Can’t not mention the Studillac when honoring the ’53 Starliner. Bill Frick, who had already built up a bit of a business stuffing Caddy V8s into Ford sedans (“Fordillacs”), instantly saw potential as soon as the first ’53 Studebaker coupes hit the road. The 259 cubic inch Studebaker V8 was hardly a hot number, with all of 120 (gross) hp. Transplanting a new Cadillac engine turned it into one the world’s most potent road cars in the world, with a 0 – 60 of 8.5 seconds and 125 mph top speed.
McCahill’s review is interesting also as a period piece, with his pithy comments on styling, handling and other qualities of the Studebaker as well as other cars of the time. Uncle Tom is always worth reading: modernmechanix.com
I was fortunate enough to be around while Tom was still writing. He was one of the best. Amazing how crisp and readable his words are sixty years later.
What a wonderful attitude. I was fortunate to get a subscription to the magazine at age 12. For about three years, they were the only car reviews I read.
“Can’t not mention the Studillac…”
Ah ha! Your double negative has provided proof positive… (begging the forgiveness of “CLUE” the movie…)
Loved Uncle Tom. His metaphors in automotive journalism certainly inspired Brock Yates (to a leser degree). You Tube has the ’58 car comparison desert showdown (Tom was shilling for Mopar). Flick does highlight how sloppy the GM products of ’58 were against the Mopars. Of course, Mopar was on an uphill struggle that year with the one-two punch of piss-poor ’57 quality issues and the Eisenhower recession.
I love those videos. The last one with the Cadillac’s doors and trunk flopping open is impressive. I drove a 59 Plymouth for awhile, and have no doubt that those 1958 Mopars could spank anything else when it came to pure driving.
Yeah! And the ’58 Lincoln’s shock absobers getting torn off and the left rear wheel collapsing on the air-suspension Buick.
It was sad that the ’57 Mopars, with their assembly maladies made enemies rather than repeat customers. The Mopars did get better as evidenced JP in your ’59.
I remembered the cars’ mishaps in the tests, but I’d forgotten how much fun it is listening to McCahill. “Corners as flat as a bookkeeper’s chest”, “This road has more bumps and grinds built into it than a honkey-tonk chorus gal”.
This article is a knockout in so many ways. Performance benchmarks were Ferrari and Bentley! 0-60 under 10 seconds was impressive. And it may be the origin of the coke bottle hung in the fender story. What a character. What a different and distant time.
The only true stuff I knew about (auto assembly from those days – I had cousins that worked in the industry in Kansas City and St. Louis) was an occasional candy wrapper or a section of newspaper left in a door panel/seat frame. A cousin who worked assembling Mopars in Belvidere, Ill (St. Louis) did talk about “thermoses full of libations” and using rubber mallets inside of fenders to get them to “fit” and line up. No news, really. Could’ve been Uncle Tom spreading an urban legend.
Billy, Belvidere is actually near Rockford, IL. I drove past the factory once on the way to a car show in St. Charles, it’s right next to the Interstate. I’m pretty sure my sister’s ’08 Jeep Patriot was built there. The ’92 Caravan ES my mom had was built in St. Louis, though.
I was surprised to read about the poor quality control. I had a ’51 Champion, and it seemed fairly well put together. Was Studebaker having labor issues in ’53? McCahill’s comments about the UAW line-workers seemed like they were written only yesterday!
Interesting read & thanks for the link to the MI page.
From what I can tell not much could match or top this car in 53 – Ferraris of course, Aston Martin DB2, or a Pegaso with the superchargers. Then consider if they hopped up that Caddy engine a bit…