1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner Hardtop - Motor Trend Centerfold car

Price: - Item location: Elgin, Illinois, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Studebaker
  • Model: Commander
  • Year: 1953
  • Mileage: 72000
  • Engine size: V8
  • Number of cylinders: 8
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Vehicle Title: Clean
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1953 Studebaker Commander

A timeless American classic, hidden away for decades and with an unusual provenance, this 1953 Starliner is a rare find indeed.

Anyone who follows these cars knows that finding a TOTALLY original example is no easy feat. These cars have long been favored by Hot Rod enthusiasts and Bonneville racers, often seeing engine swaps or extreme body modifications, making it difficult to locate one that has survived the ravages of time. Add to that the fact that this car is TOTALLY rust free, has one of the most desirable color combinations, is absolutely loaded with rare factory options and you really have truly special car. If that wasn't enough, this car has been featured in the famous Motor Trend magazine as a centerfold and resided in private collections for almost 50 years, including Richard Carpenters private museum (from the famous group - The Carpenters) according to a history search from the previous owner.

To start with, the car is one of the most RUST FREE Loewy coupes on the planet. It is one of, if the not themost rust free Studebaker I have ever owned, and I cannot overstate how rust free this car really is. I purchased this car 10 years ago from south central California, where it had spent the vast majority of its life. The build sheet shows it was even delivered there in 1953! Since then it has remained in a humidity controlled storage facility. I have never seen better torque boxes or front fenders than that of this car.I have included pictures of the torque boxes and undersidefor illustration. I have also asked multiple independent collectors to scrutinize the body panels and am repeatedly assured this car is totally void of rust and there is no visible indicator of any previousbody repair.

This rare and unique specimen is also one of the most desirable and low production color combinations of factory Velvet Black with a Red deluxe interiorand also LOADED with rare factory options. Amongst these rare and desirable options are the gorgeous spoked hub caps that most people associate with the 1955 SPEEDSTER complimented with true wide whitewall tires that take the car to a new level. The Deluxe interior came with a remote control telescoping antenna, rear speaker, folding rear console, upgraded door panels, and even a very rare chrome tissue vanity that is in beautiful shape. Another rare and very desirable option is a fully automatic transmission mated to its numbers matching original V8 engine. The build sheet even shows it was ordered and built withhigh compression heads, albeit still very conservative by todays standards. It even still retains its original chrome exhaust tip that is beautiful condition due to the California weather.

On top of the rare list of options is the fact this car comes with a unique and interesting provenance. It was actually featured in a 1986 Motor Trend issue as the full color CENTERFOLD, complete with a 6 page write up on the vehicle and the new owner will be supplied an actual copy along with an original production build sheet. Although the car is not quite as perfect as it was in its Motor Trend debut 34 years ago, its has remained incredibly well preserved. The previous owner was told this car was also owned by the world famousRichard Carpenter and resided in his museum. He went as far as doing a DMV history to substantiate this interesting ownership trail, although I only have his notations from his phone correspondence with the authorities. I always wanted to try to contact Richard, who is still alive, and question him about this and obtain more history on the car but never actually did it. Personally, I have no doubt this is true, as the man who sold me the car was an eccentric millionaire who had over 100 gorgeous cars at the time I purchased it.

The interior of the car is totally original, including the front seat. It has a couple small splits in the seat from old stitching that has let go, but is certainly repairable. The rear seat is beautiful as are the door panels. The red headliner have no tears, rips or mouse holes and really makes the interior pop. The car still has its original carpet that is approaching 70 years old, and while its a neat artifact, I would definitely ad a new and fresh carpet to accentuate the time capsule interior. Lower kick panels are made of factory cardboard and have seen better days, although they are still intact and functional.

The trunk is again TOTALLY rust free and still sports the original 1953 CLOTH hounds tooth trunk liner, albeit stained, and I cant remember the last time I saw one as only vinyl reproductions have been available for decades. The original jack and mounting hardware are in tact and the spare tire looks to be original, although I would surmise it was replaced 40 or 50 years ago. The trunk lid still has the factory car board insulators and you can clearly see the factory over spray as I don't think this trunk has ever been touched. Again, there are no holes or issues as the trunk floor is simply beautiful.

The engine runs like a sewing machine, even though the wires are cracked and brittle and look to be original. The car has about 72,000 original miles on it over the last 70 years, and it is evident everywhere on the car. It is a literal time capsule and still sports the 6 volt system that fires it right up. The only additions I have made are an electric fuel pump. I also put in a brand new battery and rebuilt the carburetor last in 2019.

The RUST FREE body is incredibly straight and shows no signs of previous damage or repair. The grill surrounds and inserts are remarkable, showing slight patina as expected. The bumpers are original and never rechromed, straight and dent free, with slight patina. All the body seems are on point and uniform and the stainless is in great shape too. The emblems are in fantastic shape and none of them are missing or cracked......again no reproduction stuff here. The tires look to be NOS and authentic Firestone whitewalls as I have a receipt from 1991 included. They are highly sought after and would be fine for shows, but I would never trust them at highway speeds. The paint still looks good but has its share of stone chips and a few scratches and is far from a show car paint job.

The underside is absolutely solid and beautiful, with perfect torque boxes and a gas tank void of rust or dents and I have included a few pics to illustrate this.

As it stands, the car can be left alone and enjoyed with minimal attention, or become the recipient of a high dollar paint job and smaller detail items. I do know, without a doubt, that a mild cosmetic restoration would make this one of the most beautiful, desirable and rare Loewy coupes in the world. Either way the mechanicals are sound and the cars body and frame integrity are second to none. I will let this decision rest with the lucky new owner........

On Oct-16-20 at 12:35:00 PDT, seller added the following information:

I have been receiving questions asking whether or not this car has original paint. To be totally honest, when I bought the car ten years ago, I was told most of it was original with a re spray on the top sections due to its early life spent in the sunny conditions of southern California, but I have my doubts. I have found no indications to the contrary, but I'm no paint expert and it could have been repainted many, many years ago. Even if it was, I am fairly sure it was no more than once. Even though the pictures are untouched and right out of my camera, I want to be clear that while the paint still looks pretty nice it isfar from perfect as it has its share of stone chips, a few small scratches and some light crows feet in a few small places as lacquer shrinks over decades and decades. I will say I can find no evidence of body filler and I assure everyone that the car is totally rust free, with some of the most beautiful front fenders I have ever seen. The underside is beautiful, as is the trunk, floors, frame rails, etc. The frame rails are chalk board smooth and even the gravel pan underneath is straight and rust fee. I haven't found so much a pin hole through my extensive review of every corner of the car. I can say with confidence youwill be hard pressed tofind a more rust free example anywhere.

While many people consider a survivor to have original paint, others understand that a 70 year old car might be touched up or painted once, as long as the majority of the car is original. Definitions vary on this from person to person. Maybe a better term would be semi survivor.....who knows. All I know for certain is the car is a legitimate time capsule in every way. Even the front seat, with its optional split bench and drivers padding, is the original cover from 1953......no recovering or repair. All in know for sure is this car is a legitimate time capsule, tucked away in personal collections for almost 50 years and is an incredibly rare find in this condition.These cars have long been favorites of Customizers, Hot Rodders and Bonneville racers, and most of them have been modified to some degree. The cars that are still original are normally rusted or in various states of decay, and the nice ones are often some undesirable color like yellow with a green top, tan or apple green. Its rare to find one in Red, white, or black for some reason.

I want to make sure I am as honest as possible with people, pointing out the negatives while also pointing out the positives. In my opinion, the negatives are few and the positives are many......cars like this are simply few and far between, especially for a car that was built in 1953 and has lived on this planet for 67 years. I have many Studebakers in my collection, mostly Supercharged hawks, larks and Avantis, with 2 Loewy coupes, so I think I've learned to spot something special when I see it. I welcome any and all questions and I will do my best to accurately answer them, as it is important that the new owner enjoys this car as much as I have. The car is also available for local purchase, as are many of my cars as I thin the herd, so I reserve the right to sell at my discretion.

If you are serious about purchasing this rare piece, and have the funds available to do so, feel free to reach out with your questions and I will be happy to discuss all I know about the car. My phone is 630 235 7788. This car will certainly be missed.

Thank you all for looking.......