Monday, April 28, 2014

What Were They Thinking?: 1955 Studebaker Starliner Facelift

I might have labeled this post "Styling Crime: 1955 Studebaker Starliner Facelift" because that applies equally well.  The Starliner hardtop coupe Studebaker introduced for the 1953 model year is generally considered one of the finest automobile designs ever.  That means that improving upon it is a near-impossibility.  So what to do for next year?

For 1954, Studebaker added small, thin vertical "teeth" or bars to the grille.  Retrograde, for sure, but only a small step.  Then for 1955 some kind of panic must have set in for corporate marketers and stylists were ordered (I assume) to slather the poor car with chrome and gaudy two-tone paint jobs in order to be in tune with the rest of the American automobile industry.

The sad results are presented below.


The well-known photo of styling consultant Raymond Loewy posing with a 1953 Starliner.

Advertising image of 1953 Studebaker Commander V-8 Starliner.

Photo found on the Web of a Commander Starliner showing the front end in greater detail.

Advertising photo of facelifted 1954 Starliner.  Note the new teeth in the grille.   It's possible that this image is a re-touch of a 1953 Studebaker: the changes were that mild.

Here is an advertising card for the 1955 Studebaker Speedster.  For some strange reason, the front end is not shown.

These images from the Internet show 1955 Studebaker Commander hardtop coupes (not the top-of-the-line Speedster).  Behold the glory of the restyled grille, the swath of chrome along the side and the two-tone paint arrangement.

Finally, an image of the Speedster featuring its front.  The two-tome paint scheme is different from that of the basic Commander shown above and is better (though unnecessary).  Another difference between the models is a large chrome band reaching across the top just aft of the door; it shows up better in the advertising card image above.

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