(first posted 7/6/2011) No, this multi-hued Studebaker Champ is not trying to be artistic. Its cab appears to have been stitched together out of a number of junkyard Champs (Anderson Bros. is a truck junkard, after all). And rather appropriate, because Studebaker stitched the Champ together out of the body dies in its junkyard out back, more or less. Sounds a bit harsh, but as we’ve seen over and over, when it comes to the dying years of the independents, necessity is the mother of desperate acts of cobbling up things from whatever one has on hand. Or can beg from someone else. Now this particular one is also missing some major 20th Century components, but fear not, this Champ has a very viable future in the 21st Century indeed.
So what exactly did Studebaker cobble up with its new for 1960 Champ? Well that depends on which pair of glasses you’re wearing. Now I’m not exactly famous for wearing my rose-colored glasses very often, but I’ll humor you and slip them on for a paragraph or two:
The Champ is often held up as a prophetic pickup, inasmuch as it has a genuine passenger car cab, conveniently borrowed from the Lark, which itself was of course nothing but a 1953 Studebaker sedan with its front and rear ends drastically shortened. Strictly speaking, the Lark wasn’t a true compact; more like a stubby mid-sized car. Which of course explains how its front half fit so handily on Studebaker’s 1949 vintage frame. Ooops; the glasses are slipping already.
Yes, although some claim the Champ to be some brilliant marriage of passenger car comfort and truck utility, their glasses are rosier than mine. The reality was that Studebaker’s 1949 vintage truck cab was hopelessly out-of date looking by the late fifties (1959 model above), and Studebaker couldn’t afford the dies for a new one. Presto: the front half of a Lark four-door sedan with a new rear panel fit quite well on the old chassis. And there was nothing particularly passenger-car-ish about the ride its solid horse-wagon front and rear axles afforded. But that’s the essence of the Champ; what you see is what you get: a 1949 Studebaker truck with a shortened 1953 Studebaker sedan cab.
But Studebaker called it “all-new”. And these very-well dressed folk seem mighty impressed indeed! Why not? And what else was Studebaker to do, given their plight? And folks bought it, metaphorically and literally; at least for a year (probably not the suits in the picture). The “all new” 1960 model created a nice little bump in sales, but that began to quickly crack in 1961, starting with the cylinder heads.
The 1960 models still had the old 170 and 245 CID flathead sixes, as well as the 259 and 289 V8s. But for 1961, the little six got a new OHV head, and it was problematic. It did bump power from 90 to 112 hp, but its rep got bad quicker than it accelerated the Champ to thirty.
The other thing the 1961 models sported was a fashionable new “Spaceside” beds, which obviously didn’t fit the cab at all. That’s because the beds came courtesy of Dodge. There was no way Studebaker could afford a new bed. Now the Champ really was a Frankenbaker. Or Studodge. Or Lardge. Or?
Just for historical perspective, Studebaker made a fairly full line of trucks until its end in South Bend, but the larger ones still used the old cab. The biggest of them, like this E 45 (picture by CC Cohort Dave_7), used Detroit Diesel engines and could haul a semi trailer full of new Larks and Champs.
Now before we take a closer look at this Champ, let’s also just consider the front end styling similarities of our two Curbside Classics today.
Well, the actual Lark’s grille was a didn’t have those bars, but a textured inset even more like the Valiant. Worth pondering, and remembering that the Lark came out just one year before the Valiant. I’m not implying cribbing; design ideas are never created in a vacuum, and this was a popular theme, especially with Virgil Exner at Chrysler and Duncan McRae at Studebaker. There was plenty of cross-pollination of ideas between them. (Update: turns out my speculation was right on the money: Here’s out full story on how that came to be)
So that’s been the good news about the Champ. Or was it the bad? Depending on your point of view, the bad/good news is that this one is not even complete; it’s more of what you would call a glider kit. A peek through those bars show that the engine compartment is bare. It’s not a problem; it’s an opportunity! Here’s the chance to update the Champ for the 21st Century. What shall it be? An Ecotec turbo four and transmission from a Solstice/Sky? A biodiesel from a??
The interior is really ready for a modernizing update; look how open and airy it feels, like taking down the interior walls of an old house. Just hang an LED panel from the cowl, put in some modern buckets, and cover the rest in some mod organic material, like woven hemp. A bamboo strip floor will complement nicely. This truck is just waiting for a fresh new start and some creative thinking.
But those power train choices are already so late 20th Century. We need to really put on our futurist hats, and the future is embedded in this very Champ.
Yes, this Champ has a genuine Studebaker bed out back. Now that should inspire something: this bed is the very last direct descendant of what made Studebaker successful in the first place;
Wagons, the animal-powered kind. Starting in 1852, Studebaker grew to become the largest manufacturer of wagons in the 19th century.
Well, what else? It’s back to the future: a horse drawn Champ! It will be the darling of Eugene, when it shows up every Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market with a load of fresh organic vegetables from the local farms.
Wow, I’d known the Champ was a dogs breakfast, but that 61 bed! As we saw with their advertising a few weeks ago Studebaker did not have the resources to care one bit about what was going out the door.
Amazing that Studebaker had the funds for the Avanti experiment but couldn’t afford to tool up a properly-sized metal box.
I Love it very much like the one I saw in OZ not all there but enough to be confused with an early Valiant Running gear ok this has to be a 21st century revival so how about Toyota Hilux D4D common rail diesel, 5 speed, transfer case, both diffs, Im sure the vintage Stude frame could cope interior from the same source Surfs and Luxes are everywhere a kwik shot of primer to tidy the panels and away ye go there aint any point in going back to original even stude didnt try that
When I was young, one of these lived down the street from me. My neighbors were Studebaker people. A red Champ pickup was the last one my friend’s dad used as an everyday driver, well into the 70s, after he retired his Avanti from daily service. I seem to remember it as a 61, but do not recall him having engine problems. However, he was quite good with a wrench and worked for an auto parts company, so he probably had the ability to sniff out a good head and swap them out over a weekend if necessary.
His was the 6 with the stick on the floor. It was old when he bought it, and had that wide bed. I never knew until now that it was from an obsolete Dodge, but even then I knew that there must be a story because it plainly did not fit. The red paint looked like it had not seen a wash or wax since the mid 60s, but the body wasn’t too bad. The interior was straight out a Lark sedan as well. It was the first time I ever saw duct tape upholstery. But at least it had a cool looking set of mag wheels on it. I guess it doesn’t matter what you drive to work when you have an R2 Avanti in the garage.
The one other thing that sticks out as the result of Studebaker’s scavenger-hunt engineering is how the front bumper hangs several inches below the indentations obviously designed for bumper clearance when that front end was on a car. I wonder if the name Champ was the result of being able to use old stamping dies that had been used for Champion nameplates in the 50s? I’m betting yes.
I have a hard time seeing this as prescient. Studebaker had offered a conceptually similar pickup with a passenger car cabin in the late thirties — the 1937 Coupe-Express. Hudson launched something similar in 1939, and of course Ford Australia had introduced the ute in 1934. The U.S. Ranchero followed in 1957, with the El Camino in 1959. So, it was not a new idea by any stretch. A handy expedient, yes; prophetic, no.
I was parroting the positive spin that exists on the Champ; that it was somehow forward looking to mate a passenger car cab with a truck chassis, and as such predicting the general trend of trucks becoming more “comfortable” or passenger-friendly.That trend was inevitable, and underway already anyway.
I don’t think Studebaker was trying to create a truck in the Ranchero/El Camino idiom. And it clearly wasn’t in that category.
What many forget is that prior to WW2, many light trucks also shared cabs with the passenger cars. Unique light-truck cabs were a fairly recent phenomena, at least at the time of the Champ. Back to the future that way too.
Yeah, I assume Studebaker’s reasoning here revolved around expedience and cost, much like the Lark itself.
Unique chassis-cabs for pick-ups weren’t that new in 1960. I think the divergence really started around the time closed bodies started to overtake open bodies in the late twenties. By the late thirties, trucks like the Coupe-Express were the exception, rather than the rule, although obviously there were still commercial versions of passenger cars (station wagons, sedan deliveries, etc.) well into the fifties.
The US was late in building utes every make available in OZ had a ute from little Ford Anglias on up Chev utes were top of GMH s pile sbove Vauxhall and Holden Ford had Mainline utes as the pinacle down to Zephyrs Prefects Anglias even Armstrong Siddley made a ute.Pickups were around but sedan based utes were much more popular.
Definitely — it was much more popular in Oz than here. By comparison, the U.S. examples (Coupe-Express, Hudson Big Boy, early Ranchero and El Camino) really didn’t sell very well, and they never sold nearly as well as standard pick-up trucks.
Ok, I have been trying to paste a picture of a 99 Cadillac Escalade, which I have always thought bears an uncanny resemblence to the Studebaker Champ front end. Probably not the look they were going for. The Valiant just makes it more spooky.
But my lack of computer skills tells me that everyone will just have to imagine it or go look it up.
It’s just like adding an image for one of your posts. Are you trying to do it directly from the web? You probably have to download it first, then upload it from your PC. That’s what I just did:
You mean like this?
Gawd you manage to do whole posts wish I could figure that one out pics are easy
God Bless the Champ (and long live Studebaker). The Champ (along with the Lark, and, Duncan McRae’s “$1.98 budgeted-1958-Studebaker-restyle) was Studebaker being handed lemons – and making lemonade.
Stude trucks were rugged, durable, reliable pieces of machinery. The Lark based 90hp six too weak? No problem – move up the the old Commander long stroker six or the strong-heavy V-8s.
Yes – the conversion from L-head to OHV with early ’61s were troublesome (and expensive for cash-strapped Studebaker to fix under warrantly), but once that was licked, they were pretty good trucks.
In retrospect, these Champs were just a stopgap, I suppose, for a new (truck) product that never (could) come to be.
A shame that rig is gutted that way. There’d be almost no way to find or fabricate a workable dash substitute…the only thing left for that unit is parts donation. Which of course it’s already seen plenty of.
The whole story, the write-up and the story of decline and failure it’s written about, alternates between deep-sigh depressing and morbid-curiosity engaging. I’ve always thought the Champ was a good answer, expedient and also clever, to the Pickup Problem at Studebaker. I’m sure the El Camion and Ranchero were a comfort to them, even though they weren’t really trying to duplicate that market. Maybe, someone must have thought, we really are riding a trend.
Of course it was a different CLASS of car/truck. Just as the Rabbit pickup was an entirely different vehicle from the Rampage. But it was a pickup; a serious working truck, even if the side-sculpting lines didn’t match; and it apparently had a bigger share of the market than did Studebaker cars.
Here’s the million-dollar question, though: Just how much money could tooling to make matching side-stampings on the styleside pickup boxes, have cost? We’re talking something elementarily simple here…A BOX. Not even the WHOLE box; just TWO STAMPINGS on the sides.
Studebaker wasn’t THAT broke. The same time they cobbled together that Frankendodebaker, they bought Onan; STP; Gravely. They had the money; maybe in doing everything on the cheap, failure became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Maybe if they’d saved money on their half-baked OHV designs, and just contracted to buy GM power…they could have lasted a little longer and ended a little better…
I reckon since this is Studebaker the entire dash fro another model would bolt right in no fancy fab needed christ every other piece is froom some other model why not the dash. I am astounded at how much Stude did with so little money and a sawsall These guys were old skool hot rodders with a factory to play in they almost tailor made every model using one original car then sold them, mind how many people Knew what they were up to at the time?GMH has produced some great cars from the world GM parts bin and no money they build very good cars with nothing but cast off Opels and Chevs to play with but Studebaker are amazing With little more than a wrecking yard they built all these different models The money went elsewhere.
I have no idea how it is Down Under with worn-out cars and trucks; but here…where much of the nation gets a lot of snow every winter; where they de-ice the roads with rock salt…there simply ARE no more Studes in wrecking yards.
There weren’t that many to begin with; and the last Champ was made in 1963. The Larks that year and later used a different cowl and the dash won’t fit. So it would have to be a 1959-1962 Lark or a Champ.
And the boneyards, except for a handful of specialty lots like this one, have long ago crushed the Studebakers and sent them off to (then) Japan or (now) China.
…Blimey, mate! I know ya turns a wrench for a living, but DO try to break your comments down into sentences and paragraphs. Makes it a lot easier for us Yanks, with our limited attention-spans, to read.
No such thing as road salt down here. Heck, in most of Australia there’s no such thing as snow. Metal lasts a long time here!
Somewhere I have picture of myself, stranded by an unexpected 8 inches of snow at Mt Hotham, on a bike trip through Victoria…in February. A great day to cross the Australian Alps. 🙂
Supposedly the Aussie slang “freezing” means any temperature below 25°C.
Ancient Greeks & Romans made do without punctuation or even spaces, and the Jews, no vowels either. Only barbarians like us need those crutches!☺
My Champ title says 1964.
At almost any car show you see street rods with custom dashboards, so I’m sure something could be done here. I always prefer the stock metal to custom stuff, but some of these guys are miracle workers with a metal bender. All it takes is money….
By the time this was designed, the board of directors of Studebaker had pretty much decided that they could no longer compete in the automobile business, and any money the did make was spent on diversification. The idea was that the Studebaker corporation, not Studebaker cars, would survive.
Although we all love cars, sometimes companies are best served by facing reality and stopping production of cars. Yeah, we all cry over the failing of Nash and Hudson – and we all conveniently forget that both those brands (especially Hudson) were a complete drug on the market by the mid-50’s, yet that neat little Rambler was selling nicely. So two vintage brands are gone, and the company survives to compete again for another thirty years.
Studebaker was the same – by 1962, despite the short term success of the Lark, it was obvious that they couldn’t compete unless they came up with a whole new car. Everything new, except possibly the engine and transmission. And there was no way they could do that.
The only reason they even bothered to build ’65’s and ’66’s in Canada with Chevrolet engines was to keep putting out a product so the franchise dealers couldn’t sue over having been cut off with little or no notice (see ’57 and ’58 Packard, although under slightly different circumstances and intent). Those last two model years, with their constant dropping sales, were enough notice that any businessman with half a brain could understand. And unless they were completely stupid, all those franchise holders immediately diversified into some other (import) brand or got ready to become a used car lot with service bays.
That truck would be pretty sweet with a Cummins 4BT dropped in and an 88+ Chevy 1500 Stepside bed.
Chime in time – Lark ’59-’61 dash should bolt right into the cowl – no problemo (at least none I know of). My only qualifier here is that my buddy’s Dad in Junior High (Scoutmaster) had a ’49 Studebaker truck. Drove to Sierra Camp in that. B-r-r-r-r! Made it up with no chains (but had chains and sanbags/large pieces of wood for ballast if required/needed). I think it would’ve had the (Commander) six. This was back around ’71 or ’72.
If I had it today . . . . purist in me says find a 259 or 289 Stude V-8 or Chevy/Jimmy straight six or pull a Vortec V-6 out of wrecked GM truck from the last 20 years. No SBC LT/LS. I’m a stocker!
Did the Stude trucks use a New Process, Saginaw or B-W manual in the day?
The 1959-60 Lark dash should fit in the Champ. So should the 1956-58 if you prefer the “cyclops eye” spinning speedometer. However, the 1961 Lark received a deceptively different windshield and cowl shape that were not carried over to the Champs.
Up through 1958 the Commander always had eight cylinders and the Champion six. The Lark inherited both engines, although the six had a shorter stroke.
The Champ deserves an award for the most hashed together assortment of body parts of any post-war American vehicle. (Though the Jeep Gladiator could plausibly earn an honorable mention.)
In theory, Studebaker did have the money to come up with a better pickup. In 1959-60 the company was profitable to the point where it invested in a brand-new compact for 1962 that incoming CEO Sherwood Egbert unplugged at the eleventh hour. Light trucks just weren’t a priority.
In retrospect it might have made more sense for Studebaker to base the Champ on the more civilized wagon chassis. The basic Studebaker body may have been hopelessly obsolete for a passenger car but could have had considerable staying power as a compact pickup. Recall that the Big Three avoided entering that market until the mid-80s.
Not sure I understand any of this. New compact killed at the eleventh hour? Egbert was an outsider hired, according to several observers, to do an ordered execution and burial of the automotive division. When he discovered an enthusiasm for cars (e.g., Avanti) the Board tolerated it for a short time, and then, as he was off on medical leave, sacked him.
The Board had plans to end any automotive presence since the Lark’s debut, where the profits were plowed into diversification, not new models.
Second, by the time the Champ debuted, the old Studebaker models (except the Hawk) were gone, gone, gone. There was no Standard Studebaker to make a pickup from – resurrecting it would have cost as much as a new pickup cab.
Third…why do you call the Gladiator “hashed together”? Allowing for how it was made out of the Wagoneer trucklet…it was a pretty good package; appropriate size for a full-size American pickup; body-on-frame and separate bed. The cab was practical enough that it was used in Kaiser’s M715 military trucks.
Yo, Just, check out this Hemmings article: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2007/05/20/sia-flashback-more-stude-studies/
The Champ was a sawed-off Lark. A more substantial redesign (e.g., make the doors line up with the bed) could have resulted in a very-nice looking compact truck that could stayed current for more than a decade.
From a styling standpoint the Gladiator looks hashed together to me. For example, the front end of the roof has a weird lip to give it more headroom than the Wagoneer. The side creases don’t align between the front (they taper) and the bed (they are horizontal). I suspect that the ungainly wheel well cladding was necessitated by Jeep’s desire to give the bed greater width between the rear wheels than what the Wagoneer offered.
That Stude’s a sweet roller and my futurist hat is on. Trucks are for hauling and hauling means torque. Big gobs of torque. Diesel-electric locomotive type torque.
EV Album has lots of trucks, here’s a particularly good example:
This community college class electrified a Chevy S-10 with the 11 inch Netgain DC motor and a fat 1200 amp, 144 volt controller. 300 lb-ft of torque at 1000 amps.
This truck reminds me of a late-’50s Ford 4×4 that’s been parked in front of a local junkyard for some time. I was curious because if original, it would have been the last to use a Marmon-Harrington 4×4 setup. M-H was the hired gun of the 4×4 world, building kits for other manufacturers’ vehicles, as well as building private-venture armored vehicles for sale to foreign countries, so there’s some historical significance there. So I stopped one Sunday afternoon for a look-see.
Not this truck. The cab was Ford, but the bed was Chevrolet, and the chassis and drivetrain were indeterminate (I couldn’t open the hood), but I thought that it was ’70s or later. From the way the holes in the floor had been chopped open to pass the shifter and 4×4 selector, and the connections for the pedals had been rigged, I knew the cab and chassis had been involved in a shotgun (or maybe welding torch) marriage.
No wonder the truck had been sitting there. A dog’s breakfast is fine–for the first dog. The second dog may find it unappetizing.
Although the poor little Champ ended Studebaker’s truck career with a whimper, one should remember that they once had quite a bang with an excellent line of trucks. Their WW2 2-1/2-ton trucks were every bit as good as the GMCs that we normally think of as Deuce-and-a-halfs. I believe that mainly for logistical purposes GMCs were kept for US Army service, while Studebakers went to Lend-Lease clients, famously the Soviet Union.
The Studebakers that survived the war had a long career in the Soviet military. In Khrushchev’s memoirs, he commented that at the big Moscow May Day parades during his regime, the artillery pieces and rocket batteries were still being towed by Lend-Lease American trucks. This was at least ten years after the war was over. IIRC he asked why Soviet truck factories couldn’t build trucks as reliable, which was probably another reason why the other Soviets ganged up on him and tossed him out of his job.
My uncle bought 2 Studebaker 6×6 for logging work ,used em thru till the 80s when he sold the mill the spares one was nearly untouched and the worker still went Good tough trucks
The fate that befell the American Independents in the 1950s and 1960s always reminded me of the Soviet / Russian (and, largely, the Eastern block altogether) car building industry since the late 1970s: no money to develop brand new cars and old cars which are being sluggishly “modernized” to look more up-to-date, but thus only slowly mutating into more and more weird looking hodge-podge, still remaining artifacts of an era long gone. Its a sad story with a predictable end, but it often leads to some curious (even if sometimes monstrous) results, at least styling-wise. And all that said… god bless retrofit interchangeability !
While sensing some kind of weirdness around it, I would’ve never guessed that the Lark was essentially a ’53 Stude body. This particular case is much simpler, however: the rear fenders straight from the 1940s give away the car’s origins all too easily.
Interesting point Stanisiav. When the Leyland group dumped their old models, Hyundai bought the Hillman Avenger dies and the right to re-manufactured it in Korea. It didn’t look any better than the Avenger but being South Korea’s first locally produced car, it was a step in the right direction. And look what has happened thirty years later.
My father worked at the Hyundai Shipyard in Pusan in the eighties and was given one of these as a company car. It was uncanny how the korean’s even copied BL’s build quality. It was a rattly, badly built POS!
Hillman Avenger on the left. Hyundai Pony on the right.
Hillman was part of BL?
This Champ is screaming to be made into a custom rod. If I did live clean on the opposite corner of the country I’d be temped to do just that.
took the words outta my mouth! Id leave the patchwork weathered paint alone, chop that bed down till it was RIDICULOUSLY stubby, slam it down low, fit it with some swap meet mag wheels and then decide on what to power it. The el cheapo way would be a GM smallblock, but a Cummins 4bt would work. Maybe an old 2 stroke Detroit diesel….since they sound like death is coming when you wind em out and drive em hard!
I’d go with either a 440 Chrysler or a 340. Depending on which I could get my hands on first.
That would most likely be the 440 because I’m fixing to pull one out of a 72 Imperial that I’m putting a 572 Hemi in.
I think something completely different. Perhaps a Mercedes 6 with the 4bbl Solex, or maybe even one or the V8s. Keep it all in the family, so to speak.
The combination of old and new parts always makes me think of the Powell Sport Wagon
Still… it has a certain charm. I think the custom rod idea is great.
I think the Whatoff Trailer Toter conversions are such a unique piece of Studebaker truck history that they might merit at least a footnote in any piece on Sturdybakers.
Not counting the champ, stude trucks remind me of grain trucks from my boyhood in Kansas. Don’t know what it took to kill them but they were big old flatbeds with 2 1/2 ton chassis. A lot of the same farms had the pickup with wooden slatted sides like shown above.
Go away for 20 years and nothing stays the same. Well except that the farmers were still driving many of the same trucks when I came back.
In high school, one of my shop teachers drove an early 50’s Studebaker pickup that I always thought looked pretty cool. In the back lot of the shop he had a couple of parts trucks left over that just sat there for a long time. Of course, like most car addicts, I would imagine taking one of the many motors we had in auto class and putting it in one of those old abandoned trucks and bringing it back to life. Didn’t matter to me if the powertrain could be from another manufacturer.
Admittedly, the Studebaker pickup from the decade of the 50’s looks way more classic than the early 60’s generation, but the featured truck would still be awesome as a daily driver with an updated motor, tranny, and an interior from another Stude. The patched together look gives it a lot of character!
Damn that sure brings back a lot of memories – I remember these growing up in Israel, we had an assembly plant (in fact, I believe the last Studebakers ever were assembled in Israel from Canadian kits sent before the liquidation). There’s more info here, but you’ll have to use Google translator or similar if you skipped your Hebrew lessons at school:)
Yes the Champ was a desperate attempt at survival, that’s my white style side at the top.
Now let’s look at the Holden Commodore from 1979, a re hashed Opel with the front end stretched to fit the cast iron six cylinder and beefed up front end to accommodate the ten year old cast iron v8. It was called Australia’s own and remained basically unchanged for five years.
I love my Champ for what it is, a tough gutsy reliable truck with its indestructible v8
These trucks are very special to alot of us, cobbled or not!
Your truck compared to the pieced example above looks more custom than cobbled together. Really nice looking truck when painted one color and the wheels are a nice touch. If you want to be different than anybody else, you can’t go wrong with this truck. It may of been designed out of desperation, but today a nice example such as this I would be proud to drive. Great article, the whole story of Studebaker is a real roller coaster.
Now Hear This! Now Hear This!
The Colonel wants an old truck so bad.
Must have vent windows and not be a Ford.
That is all.
You are in my driveway again. Out front is a 62 Champ shortbed. Studebaker was really trying hard in the engineering department as these are fairly well thought out trucks. For example, how many brand X 3/4 ton trucks from this era had a 5 speed gearbox available? Perhaps a 3 and over is more to your liking. The V8 with overdrive is a nice combo. How about a sliding rear window? And it is a large rear window to boot. For having such limited resources, Studebaker put together a pretty decent offering. To top it off I have found that Stude severely underrated the weight capacity of their trucks. Loads that would have flattened a half ton brand X would just begin to put the short set or overload springs into play.
Growing up in the 50s, it seemed that every Studebaker you saw on the road was trailing a stinky blue cloud of oil smoke.
They did have a reputation for burning oil.
So did about every other car on the road with worn out engines. Honda seems to have taken that catagory over. Just yesterday as true for the last forty years I got behind a smoking Honda. The first one was my wife’s car she had before we were married. Got rid of the car, but kept my wife.
Seems to me most of the time engine problems are a result of a lack of maintenance. Not to say some parts don’t succumb to wear, valve seals being a big culprit, but burning oil is normally the fault of the owner.
Thanks for posting this article, way back about 1987 or so I was visiting Hannibal, Mo., and saw a Champ pickup; it was in perfect condition. I had never seen one before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. Now I wish I had taken a picture of it.
Here’s the thing to do … follow this guy’s lead, stick in an electric motor,
pump the rest of the engine bay the areas under the bed with lithium ion
and you’ve got yourself an all electric vehicle for the 21st Century!!!!
Best of all, it’s still a Studebaker chAMP!
I’ve always liked these trucks (although I didn’t know until relatively recently that the bed was sourced from Dodge!)…
I rather like this one with the newer cab/older style bed!
For anyone hoping to see a nice Champ at the Studebaker museum, don’t hold your breath. The curators seem to think the public is more interested in Avanti prototypes (there are three shells). A shame because they’ve almost entirely glossed over the Lark era and its variants. I’d love to see not only a nice Champ, but a Wagonaire would be cool, too.
For those getting the urge to give this one a new life, here’s a solid contender (with non-running engine) in KS for under $2K: http://www.ebay.com/itm/60-61-62-63-64-Studebaker-Champ-1-2-ton-pickup-street-rat-rod-/311555967176?hash=item488a2ec8c8:g:5BwAAOSwuAVW0fAc&vxp=mtr
Every now and then I catch a glimpse of an early ’60s Studebaker, during early morning reruns of Mr. Ed on AntennaTV…originally brought to you by Studebaker. Usually it’s a Lark or a Wagonaire, but occasionally a Champ is featured.
Why was the Champ never updated with the ’63 Lark flatter windshield and larger side window? Those new parts would still mate with the rear wall of the cab I think and shouldn’t have cost anything to implement.
Why was the Champ never updated with the ’63 Lark flatter windshield and larger side window?
At that late stage, with their tiny volume (8,000 trucks sold in 62), and as the truck line had been neglected for years, anything that cost more than $0, cost too much to do. iirc the trucks didn’t even get a one piece windshield until the 3R in 54 and, while the passenger cars had V8s starting in 51, they didn’t offer a V8 in the trucks until 55. Can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Studebaker had offered the Packard V8, with it’s stump pulling torque, in the trucks.
The only Champs that look right to my eyes are the ones sent to Argentina (from CKD kits?) that had some local content, including locally-sourced beds, which unlike their US counterparts were actually shaped to fit the rest of the truck. Better integrated front bumper too, and a unique grill. The “Studebaker” lettering on the tailgate was in cursive.
Studebaker executives would have done better to pay more attention to mundane stuff like sourcing better matching Champ pickup beds from Argentina instead of using stock Dodge beds.
Of course, they were likely way too busy working on the exotic and glamorous (and way more expensive) Avanti.
Has a faltering automotive brand ever been saved by a shoot-for-the-fences “halo car”? I can’t think of any that have, but several whose halo cars utterly failed to save their marques (Kaiser Darrin, Hudson Italia, Plymouth Prowler).
That’s a really good point. You have to wonder what business school teaches that the odds of a ‘Hail, Mary’ pass are better than a more calm, less attention getting, pragmatic approach with dwindling funds.
I mean, I’ve always thought the Sceptre concept would have been a much wiser way for Studebaker to go then the damn Avanti. Plus, if they’d have done the more conventional Sceptre instead, they might have had enough money leftover to better upgrade their other model lines (like a matching bed for the Champ and a sooner modernization of the Lark). These kinds of moves might still not have prevented the inevitable, but could have easily given Studebaker a few more years of life.
OTOH, maybe when trying to get more money, lenders are more impressed with flashy halo cars then boring upgrades. It’s the old “sell the sizzle, not the steak” mantra.
The formal nose, long hood, and raked cab greenhouse, combine to undermine the practical styling we expect from pickups. A genuine mishmash of styling elements. The second and third tier automakers, that very badly needed killer styling, so often delivered homely, conflicted, or dowdy designs.
I equally thought the long hood and sports car nose on the Dodge Rampage, hurt its practical, work truck styling credentials against the Ranger and S-10.
That E45’s windshield catches my eye: a flat slab of glass with no horizontal curvature, gently centre-bent where two framed panes obviously used to be.
I had not realized that the Champ was the Official Truck for the 1960 Indianapolis 500 when Oldsmobile was the pace car. A close look at the picture shows the red Champ at the far right.
Since we are in the 21st century an EV powertrain might be the answer to keep this old Stude in the land of the living, These just have to be rare in NZ and I saw one a few weeks ago in white very nicely restored probably a recent import but you never know.
I have driven/ridden in two of these Studebaker trucks. One six cylinder and one V8 engine.
They both added new meaning to the pejorative phrase “Drives Like A Truck”.
Since I’m catching up, is the “Space Side”Champ the only post 1945 US made pickup with a bed wider than the cab? I’m pretty sure it is since everyone else could afford tooling to make the bed match the cab contour.