks to do all the drilling.

        Then he mentioned that he wished he could have borrowed the drill from work where he was an engineer on helicopters. The purpose was, it would have been much faster. The point almost lost on me, I’ve led a pretty easy life in comparison.

        He hand-drilled the holes. Hand-drilled in my mind meant a Milwaukee or similar corded drill. His definition of hand-drill consisted of a u-shaped shaft that rotational power is supplied by the user, no electric motor involved.

        He recounted how the house we were in had something his previous one did not, a tree with a limb strong enough to be used to pull an engine. Double good because he sold his home-made tripod lift to a friend.

        Not an ounce of bravado in this guy, an early veteran of WWII. The family photo album, was amazing with the car-centric pictures that backed him up along with his wife’s filling in when his memory was fuzzy.

        Wife and I drove away, impressed and dumbfounded. She
        asked what I thought.

        I told her, our generation are a bunch of wusses. These guys made do with what they had, where they were, did without if they weren’t inventive enough and complained about very little.

        Yeah, Wusses! Owe them a debt, that still isn’t paid.

        Like 0
  8. Wayne

    James that boatail roadster on the link you provided is a fascinating article. Just checked it on our transport registration here on australia, and disappointed to see that it stopped being registered in feb 16. Hopefully it is still in good condition and maybe on club rego now.

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  9. DolphinMember

    Marketing has come a very long way since this Stude got named the ‘Dictator’. It would be hard to imagine any company using that word as a model name, especially in the 1930s.

    Just for fun I googled ‘bad car names’ and there were quite a few lists. One of them even had the Dictator at the top of its list. Some lists showed that names in one language sometimes mean something bad or naughty in other languages. For some reason this is especially true for some models of Japanese cars.

    Like 0
    • fordfan

      Studebaker also used the name scotsman for their cheepest line of car in the 1950s try that now in 2016 .I guess back then scotsmen had a rep for bieng thrifty

      Like 0
  10. Vince Habel

    The name was supposed to dictate what future cars would be. These had good engines which would remain in production till 1960.

    Like 1
  11. John K

    Definitely the vehicle to use if you want to annex Canada.

    Like 0
  12. DENIS

    Named after a current President? Oops…he wasn’t around then…MEA CULPA…not a rant…lol

    Like 1
    • Eric Dashman

      That was a political rant. There are those of us who might say the same about the last president and his henchmen. Not amused.

      Like 0
    • Jeff DeWitt

      IF you (and Studebaker) were to get at all political about a current President the (then) current President was Roosevelt, and some people at that time would have argued that he was trying to be a dictator.

      I REALLY like this car. If it’s as solid and original as it seems I’d do what was necessary to make it a sold driver and then drive the thing for a few years while deciding what (if anything) else needed to be done.

      Like 0
  13. Matt Tritt

    I agree Dennis. On both counts.

    Like 0
  14. Rob

    I would love to have a Dictator!
    I mean… Uh….

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  15. jim s

    seller has a lot of 2 door coupes in the photos on ebay. i hope this car is kept stock. great find.

    Like 0
  16. Jay

    Such a beautiful car. Even though I am a big restomod/prostreet fan, I would keep this one as is.
    But not for 20k!
    I think 10 would be fair all around.

    Like 0
  17. Keith Matheny

    Yes, drop a zero or two, rust belt took care of the bottom, ditto the frame I’d bet.
    Although the area west of Cleveland receives less snow than the east, salt is used because of the ice. won’t sell at this price.
    Hey, money does talk!
    Try to keep the running gear, but…
    Bring a new chassis!
    Oops, wrong blog, lol!

    Like 0
    • Steven Stewart

      Fully restored they go for about 27,000 so that was way to much for sure
      I seen one on barret Jackson everything was done frame off restoration over 7k in original fabric and door panels rebuilt engine and trans. And original paint was found it went for 27,500 I bought my 36 in california no rust engine ran but needed some work for 1,500

      Like 0
  18. Robert White

    Back in 1986 I had the opportunity to buy a complete Willy’s two door Coupe for $800.00 CAD. It was all steel and very little surface rust with the front fenders taken off and the interior taken out but all the parts were in a pile in the guy’s ex-wife’s basement. It was a massive undertaking sitting before my eyes and I decided it was too much work to get into at the time. Not a month has gone by since that opportunity to get a real Willy’s and I still regret not buying it to this day.


    Like 0

    Love the styling and would get her running drive as is.

    Like 0
  20. starsailing

    This Stude has the body lines….restore it, hot rod it, gasser it, whatever happens to it…’s got the body lines that flow causing the attention it’s getting. 20 K? It’s all there….I think it’s worth it to the person who can afford it. If you want a cheaper version…you would have years trying to find the parts…..Time is money.
    I would love to see a newer early 60s Hipo Stude engine or a 65 Buick 425 2×4 setup under the hood. I could be happy with turning heads with a stock version as well….

    Like 0
  21. Ron .B

    Loved these since the 60’s . I used to deliver newspapers to a guy who had one running fenderless and channeled with a GMC six . He as always blowing diffs etc and sold it to a fellow worker at the local Ford agency . The new owner then dropped in a flathead V8 (crate motor ,found in the spares department ) and drove it around like that for a couple of years. Even without fenders it still struck a stylish line on the road ,especially sitting dwon low channeled etc.

    Like 0

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