The 1942 Studebakers: Wartime Austerity

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment


Vintage 1942 advertisement for the Studebaker President, Commander and Champion models

Pursuit planes and battleships: the 1942 Studebakers in a nod to WWII

This ad for Studebaker’s 1942 President, Commander and Champion models certainly pays homage to the fact that the country was at war. As pointed out at howstuffworks.com (as well as in the ad itself), that fact also affected the production of the company’s cars. To begin with, in August of 1941 the U.S. government ordered car companies to stop offering whitewall tires, due to the Japanese having cut off access to Malaysian rubber. As shortages grew, even spare tires were eliminated, and in December of that year Studebaker started shipping cars with only four tires.

The article continues: “Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor would soon bring almost all automobile pro­duction to a government-imposed stand­still. Before taking this drastic step, however, officials sought to con­serve certain critical metals like chrom­ium, nickel, and stainless steel by requiring most brightwork to be eliminated. (The bright trim on completed cars still in stock had to be painted over.)

Consequently, all Studebaker cars built on or after January 16, 1942, were considerably altered in appearance by this regulation. Stude­baker referred to these cars as ‘series 90,’ since 1942 was the company’s 90th birthday. Today, however, they are generally referred to as ‘blackout’ models. In order to provide vehicles that would ap­proximate the beauty of their more glittery predecessors, Studebaker did much research on the use of noncritical metals like Indium silver, and utilized baked-enamel finishes in colors that would offer pleasing contrast to that of the body.”

According to the ad, this did not impair “Studebaker’s traditional standards of quality.” I also like how they elegantly phrase, in the last line, the notion that “you may use your present car as part payment.”

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