The Only Known Example: 1954 Studebaker Truck

When I set out to write up this particular vehicle my first thought was that it was probably the largest vehicle that I had written about. Clearly I had forgotten about the 1968 Peter Pirsch Ladder Truck that I wrote about a few weeks ago. While it is nowhere near as large as the aforementioned vehicle, this 1954 Studebaker is no less worthy of an article. Listed here on eBay in Easton, Pennsylvania and having a clear title, this beauty could quite easily be yours for a BIN of $12,500, but with the option to make an offer. This may well be a vehicle to take quite seriously if you are searching for a truly collectable addition to your garage.

The seller makes the bold claim that this particular example is the only 3R-28 model Studebaker known to exist. Honestly I sometimes take such claims with a pinch of salt. However, this time there is actually a real possibility that this seller could be very, very right. The 3R-28 was just one model of the entire 3R range. The 3R range was only in production for a total of 8 months in 1954 and total domestic build numbers across the entire range was 4,160 trucks. Interestingly a really thorough search of the internet has failed to locate a single 3R-28 for sale anywhere on the planet, let alone in the USA. This is a claim that may well stand up to scrutiny.

Structurally this particular truck looks to be in fairly good condition. The seller is candid enough to state that while the paint is essentially sound, it doesn’t hide or camouflage the dings and scratches that have simply been painted over. That being said, the appearance isn’t horrendous, so the new owner may be willing to live with it. I guess that it’s really a matter of whether the new owner has a desire to return the truck to somewhere near concourse condition in light of its purported rarity. One big plus is the wheels and tires: The seller has taken the trouble to have the 6 wheels sandblasted and resprayed, and all sport new tires at a reputed cost of $2,200.

Under that substantial hood rests a thumping V8. If this is the standard engine then its displacement should be 232.6ci. Once again the seller hasn’t been miserable when it comes to maintenance and upgrades. The engine was rebuilt in November 2017 and at the same time the clutch and pressure plate were replaced along with new brake cylinders. The seller states that the majority of the work was undertaken by Witmer’s Garage in Ephrata, Pa, who are a Studebaker specialist.

The interior is a little bit rough, but it’s serviceable. Let’s face it, this isn’t a Rolls or a Cadillac. This is a work vehicle designed for the rough and tumble of farms and industrial sites. It is eminently suited to those tasks as it stands right now. Once again it’s a situation where the only real reason to change it would be if you were undertaking a full restoration.

This is an interesting vehicle. We’ve all seen those claims that people make that their vehicle is 1-of-1, or that it’s the only one known to exist. Well, this seller makes just such a claim and there is a very real possibility that they are right. Writing this article has taken me longer than any article I’ve ever written for Barn Finds. I have spent hours researching this model of Studebaker and I simply can’t find another example for sale anywhere on the planet, let alone in the USA. So, what is it worth? I guess that’s the million dollar question. My answer would have to be: Whatever someone is willing to pay for it. If you can secure documentary proof that it’s the last of its type, then $12,500 might just be the shrewdest investment that you can make.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Nicest original ( type) vintage truck to come through here. THIS, is what old trucks are all about and why I’m so adamant about keeping them original. It doesn’t get any cooler for an old truck nut than this. Nothing is mentioned about the tilt bed and winch, very handy, and I can’t quite figure out what that cable is connected to the shift lever. Maybe for a 2 speed axle? Never saw that setup before. Usually the 2 speed is electric or vacuum. I don’t think it’s the pto, there appears to be another short lever by the hand brake for that.( up down control above speedo) I doubt the rarity will mean much to many, it’s an old truck to most, not concerned with the actual model. Priced accordingly. You couldn’t rebuild one for that.

    • Thomas Bougher

      I had a friend call today and ask if I saw this listing, as I am the owner. I did not and am glad he called. Lots of interesting comments. This truck is the only 3R-28 known to exist, either by me (the owner) or by the Studebaker Drivers Club). It was pictured and commented on about 4-5 years ago in their national magazine. I heard no comments at that time about it being the only known example. That being aside it has the original 232 v-8 which was correctly identified by the writer. The button on the shifter is for the Timkin two speed rear vacuum controller. It has a four speed tranny. It has a tilt bed which the lever on the floor controls. Also has the original Studebaker fog lights. Thanks for all the comments.

      • Ed P

        Thanks for the info!

      • WayneC Member

        I don’t know of any roster for Studebaker Trucks, nor do I Remember any article in Turning Wheels magazine that talked specifically about the rareness of 1954 E-28s. I have been a member of the Studebaker Club for 50 years come September. As I mentioned, I helped on wheat harvest with a club member from Northern Oklahoma with a completely original truck. My friend farms with ONLY Studebaker trucks. I was delivering a load of wheat from my brother’s farm (Chev
        Triuck) and was in line with another 54 E-28 that I hadn’t known about before. It was another completely original truck, but not near as good a shape as the one I drove. It might be interesting if one posts a query in Turning Wheels and ask specifically about the number remaining. If proof you need, I would be happy to furnish you with the owners information if you want to contact me privately. But to just say that yours is the only one is going too far.

      • Wrong Way

        I am very glad that you took the time to set all those knuckle heads straight! So many people who post comments really are trying to impress themselves! LOL, young whipper snappers,what can you expect tho! They hide behind their texts so they don’t get embarrassed! LOL have a great day!

  2. Mark

    I’m betting you’re right about the cable being for a 2 speed rear-ended. I used to drive a 56 MacK fire truck in my early years and it had a cable shift for the 2 speed end also.

    While the winch is obvious I bet that it doesn’t have a tilt bed. Those were few and far between back in those days.

    • Howard A Member

      Nope, it’s a tilt bed. If you look at the 3 rd picture on the ebay ( and zoom) you can see one of the rams and a hose going to it under the bed. Actually, tilt beds were pretty common on farm trucks for grain and feed hauling, this truck, of course, missing the side boards.

  3. Nevis Beeman

    At one time semi commercial beekeeper would make great use of a wee lorry like this. ! I can just see it stacked up with honey supers either full or empty.
    Or perhapes being used to move hives for pollination…..Ah yes……
    btw…The interior mirror position is interesting ! I’m

  4. chrlsful

    sold like a car – no GVW or haul capacity, info on rear gear, tire, bed, etc.

  5. jdjonesdr

    Known to exist…. to the owner. Google it in images and see how many pop up.

    May be the only known to exist for sale.

  6. S Craig MacDonald

    Those front bumper guards can’t be original. Why would someone put those on??

  7. Wrong Way

    I love all things Studebaker! I would love to have it, but I just can’t! I would definitely build a old looking peak style camper on the flatbed! I would only use it for permanent living! LOL, I have to find a way out of sight from my son and his wife! They watch me like a hawk since that darn heart attack!

    • Ed P

      My wife does the same thing to me since my quadruple bypass! Sheeeesh

      • Wrong Way

        I know, right?

  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    First year for the V/8 in the Stude trucks is maybe why – when most just preferred a good o’six.

  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    Being equipped with a V8 is a rare occasion for these. At least the ones out west were mostly powered by sixes. Nice truck! Great for the acreage. The V8 would help take that antique tractor to the threshing show in a speedy and classy manner.

  10. P T Cheshire

    According to the Turning Wheels article on this truck from 2014, only 180 of these 3R28 trucks were built in 1954, and that is domestic and export.
    This has radio, heater, power brakes, V8, 4 speed, two speed Timkin rear , Hill Holder hydraulic tilt bed and winch.
    jdjonesdr apparently found many more than the Studebaker club could.

  11. AZD

    These Studebaker C-cabs are great trucks. Very comfortable to sit in. Everything is in just the right spot. Plus the styling is as good as anything from the era, maybe better.

    The 1-of-1 or whatever always makes me laugh. It’s like a useless sports statistic. “This is the first time we’ve ever seen a hole-in-one by a left-handed Canadian before noon on Boxing Day, with an ambient temperature of 11 degrees Celsius and lightning in the forecast. What a historic moment!”

    You really have to care about the minute details for any of it to matter. The reality is there were plenty of 2R/3R trucks made in lots of similar but slightly different configurations. But this is a really nice one.

  12. Mike A in MD

    As P T Cheshire said, the November 2014 issue of the Studebaker Club’s magazine “Turning Wheels” speaks of this truck, although then owned by a different person. It has a twin-piston tilt bed (per the magazine photo). As far as the SDC knows, it is the only KNOWN surviving 3R28; that may or may not be worth anything to anyone. As a Studebaker big truck owner, I’ll say that this one will take up a lot of room; I’ve corresponded with the current owner via eBay in the past, and I believe he said the wheelbase is 171″….that, and the aircraft carrier-sized tilt bed makes it a loooong truck. It IS a cool truck, yes…but the $12,500 tab is a BIG dose of castor oil to swallow !

  13. WayneC Member

    Take the claim with a grain of salt, it is far from true. I know personally of 2 54 E-28’s in my area that are used every year for wheat harvest. I drove one of them up until 5 years ago.

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