Pick of the Day: 1952 Studebaker Starlight coupe, rare one-year design

As the company celebrated its centennial, it produced a transitional model

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Studebaker did a front-end redesign for 1952

Having started building farm wagons in 1852, Studebaker was celebrating its 100th year of continuous operation in 1952, when it designed a face-lifted version of its popular Commander model.

Basically, the 1952 model-year car lost its controversial bullet-nose front end in favor of a more-conventional but still unique design, which was slanted back aerodynamically.  But while the front was transitioned, the unique feature of the Starlight coupe version remained: a wraparound rear window that goes all around the back of the cabin from B pillar to B pillar.

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The 1952 models were an interim design that lasted just one year as the Studebaker coupes were completely redesigned for 1953, with beautiful results.

The Pick of the Day is a 1952 Studebaker Commander Starlight coupe that just came out of a large estate collection compiled by a “serious” Studebaker fanatic, according to the Maple Lake, Minnesota, dealer advertising the scarce model on ClassicCars.com.

“Rare Starlight, only 5,000 made, but maybe 20% were built as the top-of-the-line Commander model, and of that 20% even fewer were V8s,” the seller says.  “Totally different dash, trim, emblems and interior and exterior trim, and V8 emblems.”

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The V8 is a major plus for the Studebaker, with more power and drivability for today’s roads. This one is equipped with a 3-speed column-shifted 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive for highway travel.

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“She runs, drives and performs nice (fun to drive),” the dealer notes in the ad. “Very peppy especially with factory 3-speed with gas-saving overdrive.”

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The Studebaker is a totally rust- and accident-free example that is believed to have very low mileage.  The car collection from which it came was overseen by a curator who kept the cars in top condition, the seller adds.

“The curator thinks the Starlight has 06,700 miles (not 106,700),” the seller explains (the odometer actually shows 6,667 miles). “Miles cannot be verified because Starlight was in the collection 10 years before he started to work for the owner, and his wife didn’t have any idea. But you can tell your friends it has very low miles because she looks the part.”

The Starlight coupe certainly appears to be in great original condition from the photos in the ad, with an interior that looks just as good as the body, which is painted in the lush factory color of Rio Green. 

The unusual and rarely seen Studebaker is reasonably priced at $14,950.

 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.

18 COMMENTS

  1. A guy in our naberhood always had suterbakers I remember then well good cars he even had a 2 door hard top was a great car when he wood come home and go to bed his son and me wood take it for a ride around town we were about 13 at the time

  2. I’ve been a fan of Studebakers since I was 10 years old (1957) when I could really begin to appreciate them. I am interested in this car. If not sold I would appreciate you contacting me.
    Thank you
    Bill Coke
    Clarksville, TN

  3. Love the car. One of my favorite styles. The actual Starlight coupe production for 1952 was 22,265 total, of which 8911 were Commanders. All Commanders were V-8s. The rest were Champions which were all 6s

  4. My dad tells the story of the first time he saw one of these cars. It was ahead of him in traffic but hadn’t really noticed it until it got closer. He swerved onto the shoulder thinking it was the front end coming at him!

  5. I am interested. Is this vehicle capable of making weekend cruise and road trips? How are the rubber parts and suspension? I would have to ship it to Dallas,do you have any recommendations? Can it be driven to Dallas?

  6. I have a friend here in the Buffalo NY area who has an identical 1952 Commander Starlight coupe, It happens to be the same color, V8, and is also equipped with overdrive, a desirable engine combination. The wheel covers on this one are from a 1956 Studebaker, which look fine, but the original ones are still available. This looks like a good sound car for someone. I have owned several Studebakers in the past, and for the last 36, have owned a 1948 Land Cruiser, which I’ve driven everywhere. Parts, BTW are relatively easy to come by compared to some other cars I have.

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