Those Jet Cars ...

By Don Jones

Following World War II, Studebaker moved fast to capture a share of the post-war automotive market. The 1946-47 models brought forth a new dynamic styling to the automobile world but by the time the 1949 Studebaker had rolled out, many thought Studebaker needed another new model to impress enthusiastic auto fans.

1950 Studebaker Commander Starlight

1950 Studebaker Commander Starlight Ccoupe Photo

The 1950 and 1951 Studebaker models looked futuristic with the addition of the new chrome bullet nose, sometimes referred to as the"spinner". Actually, the 1951 models had a slightly revised design for its center bullet nose. It is thought the Tucker car and perhaps the 1949 Ford inspired the bullet nose. The three-point jet look was controversial as many believed it would result in Chevrolet and Ford playing catch up in the world of car design but neither of those brands actually followed the Studebaker lead.

1950 Studebaker Commander

1950 Studebaker Commander Picture

In both 1950 and 1951 Studebaker recorded high sales of its cars and trucks but, in fact, its profit dropped by 50%. The company made a hugh error by continuing to issue substantive increases to the share holders rather than hold back money for future research and development. This had happened before in Studebaker's history to the point it was a typical trait for that firm and could be considered one of the factors that brought the company down.

1950 Studebaker Commander

1950 Studebaker Champion Photo

1950 Studebaker Commander

1950 Studebaker Champion Picture

The 1950 Studebakers came in three models: the 113 inch wheel base Champion, the 120 inch Commander, and the stretched 124 inch Land Cruiser. In the following year, the Champion and the Commander both used a standard 115 inch base and the Land Cruiser, only available as a four door, was cut back to 119 inches.

1950 Studebaker Champion Convertible

1950 Studebaker Champion Car Photo

Studebaker had labor problems around this period. The UAW local decided to strike over the layoff of 43 workers. Also, Harold Vance had finally discovered, after investigating, that the Studebaker employees had a better deal already when compared to workers in other auto building plants. The UAW held the strength card and Vance agreed reluctantly to UAW demands after a short two-day strike.

1950 Studebaker Champion Custom 2 Door Sedan

1950 Studebaker Champion Car Photo

Midway through its 1950 car season, Studebaker introduced a new automatic transmission. This new transmission was considered superior to many other transmissions of this time. It was air-cooled and included a feature known as the "hill-holder" which prevented the car from rolling down hill on inclines. The wrap around rear window in some models drew jokes as to which direction the car was going but, from inside, it provided a wide rear panoramic view.

1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe

1950 Studebaker Commander Coupe

The grill was adjusted to fit sort of flush with the adjacent front metal. The selling price of a Studebaker started around $1561 and could go up to $2381. The Land Cruiser and the Commander shared the same 115 inch wheel base in 1951.

1951 Studebaker Champion

1951 Studebaker Champion Bullet Nose Photo

Studebaker introduced a new V8 engine for its 1951 models. This was in advance of other independent auto builders such as Packard and Nash. The Studebaker V8 was a well-designed engine capable of 120 HP. Car builders were going through a period where the US was involved in the Korean War and the government was sort of rationing materials and issuing price controls.

1951 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe

1951 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe Photo

1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight

1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight Car Photo

1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight

1951 Studebaker Commando Car Picture