Untouched For 20: 1955 Studebaker President

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The seller claims that this 1955 Studebaker President sedan has sat untouched in the desert for over 20 years. Now it’s located in Marana, Arizona and is up for sale here on eBay with an opening bid of only $1,000.

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The 1955 President saw the re-introduction of a model name from Studebaker’s past. Although this one isn’t the top of the line President Speedster, it does reflect a higher trim level than the standard cars for this year. Compared to the clean lines of similar year Fords or Chevrolets, somehow this looks a little more dated to me, despite the sloped front end. I do like the moderate fins and the side streaks though. This car looks to have only a little corrosion and all the trim except for one front bumper guard appears to be present as well.

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The seller tells us surprisingly that it starts and runs, although no brakes are present so I’m sure the eventual purchaser will be doing some work to make the car roadworthy. I wonder why the one wheel isn’t painted white like the others; maybe it was the spare?

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For whatever reason, the seller didn’t include any interior pictures except this one. While it is a cool looking dash, I’d like to see the seats, door panels, and floors as well. They are willing to text more pictures if you want them. The President is only showing 39,703 miles, but with the little information we have to go on, you have to assume that’s at least 139,703. The original powerplant has been replaced with a 259 V8 from a Studebaker truck and a three-speed manual transmission from the same source. The shifter is floor-mounted for a sportier look and feel.

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Please pardon me showing you the engine in a split screen like this; these are the only two pictures the seller included of the engine, each showing roughly half of it. There’s not much to go by here, but the green showing through the yellow has me thinking there’s been a color change at some point. I can’t really tell much else from these shots. Overall, this looks like yet another four-door sedan that will end up selling for far below what it’s two-door brethren would. Is it worth checking out further? What do you think readers?

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Comments

  1. Blyndgesser

    At least the exterior trim is present. That’s a plus.

  2. Rick

    I cant believe this Stude went over 139,000 miles, most cars of this vintage of any make were lucky to go 100,000 with their original drive train, when something catastrophic malfunctioned say like the transimission they seldom got fixed, and went to the junk yard, because by the time they were 10 yrs old nobody wanted them because the looked so dated and you could buy them all day long for $15. Back in the 60s you would frequently have to pay to have your old non-running car hauled away. Most cars during that era lasted 10 years at the most. One exception were the 55-57 chevys that had such enduring appeal (and parts were more common and cheaper) so they survived. There were very few 50s Studes left on the road in the mid 60s (same with Hudsons, Packards, you name it) anyhow the ones left were driven by poor folks because it was all they could afford, and it was not a point of prestige to drive cars like this back then. Anyhow the 39,000 is probably the original mileage IMHO. And I think this is a cool old Stude.

  3. piper62j

    It has the beginnings of the infamous Hawk…

    Nice find..

  4. Dave h

    If it was the 2 dr HT speedster, I’d be all over it.

    Having said that, I thought that the bumper-mounted fog lights were std equipment on the President series for ’55. Not seeing those here

    • Wayne S.K.

      I’m with you, Dave h. Were it a two door, we’d have to see which one of us could get there first! 😉

  5. Charles

    This car looks mostly complete and straight.

  6. Mark

    Doesn’t look cooked enough for sitting in the desert for 20 yrs. Looks to be in good shape. Hope it’s restored.

  7. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve owned many Studebakers over the last 40+ years and remember the factory joke about “The rust begins before the paint goes on!” To keep costs down Studebaker used sheet steel that was softer [less carbon content] than the big 3 used, and combined with bodies that had many hidden dirt & moisture traps [especially at the rear edge of the front fenders], they rusted badly. This car is likely a real Arizona car as it appears rust free, a rarity for Studebakers.

    The fog lights in the bumper were optional on these cars, but I believe they were standard on the Speedster later in the year.

    In looking at the paint under the hood, yep, it was at one time green, but the factory green color available [Saginaw green] was darker. Looking closer on the firewall I can see some gray that’s a match for the factory color Tilden Gray. I think it’s been painted three times; Gray, Green & Yellow.

    As for the non-white wheel, in a cost cutting move, ALL Studebaker wheels at that time were white. Since some Ford rims do interchange with the bolt patterns being the same, it probably came off a different car.

    • Matt A.

      According to this link, in the mid-1950s Studebaker wheels were body color. They didn’t go to all-white ’til later.

      http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?20809-Wheel-color

      Earlier, they seem to have varied.

      forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?32386-Correct-paint-look-for-1950-Champ-Custom-wheels

      • Bill McCoskey

        Matt – Thanks for the correction!

  8. Ed P

    I like the looks of Studebakers in the 50’s. The Presidents and Hawks had style. However, sadly they were prone to rust. Bill McC said they scrimped on the quality of steel they used when the real problem was productivity and plant layout. Finding a clean car such as this one is hard to do, and will get harder with the passing of time.

  9. Bill McCoskey

    Ed – I do agree that Studebaker had a long going productivity problem, and an aging plant that had sections dating back to the 1880s. Studebaker never had a worker’s strike if I’m not mistaken, management caving in on worker demands every time. As a result the company had to cut costs in other ways, as employment costs were off limits. Hence buying cheaper steel.

    One huge productivity problem started in 1953 when the new Robert Bourke [of Raymond Lowey Design Studios] designed cars were introduced. Prior years saw sales breakdowns as 80% 4-door sedans & 20% 2-door cars. The new 2-door body styles were so well received, that orders were reversed — 20% sedans & 80% coupes. The factory didn’t have enough 2-door parts on hand, and they lost an incredible number of sales due to the inability to produce the cars people wanted. For some strange reason this continued well into the 1955 model year. By the time the new 1956 body redesign was offered, sales now reflected the old
    80% sedan/20% coupe orders.

    • Ed P

      Bill: After Studebaker emerged from their depression era bankruptcy, the union spent it’s own money to help Stude advertise. So they played nice with the union. They played nice to long. Management also was to generous its’ own and the stockholders and stingy on plant investments. Stude assumed it could make money with larger volume sales, but after the record ’50 & ’51 model years, sales dropped. George Mason of Nash wanted to merge the independents in the ’40s, but no one was listening. If they had, well, we will just have to imagine.

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