The 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight was created by legendary Raymond Loewy with its final design touches added by Virgil Exner. It was an instant classic and its bullet-nose front has become one of the most iconic American automotive designs.
“The Studebaker's Starlight coupe – sold in both low-priced Champion and luxurious Commander model lines – was the most special iteration of all postwar Studebakers and tested one's credulity,” Automobile Magazine's June 2009 issue penned. “The rear window wrapped around to meet the B-pillars, as the C-pillars were dispensed with entirely. Rear-seat passengers were treated to the equivalent of a Cinemascope-styled picture window.
The body style was and is nothing short of sensational and continued to be offered when the freshened bullet-nose design debuted. If ever there were a Studebaker to, so to speak, out-Studebaker all others, it would be the '50-'51 Starlight." The 1951 model offered an enlarged grille made flush with the body and by its all-new V-8 under the hood. The 120-horsepower engine lasted through the end of the company's car-building days in the 1960s.
Studebaker owners, including those with Starlight Coupes, were pleased with their automobiles, as indicated by a 1951 customer survey taken by Popular Mechanics. Though even some owners thought the car's styling was "slightly radical, the majority were very happy with the automobile's performance, superior visibility, the rare need for maintenance and easy handling. Paired with a standard three-speed manual or optional three-speed Automatic Drive, the 1951 Starlight reached 100 miles per hour with ease and without rattling or jerking. It also gave the driver 28 miles per gallon.
America's Car Museum’s 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe was restored by Dick Hannah Dealerships in Vancouver in 2009 and was frequently on display at the dealership's showroom before it was added to the LeMay collection. Dick Hannah Dealerships has been a family owned business since 1949, serving Vancouver and Portland for generations.