Cohort Capsule: Studebaker M15 One Ton Pickup – Tough, Handsome And Slow

(first posted 2/19/2012)     You already know why I’m drawn to this Studebaker M15 posted at the Cohort by safe as milk/wooriegi. And a full one-tonner, no less. Based on my overloading formula, I could haul three tons of gravel in this baby. Very slowly, that is. Studebaker’s quite delightful new M-Series trucks that appeared in 1941 and were built through 1948 were all powered by the little Champion six; 170 cubes (2.8 L) and 80 horsepower (except the 1½ ton M16, which rated the 226 inch six). But there were other compensations that make this a very appealing truck.

Studebaker was struggling in the latter thirties, and that included their truck line. The brilliant compact 1939 Champion was a success, and generated enough profits to tool up a new line of trucks for 1941. And Studebaker did that quite rationally, using as much of the Champion’s pieces as possible.

That included a direct transplant of the Champ’s dash, resulting in one of the finer truck dashes of the era.

The bed is steel, which surprises me somewhat. Wood was much more typical, with Chevy trucks keeping the planks all the way through 1966 (Update: wood was still available longer, optionally on the widebed, and standards on the Stepside beds)

Being a one-tonner, this M15 has serious axles and wheels, the kind that are designed to be used as duals on the back. In the stake-bed version, that’s what would have been used.

Where does its particularly well-designed cab come from? The studios of Raymond Loewy, who’s firm had the contract with Studebaker for many years.  Like the Champ, these trucks are quite compact, which was a primary objective for Loewy. The little side-valve six might have been a bit undersized, but it was a sweet-running mill. And with the right gearing; well, 45 mph might have been about top speed for this one. If that.