Follow by Email

Friday, July 31, 2015

This ’54 Studebaker Convertible Reveals What Could Have Been


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

If prompted for a list of the greatest American car designs ever penned, quite a few shapes would vie for the top spots. Though not as famous as the Corvette or Mustang, the ‘50s Studebaker Starliner and Starlight “Loewy coupes” surely rank near the top. 
They were low, they were pretty, and they looked dramatically different than any of their American contemporaries circa 1953. But one thing that the Starliner shape didn’t provide was a drop-top convertible version, which makes this older modified Studebaker a bit of an odd find.

It recently surfaced on eBay and envisions the production car that could have been if Studebaker had indeed chopped the top of the Starliner coupe. There appear to be reasons why that never happened, though it certainly looks like a winner.


According to the owner, this Studebaker sat for years in a rural Virginia barn–covered, yet dusty. Its exact history is unclear, though the owner estimates its convertible modifications occurred in the ‘70s due to the car’s dated interior trimmings.

 The obvious modification is the lack of its roof, but the owner also estimates that nearly a foot and a half was cut from the Starliner’s body to create those shorter proportions. The original cars were branded as having a quintessential “European” look in the ‘50s. With its shorter wheelbase, this Studebaker fits that bill to a T.

The owner notes that the body work and paint are a little rough and leave a bit to be desired, which suggests the builder’s intentions were to create an eye-catching “driver” rather than a fit-and-finished “show car.” Despite the rough edges, the running gear is said to be in good working order. Originally a six-cylinder Champion model, this Studebaker now features a 289 cubic inch V8 from the mid-‘60s.


According to period accounts, the likely reason that Studebaker didn’t embark on a production convertible lies in the coupe’s light yet flexible chassis. With the top fully chopped, that pliable chassis could have become a full-on wet noodle. Nevertheless with some tuning and trimming, it would have made quite the car supermodel of the ‘50s.