Pick of the Day: ’50 Studebaker Starlight Coupe, still a controversial design

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

Studebaker’s signature bullet-nose styling, which appeared in 1950, was originally planned to be a third headlight that swiveled along with the steering. Great idea, but the company bean counters figured out it was too expensive a feature for the modestly priced cars, so it became a chrome embellishment instead that jutted out above the grille like the nosecone of a rocket.

The front end was controversial from the start, but even more so when combined with the wraparound rear window and long truck lid of the Studebaker Starlight Coupe, which had critics opining that you couldn’t tell whether it was coming or going.


Designed by the legendary Virgil Exner when he was with the Raymond Loewy team and before making his mark at Chrysler, the Studebaker coupe stands as a unique piece of industrial design, different from anything before or since.

The Pick of the Day is a 1950 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe, the top-of-the-line model powered by its matching-numbers 245cid side-valve inline-6, which generates about 100 horsepower, linked with a manual transmission that’s equipped with overdrive for highway cruising.

“These Studebakers are well-regarded as one of the most strikingly futuristic cars of its time,” according to the Milford, Michigan, dealer advertising the coupe on ClassicCars.com.  “This Commander has been documented with a Studebaker National Museum production order record.

“It’s been refinished in its original color of Shenandoah Green. The interior has been refinished in beautiful tan houndstooth using NOS materials.”


These Starlight Coupes with their bullet noses are what’s most-often pictured whenever someone mentions Studebaker, but they were produced for just two model years, 1950-51, losing the nose for ’52 and with entirely new designs appearing in showrooms for 1953. 

This one looks like a strikingly nice example, in stock condition with no updates.  These cars have long been popular for collectors, as well as street rodders who are trying to make a statement.


Changing anything on this Studebaker would be a crime since its in such good stock condition.  The 5-digit odometer is pictured in the ad showing just 33,821 miles, although there is no mention in the ad whether that’s the original mileage or if it’s flipped or been changed.

The asking price for this unusual example of mid-century styling is $30,000.

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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