Designer Bob Bourke of Raymond Loewy’s studio penned a sleek new coupe in 1953, and Studebaker quickly asked that the new look be adapted to all 1953 Champion body styles. The family coupes and sedans rode on a shorter wheelbase than what the initial design was sketched for, though the Regal hardtop coupe was true to Bourke’s design, and particularly handsome. Studebaker billed the Champion’s look as “European,” and it was true that the car looked like nothing else on American highways. Especially in the Regal, the Champion was low and striking.
All Studebaker Champions for 1953 utilized a small 169.6-cid L-head six-cylinder engine that could be backed by the most advanced automatic transmission on the market. This automatic had three speeds forward and a lock-up torque converter. The 1954 Champions saw no real changes except for a new grille and the addition of a two-door station wagon. The 1955 Champion received a large chrome grille.
In 1956, the super-low styling of the Champion was dropped, and a taller, more typical hood and decklid were adopted for the family cars, along with wrap-around windshields which debuted half way through 1955. The 1957 and 1958 cars were carried over, with no real substantive changes except for the addition of a dual headlamps and a very attractive two-door hardtop with a taller body for 1958.
This generation of Studebaker Commander is very popular among collectors. The low-slung “Lowey” coupes are particularly desirable, as are the 259-cid and 289-cid motors. Parts availability is fairly good and club support is terrific, making ownership quite enjoyable.