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1952 Studebaker Specs & Registry page

 

A 1952 Studebaker car will be one of two models, depending on the engine:

 

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Under the hood of a 1952 Studebaker will be a metal body tag, like the one pictured here.

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Body type codes for 1952:

K = Starliner hardtop

C = Starlight coupe

S = Convertible

F = 2 door sedan

W = 4 door sedan

Y = Land Cruiser

The digit “2” refers to the trim level.  In 1952 Champion trim levels were either Custom, DeLuxe, or Regal.  All Champion hardtops were Regal Trim.  Commander levels were either Regal or State.  All hardtops were State level trim, although again the digit used was a 2.

All body shells of a particular type of car were also numbered, this is shown by the lower number on the tag.

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Commander hardtop production (3H-K2) : 14,548   Weight – 3,220 lbs.  Factory price, summer 1952 - $2,488.00

Champion hardtop  production (12G-K2) : 12,119    Weight – 2,860 lbs.  Factory price, summer 1952 - $2,220.00

 

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Identifying a Commander or Champion:

Besides the engine and hood emblems, there are other differences between the Commander and Champion models.

However, unlike earlier year Studebakers, no difference exists in the wheelbase.  The exterior and interior dimensions of the

cars are the same.

The dashboards are quite different:

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At the rear of the car, a Commander will have a V8 emblem and a Commander script.  A Champion will have neither.

2 different commander scripts were actually used, the block letters being the earlier style.  Below are examples.

(items like fender spears, reverse lights, and bumper guards are optional equipment.)

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Some 52 Starliners were painted a single color.  But it is most common to see them two-toned.

Here are the combinations available that year.

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Studebaker Centennial Celebration

During the 1952 Centennial celebration, A Commander hardtop was selected as the last car to come off the line in the first

Studebaker 100 years.  Click here for more on this special car.

 

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1952 Indianapolis 500

Studebaker paced the Indianapolis 500 for 1952.  The actual pace car was a Commander convertible, but several cars

were taken to the speedway for support purposes, including six Commander hardtops and

one Champion hardtop.  Click here for more on these cars.

 

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1952 Studebaker Starliner registry

Any 1952 hardtop runner, project, or non-runner is welcome here.  Please contact me with additions,  changes, or removals.

Serial numbers will be tracked but not posted.  Any known history, options, or stories are welcome.

 

Text Box: 1.  Champion - Body 9657
Owner:  Dan Branch - Michigan
Status:  Project car – photo 2009
Color:  (originally) Shell Ivory over Maui Blue
Options:  OD trans, Whitewalls, Wet air cleaner, AC2193 Climatizer, AC2118 Discs (full hupcaps)

Purchased in 1997 from the Studebaker Museum overstock auction.  Restoration and modification is still underway.  Serious rust repair in all floors.  Home built narrowed rear houses a 9” Ford.  Setup for Chevy 454 and turbo 350.  Planned for street driving, Studebaker cruising, and drag racing at the local track, US 131 motorsports park.  


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Text Box: 2.  Champion - Body 4256
Owner: Louis Zobrosky - Indiana
Status: Restored - photo 2007
Color:  Venice Red over Surf Gray

I've talked with Mr. Zobrosky at a couple of Studebaker drivers club shows in the South Bend area.  He let me look his car over as a reference, as I wasn’t sure how a few pieces should be installed.  While the car started life as a Champion, a Studebaker V8 now resides under the hood.  According to the serial number, this car was produced at the Los Angeles plant, rather than in South Bend.  Ironic that it now calls Indiana its home.

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Text Box: 3.  Champion - Body 11788
Owner: Laurence Metz – British Columbia
Status:  Restored - photo 2007
Original color: Nocturne Blue over Maui Blue
Options: Originally hubcaps, hill holder, air cleaner.  But Larry has added a radio, cigar lighter, trunk light, clock, and retractable antenna.

Note also the front bumper guard, and he has the fender  top ornaments to add as well as fender skirts.   If you look close you’ll also see the “starliner medallions” on the C pillar.  These are rarely seen.  This is the latest production car I know of so far, built November 21, 1952 and then shipped to Billings Montana.  Larry also has a 52 Champion Starlight coupe.
I have a bunch of great pictures of this nice Champion, so here is a view of a correct interior and engine bay and well.

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Text Box: 5.  Commander - Body 10824
Owner: Glen Reints
Status: Restored - photo 1994
Color:  Shadow green over Rio green
Options:  OD trans, Whitewalls, Wet air cleaner, AC2193 Climatizer, AC2118 Full wheel discs, AC2195 directional  signals, AC2111 Stratoline push button radio, AC1853 Strat-o-Vu mirror, AC2116 gas door guard, AC1875 cigarette lighter, AC2201 electric clock, AC2202 front bumper guard, AC2138 rear bumper guard, AC1851 exhaust deflector.

This shot of the Reints’ Commander is from the August 1994 Turning Wheels magazine.  That issue explores the 1952 models in depth.  The car looks just as good today and scored a 394 point 1st place at the 2007 International meet.  They have owned their hardtop since 1970, when it was purchased with only 38,864 miles on it.  Even so, the car had been abandoned and it took some restoration over the years to get it looking this good.  Besides the many options listed below, this hardtop has a rare leather interior.  This was an option on any convertible or hardtop 52 Studebaker.

Text Box: 4.  Champion - Body 6212
Owner: Ed Fisher – Florida
Status: Restored - photo 2007
Color: Shadow Green over Rio Green

I had a chance to chat with the Fishers on the show field at the 2007 SDC international in South Bend.  The car looked great and scored very well.  The double green color combination was very popular on the 52 hardtops.

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Text Box: 6.  Commander - Body 8691
Owner:  John O’Larey - Alaska
Status:  Driver - photo 2007
Color:  Shadow green over Rio green
Options:  Automatic transmission, 3.54 RR axle ratio, White sidewall tires Firestone, Wet air cleaner, Solex glass, AC2193 Climatizer, AC2118 Full wheel discs

I cannot imagine too many 52 hardtops are driving around in Alaska.  John knows all the options on the car because he has the original production order.  These are still available from the Studebaker national museum.  The production order also lists other things like:
Model 3H K2 CUB
Paint P2390 RIO SHAD
Trim 7843

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Text Box: 7.  Commander - Body 13267
Owner: Maury & Becky Schuddinck - Nebraska
Status:  Driver - photo 2007
Color:  Shadow green over Rio green

Becky contacted me after she and her husband picked up a 52 hardtop at auction in Wyoming.  She says the condition is good and the engine runs great.   They plan on giving it some attention and fixing up some things to make a nice driver.  This looks like a fantastic find to me.  The popular Shadow/Rio green again, and the later commander script.  Even the pot metal here does not look too bad.

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Text Box: 8.  Commander - Body 2746
Owner: Jose Rubio
Status: Rally car - photo 2006
Color:

The 2 pictures at left are the same car, before, and after.  The top one is the car as it sat in a junkyard in San Angelo, Texas.  The lower one was taken during the 2006 La Carrera Panamericana race.  Quite a transformation!
53 Studebakers are a popular choice for this race, but it is really good to see a 52 hardtop out there keeping pace.  In fact in 2006 the car finished 3rd in class, and 17th overall out of 96 entries.
According to Jose the car was built for the Turismo production class.  Class restrictions are 305 C.I.,  4 speed transmission, solid rear axle, and finished the car must be within 5% of its original weight.  No doubt there are other requirements as well.
The build up for racing included a camaro front clip and Chevy 302.  It has a Richmond 4 speed and Ford 9” rear out back.  Afco spindles and hubs, Willwood brakes, and a 6 point roll cage.  The decals on the car do not lie, it really is powered by propane gas.

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Text Box: 9.  Commander - Body 7638
Owner: Dean Pearson
Status:  Project Car - photo 2009
Color: Shell Ivory over Maui Blue

This Commander is on its way to being saved and modified.  Dean and I have been talking about how similar his project is to my own hardtop project.  There will be Ford 9 inch out back and Chevrolet power from an LS series small block.
Dean got a lot of extra parts with the car, including an entire bullet nose front end which is going to be fitted on.

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Text Box: 10.  Commander - Body 10495
Owner: Glenn Shull - Colorado
Status:  Restored - photo 2009
Original color: Nocturne Blue over Maui Blue

Here is a recent picture of the car Glenn has been working on.  He says it's about 90% finished now, still some trim work to go.  It sure looks good.  Under the hood the original 232 has made been replaced by a 4 barrel Stude 289 surrendered from a 61 hawk.  And check out those fender skirts.  Always a Colorado car, It was delivered new to Fort Collins motors.

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Text Box: 11.  Commander - Body 3536
Owner:  Matthew Burnette - Georgia
Status:  Rough project – photo 2006

Matthew is from a Studebaker family and got this car from his uncle.  It's rough and has a Chrysler front sub-frame.  Matt has a C cab truck and a 58 sedan that keep him busy, so there are no plans to restore this 52.  It has pretty much become a parts car. 

12.  Commander - Body 9665
13.  Champion - Body 6609

These next 2 cars are in the Burnette family junk yard.  Georgia rust is working them over pretty good.  So they are down to parts car status.

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Text Box: 14.  Commander - Body 12272
Owner: Mulberry, Florida scrapyard
Status:  Nearly gone - photo 2008

Here is how Commander #8269589 sits today in the bright Florida sun.  I’m afraid this one isn’t going very far under its own steam anytime soon.  Looking over the pictures, it’s tough to even find a useable part off here.  Amazingly rusty.  It's been there so long, the only paint that survives is what found shade under the trunk handle!  Another un-glorious end for one of South Bend’s finest.

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Text Box: 15.  Champion - Body 518
Owner: Rob Stockton, Montana
Status:  Driver - photo 2007

Here is an extremely interesting Studebaker with some custom touches.  Note the 55 Ford side trim, 62 mercury taillights, and the glass sky top!  It's a recent acquisition for Rob and he has a few other Studebaker projects lined up to work on first.  But this will be a old style retro-rod.  Because of some existing damage on the front, he is thinking about a 50/51 bullet nose.   
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Text Box: 16.  Champion - Body 2656
Owner: Terry Nichols and Nancy Weeks, Texas
Status:  restored - photo 2009

This nice Surf grey Champion has found a new home in Texas.  They are excited to have the car as Nancy's great uncle worked at Studebaker for a long time.  


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Text Box: 17.  Commander - Body 6448
Owner: David Lust, Washington
Status:  project - photo 2010

This faded Shadow green / Rio green Commander looks pretty solid.  The engine is not running at present.  The transmission is a 3 speed with overdrive.  The front fender top ornament is a rarely seen option.
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Found, and awaiting Photo...

16.  Commander  - Body xxxx - James Dellies, Michigan

17.  Champion - Body xxxx - James Dellies, Michigan

18.  Champion - Body 260 - Charlie Case, Nevada

 

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More??

Click here for a look at other cars not yet identified on the registry.

I am hunting for 1952 Studebaker hardtops!  Please help me locate new cars to add to the registry, or find info on those shown below.

Contact me