The 1940 Studebaker Champion

4/24/2019
Tad Burness
Studebaker had no great success with its first two subsidiary brands of cars. Its 1927 Erskine Six was a "European-type" early compact car, smaller than the average Studebaker. But it grew to full Studebaker size in 1930, and within a short time, it was renamed the 1930 Studebaker Six, with little changed but the nameplate.
 
Then, in 1932 and 1933, Studebaker built the Rockne, another low-priced, six-cylinder car. It was named after Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame University football coach who'd also been moonlighting for Studebaker's sales department on the side. Rockne was killed in a plane crash in 1931, so the new 1932 car honored him in name.
 
 
Studebaker's third low-priced car was the 1939-introduced Studebaker Champion, which bore the name Studebaker first and foremost after the board nixed the idea of naming it Champion only. Champion competed directly with the "Big 3" (Chevrolet-Ford-Plymouth), and in 1941, the Studebaker Champion two-door sedan was priced slightly lower than each of the “Big 3” versions--until Ford introduced its new Ford Six later in the season.
 
Notice that by paying only $35 more, one could buy a Studebaker Champion coupe in 1940 with a pair of fold-down "opera seats" in the back, suitable for kids or for adults who were not too tall or stout. When not in use, the seats conveniently flipped up, out of sight, into twin compartments at the rear, clearing floor space for luggage, bags or boxes of groceries, etc.
 
Unfortunately, seat belts were not used in those days, so people riding sideways were at risk.
 
 
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