Monday, March 30, 2009
Studebaker's 'World's Champion' 1928 GB Regal Commander Six, pictured on a 4000 km journey from Sydney to Perth, Australia, in 1975.
The Studebaker Commander is the model-name of a long succession of automobiles produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana (USA) and Studebaker of Canada Ltd of Walkerville and, later, Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). Studebaker began using the Commander name in 1927 and continued to use it until 1964, with the exception of 1936 and 1959-63. The model-name was applied to various positions in the company's product line-up from year to year.
Until the appearance of the 8-cylinder President in January 1928, all Studebaker cars of the 1920s were sixes. There were three basic models—the Light, the Special and the Big Six, developing 40 bhp (30 kW; 41 PS), 50 bhp (37 kW; 51 PS), and 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) respectively at 2000 rpm. The first Commander, in 1927, was a continuation of the mid-range Special Six, with a 226 cubic inch (3.7-litre) engine. Their inbuilt durability and toughness gained them great renown under worldwide conditions. The 1928 GB Commander was a descendant of the Big Six, being powered with the proven 354 cu in (5.8 L) engine, modified to deliver 75 bhp (56 kW; 76 PS) at 2400 rpm. In October 1928, three Commander sixes lined up at the Atlantic City speedway to challenge the 15,000-mile (24,000 km) speed record (64.25 mph) held by the much higher-priced Auburn straight-eight Speedster.
They not only accomplished that but then went on to establish new records up to 25,000 miles (40,000 km). The two sports roadsters averaged better than 65 mph (105 km/h) and the sedan, which had flipped on the icy boards during one of the night runs and had been hurriedly repaired, averaged almost 62 mph.
After this, the three cars were closely scrutinised, part by part, and it was established that they were strictly stock automobiles, identical in every respect to those available at any Studebaker showroom.
These sixes were the last descendants of rugged cars designed for poor roads in the early 20th century--loaded with torque and strong in construction. They were less well suited to the higher cruising speeds made possible by better roads in later years.
1935 Commander roadster.
In 1935, the Commander was dropped from Studebaker’s product line, only to be reinstated in 1937 when the name was applied to Studebaker’s least expensive range formerly known as the Studebaker Dictator. Studebaker introduced the Champion in 1939, and the Commander line was again repositioned, now as the midrange vehicle.
Immediately following World War II, Studebaker dropped its President models, and the Commander again was elevated in the lineup. Studebaker also again rolled out an extended wheelbase model of the Commander, the Land Cruiser.
1950 Studebaker Champion
The 1950 Champion differed from the Commander, which had a distinctive bumper, carried over from 1949, longer front fenders and large headlight bezels, as well as a distinctive jet-style hood ornament.
In 1955, Studebaker reintroduced the President name for its premium models and 'Commander' was applied to the mid-range products. The Commander line was extended with the introduction of a lower-priced Custom sub-series, being basically a Champion with a V8 engine. Studebaker placed the name on hiatus at the end of the 1958 model year.
In 1963, Studebaker again resurrected the Commander name for the 1964 model year, applying it to the next-to-lowest-priced Lark model, the Challenger being below. 1964Studebaker Commanders are easily identified by their single headlight arrangement. The 1965 Commander shared the dual-headlight system of the Daytona and Cruiser.
Posted by Palmer at 7:24 AM