A look back at the 1941 Studebaker Commander

From its inception and throughout its history, Studebaker, an automotive company founded by a group of German brothers, was known for its innovative designs and technological applications. Notably, one of his designs, the 1941 Studebaker Commander is a pre-war independent classic car it is both rare and beautiful. The model’s full name is Commander Sedan Coupé, which distinguishes it from several other Commander models introduced in 1941.

It is one of the first products of the long-standing partnership between Studebaker and Raymond Loewy Associates. In fact, the Studebaker brothers’ first “horseless carriage” was an electric vehicle. Management has fought to compete with the big three throughout the company’s history, but it has proven to be an uphill battle due to volume differences.

This “slipstream” car, designed by Loewy, aims to look like it’s moving even when it’s not, as well as saving gas and having clean lines with an Art Deco style . Some liberties have been taken with the interior in restored condition, and these are unmistakably improvements over the original.

Related: These are the best characteristics of President Studebaker from 1958

An epic 1941 Commander Studebaker story

Albert R. Erskine, president of the company in the early 1930s, was determined to put Studebaker on a par with the Big Three by turning away from high-end cars and embracing the low-cost market. Neither the cheap car Erskine named after himself (plus the Rockne) nor an even less inspired idea to merge with the failing Pierce-Arrow worked. Due to the failures, Erskine committed suicide as the company faced financial distress.

After emerging from bankruptcy, Studebaker adopted a new light-six design and decided to use it in a new, less expensive car, the Champion, which debuted in 1939. The Dictator was the name given to a more great Studebaker before it was renamed Commander due to the rise of totalitarianism in Europe and beyond. To commemorate the Champion’s debut, the Loewy team has redesigned the new Commander.

In 1940 and 1941 the Commander, which was in the middle of Studebaker’s model range, received minor cosmetic adjustments, resulting in the pioneering personal coupe. During the pre-war years these were some of the most elegant and attractive automobiles ever produced. The commander of 1941 introduced two significant styling changes: a one-piece curved windshield and the removal of running boards. Inside and out there are numerous fluted and contoured crests. It’s a very sharp car, in keeping with the spiffiness that was beginning to pervade the growing number of mid-priced American cars.


Related: 10 Cars That Prove Studebaker’s Disappearance Was A Tragedy

The exterior and interior design of the 1941 Studebaker Commander draws attention

The exterior is black with a chrome-edged red “belt trim” that runs along each side, and the sand adds to the illusion of movement while remaining still. A large double-bar bumper and two die-cast grilles with vertical vanes sit low in the front fenders, providing ample protection against minor collisions. The leading edge of the hood is decorated with a chrome ornament representing a vaporous “S” on an oxblood red background. On the apron, another 19-inch-long die-cast ornament is centered. The styled taillights are long and narrow and, unlike previous years, they are mounted in the body rather than in the fenders. This configuration has the advantage of offering an illuminated luggage compartment.


The interior includes a two-tone luxury steering wheel, leather panels around the front door window controls, a two-tone instrument panel, bolster-like pleated upholstery, and front and rear floor mats. The passenger compartment is dressed in blue-grey cloth upholstery. The dashboard area with the instrumentation has a lot of Art Deco flair. The front and rear door sills have been replaced with machined aluminum strips in a swirling pattern, which add a nice touch to the interior.

Powertrain with amazing performance: the 1941 Studebaker Commander

This Commander’s L-six engine dates back to the 1932 Rockne 65. In 1941, displacement was increased to 226 cubic inches, with 94 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 176 lb-ft of torque. From 1936 to 1941, this engine was one of the most fuel efficient on the market, winning its class every year. The car’s suspension consists of a single, 48-inch-long, 2.5-inch-wide, grease-wrapped transverse leaf spring. The spring was bolted to the center of the front cross member and to the lower king pin yokes at each end.


Houdaille lever-type front and rear shock absorbers were used. Adding a rear sway bar improves handling. Automatic hill support, which was standard on Commanders, was another “first” mechanic for Studebaker. When the clutch was engaged, the driver could park on an incline and take their foot off the brake without worrying about kickback. This fantastic Studebaker features overdrive, allowing it to maintain highway speeds! Radial tires also make driving easier.

Sources: ClassicAutoMall, Hemmings


Team Rutledge Wood's widebody Supra gives Toyota the 750 horsepower it deserves

Team Rutledge Wood’s widebody Supra gives Toyota the 750 horsepower it deserves

Read more