While recuperating this weekend (happily, I’m feeling much better), I did some fantasy classic-car shopping, because that’s what everybody does, isn’t it? That activity put me in mind of a Stude we saw at a classic car show, one I fell immediately in love with (Detroit gals fall and fall hard for cars sometimes…me, it’s often).
Clean, sporty lines (thanks to the smart styling of Raymond Loewy), a great colour combination reminiscent of a favourite ice cream—but alas, we just were not in the market at the time, however tempted I was! I do seem to recall that it was respectably above the car’s original sticker of $3,253.
Chevy’s Corvette was $2,800—but we must keep in mind that despite the lack of a glove box (whoops), the Stude can seat two plus accessories comfortably while a sitting in a ‘Vette can be an enlighteningly claustrophobic experience. The Speedster also boasts of a really lovely interior, complete with diamond-quilted leather upholstery. The coupe marked the return of Stude’s vaunted President line after a 15-year disappearance from the brand’s lineup.
It’s easy to see why the Speedster was the Studebaker’s crown jewel in 1955, the only year it was produced. Sexy as can be for a Stude, don’t you think? I’ve three separate shots of this front fender—the details were not height-of-the-50s-chrome-madness, but they have a subtle glamour. This is not a car that’s trying too hard. She’s in a trim Dior suit, not a sequined bustier, just going about her day.
Beneath this gleaming hood is a 259.2cid high-performance Stude small-block V8 with 185 horses, the engine that came standard with each Speedster. The Speedster was Studebaker’s post-merger-with-Packard (alas—Oh, Packard!) attempt to gain attention at shows and draw folks to the showroom—it wasn’t even meant to be a production vehicle. Happily, the response was so positive it ended up as just that!
2,215 Speedsters rolled off the line in Indiana (420 were built in California); the most popular colourway (all Speedsters were two- or three-tone—don’t you miss the 50s?!) was Hialeah Green & Sun Valley Yellow, which car buffs usually just refer to as “lemon-lime”.
There was also this mint-chocolate chip (my own designation); Salmon, Grey, and White; and Black and Ermine White; according to the brochure, it looks like thee was also Red & Black (of course!); Coraltone and Pimlico Grey; Pimlico Grey & Ermine White (I do love the colors named for Thoroughbred tracks!); Black and Yellow (or is that dark green?); a two-tone green and a two-tone blue. If anyone has the actual names, do share them!
Taking a peek at ConceptCarz, it appears that only 16 Speedsters have come to auction since 2001; the average sale is just under thirty-five grand, with the highest sale being $77,000 (I’d love to see THAT Speedster!); according to a Hemmings Classic Car columnist in 2012, paying from the mid-thirties for a Speedster is fair, with forty grand being top dollar.
Not only does that sound about right to me, considering not only the Speedster’s rarity but the cost of today’s far less stylish (to say nothing of less visually interesting) cars, I’d much rather spring for a Speedster like this one than a newer vehicle.
I’ve seen many, many gorgeous old cars for sale in my years as a car buff and vintage car photographer, but this Speedster is the one that keeps coming back to mind. She’s the one I really wish I’d given more thought to splurging on, and that despite the fact that I’m more of a Packard dame (if we’re looking at the two that clung to each other ’til the death one dragged the other to), and of course I just melt when standing before ’58 Impalas and ’57 Fairlanes, among others.
Of course, this one was on the market and, again, as stunning as she could be, unlike some of the other cars I’ve photographed; thus she’ll probably always be in the back of my mind.
Can you blame me?
Shameless self-promotion: All of the Speedster photos in this post are available for purchase; some are even in stock, just not in my shop yet. If you’re interested in one, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
More about Studebaker’s Speedster
History of the 1955-1958 Studebaker President at Hagerty
StudebakerSpeedster.com (The author has a handsome black & white)
A Lemon-Lime for sale at Volo Auto Museum in Illinois
Coraltone & Pimlico Gray Speedster photos