Innovative merger: 1960 Studebaker Champ pickup wears a Lark front end

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Studebaker
Studebaker made a cool little pickup using the best of what they had

Cash-strapped Studebaker was faced with a dilemma when it came time to upgrade its pickup truck, which had not changed in more than a decade while the Detroit competitors had modernized theirs several times.

The engineers and designers for the South Bend, Indiana, automaker hit upon an innovative solution using existing components.  For the 1960 redo, Studebaker took the previous model’s chassis and full-fendered pickup bed and created a new cab by slicing a 4-door Lark compact car behind the front doors and mounting the resulting front end onto the frame.

Viola!  A new truck.

Studebaker

The following year, the pickup received a redesigned cargo bed that was better integrated with the Lark front, although the original 1960 model is now recognized as a collector car with considerable charm.  Although to some people, the merged design has something of a Frankenstein effect.

Production of the truck ended in 1964 as the Studebaker company headed for oblivion.

The Pick of the Day is a 1960 Studebaker Champ pickup in restored condition, according to the Gladstone, Oregon, dealer advertising the truck on ClassicCars.com.

Studebaker

“Rarely do you come across a unique truck with its own style,” the seller says in the ad. “This beauty was restored several years ago and still looks awesome.”

A major plus for this Champ is that it’s powered by the original V8 engine – most likely a 289 cid – and 3-speed manual transmission, instead of the troublesome inline-6 that was newly developed for that model year and had durability issues.  The V8 should make the truck more drivable in modern traffic and on the open highway.

RELATED:  Pick of the Day: Already restored 1932 Dodge DK Eight

From the photos with the ad, the Studebaker looks to be in very good condition, and the restoration was done with an eye on authenticity.  The mileage is not mentioned in the ad, although a close-up of the simple gauges shows what looks to be just over 60,000 miles.  The glass is original and the chrome and stainless are in good shape, the seller notes.

Studebaker

“This is a very nice Studebaker truck that can be enjoyed for many years to come,” the seller adds.

The asking price for this unusual pickup with its interesting story is $19,500.

One other thing: The 1960 Champ pickup pioneered a feature that would become common on all pickup trucks in later years – a sliding rear window.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Golfen,

    The 1960 Studebaker truck that you featured recently is a very nice looking truck. Better looking than some of the monstrosities we see today.
    A quick look at the pictures shows three pedals near the floor in the driver’s compartment. So this truck must have a good old manual transmission (three on the tree).
    Certainly nothing wrong with that!

  2. It’s sure a lot prettier then my 1964 long bed with the dodge bed that looks too wide. I have questions about mine if any knowledgeable wrenchers could contact me

  3. 1961 was the first year for the overhead valve straight six. 1960 came with the "Flathead" six. Which the "Overhead" six was based on. Same block. The "Flathead" six was rock solid dependable, if not a powerhouse. A good all-around economical choice. The head design on the O.V. engine is where it’s problems came from. People who neglected routine maintenance where most likely to be the ones who saw problems. aka. Cracked head.

  4. I have a 1961 long bed, slab side.(Dodge sourced) 259 V-8 "4 barrel Power Pack." 5 sp. "Horseshoe" pattern on the floor. Factory correct. Have build sheet from "Studebaker" museum.

  5. All that said. That is " One Fine little Truck!" Original pattern upholstery, which seems to be the only thing this ones lacking. Is hard as hell to come by. But otherwise this "little jewel" seems spot on.

    • To find out, read "A brief History of Studebaker Trucks. An analysis of production records". Written by Skip Lackie. Happy hunting!

      • According to the Vin. number this truck came from the factory with the "Commander" Flathead six. Can you say, engine swap?

  6. These were a great and Sooo many options were available. Shall I name a few? Ok… Power front disc breaks, power steering, automatic Borg Warner W-2 powershift transmission, R-1,R-2,R-3, and the R-4 engines and air conditioning was available on the R-1 and R-4 engines. Heavy duty suspension or cushion ride available as the adjustable stabilization of Koni built suspension package. Strato view mirrors, all factory tint windows and sliding back glass window with inner built lock, Vario speed wipers, full instrumentation, A-M – FM radio white or black knob, padded dash board, clock, optional Regal interior with carpet, special designed “ S “ floor mats, contrasting with color code, optional bucket seats with console and color code seat belts built by Ratsy, and window washers and power antenna, and last but not least fog lamps, plus climatizer air control. I have seen these trucks really super and then plain Jane all in all. They were a very good, strong and reliable automobile.

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