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Studebaker Champion

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Champion
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Studebaker Champion

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Merchandise
A car produced by Studebaker in five generations from 1939-1958.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Studebaker Champion page on 8 April 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Studebaker Champion is a mid-size car (full-size car in its first 3 generations) which was produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana from the beginning of the 1939 model year until 1958.

Background

The success of the Champion in 1939 was imperative to Studebaker's survival following weak sales during the 1938 model year. Unlike most other cars, the Champion was designed from a "clean sheet", and had no restrictions caused by necessarily utilizing older parts or requiring the subsequent use of its components in heavier vehicles. Market research guided the selection of features, but a key principle adhered to was the engineering watchword "weight is the enemy." For its size, it was one of the lightest cars of its era. Its compact straight-6 engine outlasted the model itself and was produced to the end of the 1964 model year, with a change to an OHV design in 1961.

The Champion was one of Studebaker's best-selling models because of its low price (US$660 for the 2-door business coupe in 1939), durable engine, and styling. The car's ponton styling was authored by industrial designer Raymond Loewy who had been under contract with Studebaker for the design of their automobiles. Champions won Mobilgas economy runs by posting the highest gas mileage tests. During World War II, Champions were coveted for their high mileage at a time when gas was rationed in the United States. From 1943–1945, the Champion engine was used as the powerplant for the Studebaker M29 Weasel personnel and cargo carrier, which also used four sets of the Champion's leaf springs arranged transversely for its bogie suspension.

The Champion was phased out in 1958 in preparation for the introduction of the 1959 Studebaker Lark. Prior to this, Studebaker had been placed under receivership, and the company was attempting to return to a profitable position.

First generation

The Champion came out in 1939. Deluxe models came with arm rests and dual wipers. The 164.3 cu in (2.7 L) I6 engine produced 78 horsepower (58 kW; 79 PS). In 1940, Studebaker claimed 27.25 mpg-US (8.63 L/100 km; 32.73 mpg-imp). In 1941, the bodies were given a more streamlined look.

Second generation

In 1946, Studebaker built a limited number of cars based on their 1942 body shell in preparation for its new body and design roll out in 1947. All Studebakers built in 1946 were designated Skyway Champion models. Only the Champion series was produced, it being the most popular before the war.

Third generation

In 1947, Studebaker completely redesigned the Champion and the Commander, making them the first new cars after World War II. The styling included new rear window, flat front fenders, as well as convenience features like back light illumination for gauges and automatic courtesy lights. The Champion made up 65.08% of the total sales for the automaker in 1947.

The 169.9 cu in (2.8 L) I6 engine produced 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) in 1947. In 1950, output was increased to 85 hp (63 kW; 86 PS). Also, new styling (new grill, sheet metal, and rear end) was introduced, as well as an automatic transmission.

One of the new styling features on the cars was the wraparound, "greenhouse" rear window that was on 2-door cars from 1947–1951, at first just an option, in 1950 it was given its own trim line, the Starlight coupe. The "spinner" grill was introduced in 1950, similar to that of a Ford Deluxe, but was dropped again for the 1952 model year.

Fourth generation

In 1953, Studebaker was redesigned by Robert Bourke, from Raymond Loewy's design studio. The 2-door coupe with a central pillar was called the "Starlight." while the more expensive hardtop coupe was called the "Starliner." The front end of the new Studebaker was lower than contemporaries. No convertible was offered in 1953. In 1954, a new 2-door station wagon called the "Conestoga" was added to the Champion line. Power of the L-head inline-six remained unchanged at 85 hp (63 kW), although in 1955 this was replaced by a larger version with 101 hp (75 kW). Also for 1955 the Starlight/Starliner labels were dropped and a wraparound windshield was introduced. The 1956 Champion sedans received very different bodywork, with pronounced "eyebrows" over the headlights and large tailfins. The coupes received the new Hawk style bodywork with a centrally placed square grille reminiscent of a period Mercedes-Benz.

Fifth generation

In 1957, the Champion Scotsman, a stripped down Champion, was introduced by Studebaker in an attempt to compete with the “Big Three” (i.e. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) and Nash in the low-price field. Shortly after its introduction, the model was renamed Studebaker Scotsman.

Two engines were available, a 185 cu in (3.0 L) 101 hp (75 kW; 102 PS) "Sweepstakes" L-head I6, or a 289 cu in (4.7 L) 210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) "Sweepstakes" OHV V8.


Photographs

Studebaker 1941 Champion Sedan Delivery 1941 Sedan Delivery
Photo ©2016 Heidi Walczak
View photo of 1941 Champion Sedan Delivery at the Studebaker National Museum - 1.0MB
Studebaker 1941 Champion Sedan Delivery 1941 Sedan Delivery
Photo ©2016 Heidi Walczak
View photo of 1941 Champion Sedan Delivery at the Studebaker National Museum - 1.8MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 4.6MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 4.1MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 4.0MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 3.3MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 4.1MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 3.1MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 3.5MB
1942 Studebaker Champion 1942
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1942 Studebaker Champion - 4.7MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 3.7MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 3.5MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 3.2MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 2.8MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 2.9MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 3.6MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 3.5MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 2.8MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 2.7MB
1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible 1948
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 1948 Studebaker Champion Convertible - 1.6MB
Studebaker 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop 1953 Starliner Hardtop
Photo ©2016 Heidi Walczak
View photo of 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop at the Studebaker National Museum - 1.2MB
Studebaker 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop 1953 Starliner Hardtop
Photo ©2016 Heidi Walczak
View photo of 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop at the Studebaker National Museum - 1.1MB
Studebaker 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop 1953 Starliner Hardtop
Photo ©2016 Heidi Walczak
View photo of 1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop at the Studebaker National Museum - 1.9MB


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Die Cast - Highway 611951 Studebaker Champion1:18 scale, dark red
Die Cast - Highway 611951 Studebaker Champion1:18 scale, grey


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