Monday, May 25, 2009

1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express

The 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express competed handily with trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. Unlike Studebaker's 1937-1939 Coupe-Express models, which were car-pickup hybrids, the 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express (no hyphen) descended from a line of true trucks.

Studebaker in 1941 had rocketed back into the truck business it had temporarily abandoned. It fielded the M5 family of trucks, a broad line of 1/2- to 1 1/2-ton models. Spanning 113- to 195-inch wheelbases, these offerings had 90 percent of the truck market covered.

Studebaker returned to true-truck production in 1941 with a clever design that survived after the war in the form of the 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express pictured here.

The truck rebirth was built on profits from the Studebaker Champion car, which had rescued the company beginning in 1939.

The half-ton M-5 pickup was called the Coupe Express. Far different from the 1937-1939 car-based Coupe-Express models, it was a genuine truck. But in a clever bit of design engineering, the Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express shared many components with Studebaker's passenger cars, thus greatly reducing tooling costs.

Underhood was the Champion's 170-cid L-head six, with 80 bhp. The dashboard was Champion, as were some body panels, headlamp rims, and the steering wheel. Hubcaps were borrowed from the Commander.

Base Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express pickups were relatively spartan, like most trucks of the day. But for around $25, the DeLuxe Equipment Group added brightwork on the grille and hood, a chrome driver's mirror, hood ornament, body-color (instead of black) fenders, and an interior light.

Options also included bumper guards, grille guard, chrome rear bumper, spotlight, foglamps, radio -- even whitewall tires.

Civilian truck production halted for the war, but by 1947 was going full tilt; 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express output passed 23,000 for the year and total M-series production topped 52,000.

The 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express listed for $1,082. Changes over the prewar models were minor, but a spare tire was now included and the options list expanded modestly. A hood ornament was standard from mid-1947; previously, it had cost $4.75 extra.

The Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express was virtually unchanged in 1948 because it was scheduled to be discontinued in favor of a new postwar design in March of that year.

Collectible Pluses of the 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe-Express

The most beautiful dashboard on any classic truck
Good exterior styling
A host of supporters
Strong collector club support
Lots of available parts

Collectible Minuses of the 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe-Express

Dated styling compared to the successor 2R trucks
Low value appreciation
No performance

A chrome rear bumper and whitewall tires were among the options for the strong-selling 1947 Studebaker M-5 Coupe Express pickup truck.