The Depression of the 1930s was difficult for all automotive manufacturers but especially for Studebaker. Sales in 1938 were especially slow, and the company lost $1.76 million (about $30 million in today’s dollars). They needed a winner fast, and they got one with Raymond Loewy’s newly designed 1939 Studebaker.
There were three sizes: the smallest was the Champion, the midsize was the Commander and the luxury version was the President. Naturally, the Champion would be the volume model. Loewy started with a clean sheet of paper, no carryover from previous years. The key principle in his design was expressed with the slogan “weight is the enemy.” They were stylish inside and out, economical to operate, and had a starting price of $660 (about $11,385 in today’s dollars). Economy became very important, as during World War II there was gas rationing with most car owners receiving an “A” window sticker which allowed only 4 gallons of gas a week.
The 1940 and 1941 models were updated versions of the original 1939, while the 1942 model had more visual changes. It was wider and generally considered a better-looking car. It had a 90-horsepower, straight flathead six-cylinder engine teamed up with Warner Gear synchromesh three-speed manual transmission with overdrive being an option. An unusual feature of the Studebaker with overdrive is that the driver can shift from first gear to second and third gears without depressing the clutch. With overdrive the car has free-wheeling, which is not always a good thing, as it means it coasts down hills with no engine braking.
Car model years usually start in October of the prior year, so 1942 was a very short model year as the United States entered World War II in December 1941. No new civilian cars were built by any American manufacturer after Jan. 31, 1942. …read more
Source:: The Mercury News