Studebaker Champion

The success of the Champion in 1939 was so important to Studebaker's survival following their weak sales during the 1938 model year. The Champion was an automobile of the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. Production began at the beginning of the 1939 model year and continued until 1958. At that point, the model was phased out in preparation for the 1959 Studebaker Lark. Unlike most other cars and although very costly, the Champion was designed from scratch. It did not share or utilize older parts. Prior to this time, Studebaker had been trying to return to a profitable position. They were very much on the brink of disaster. The Champion was one of Studebaker's best-selling models on account of its low price. For example, the price was $660 for the two-door business coupe in 1939. Further, the model had a durable engine and attractive styling making it well worth the low price anyway. This was a true combination of affordability and durability, and to boot, it did not look too bad. Market research funneled the selection of features, but a key principle adhered to was "Weight is the enemy". This resulted in the fact that for its size, it was one of the lightest cars in its era. The design of the car was handled by industrial designer Raymond Loewy who was at the time under contract with Studebaker for the design of their automobiles. Champions won economy runs by posting the highest in gas mileage tests. Further, during World War II, Champions were desirable for their high fuel economy in a time when gas was rationed in the United States. Additionally, from 1943 to 1945 the Champion motor was used as the engine for the unique Studebaker M29 Weasel model. The Weasel was a personal and cargo model thus making it quite peculiar.