Studebaker Commander Special

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As promised, here is the Studebaker Commander Special that appeared on Australia Day in the park in Melbourne.

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Fortunately the weather and light were perfect to capture this car without untoward glare or shadowing. I can’t speak highly enough of the standard of finish of the Special – it is a worthy sports car of the inter-war period – even if it did not come out of a dedicated factory in that shape.

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I think it is hard to say how much of the shape of the coachwork was really thought-out before the construction began – I suspect that there was a fair bit of cut and try as with hot rod projects. Some of the lines may not have been what the builder actually wanted to achieve but I think that everyone who saw it felt that the final shape came out very well. Of course you can trace the line of the bucket and the bonnet but I wouldn’t be surprised if the boat tail was entirely a new design.

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The springing and suspension also caught the eye. So many hot rod designs current use coil springs and A-arm assemblies from contemporary vehicles that we forget most cars swung or hopped on leaf springs at the time. Of course people can invent tube-arms and all sorts of wishbones to suspend modern racers, but some of them get to looking like ships masts due to complexity – nice to see the simple security on this one.

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Also nice to see a cockpit that suggests speed but has enough space to squeeze a skinny passenger in. The tonneau cover is a nice touch considering the sort of weather for which Melbourne is notorious. I think I should wear a leather flying helmet and goggles for this one, or at least turn my flat cap backwards as I drove. No scarves, though – I saw ” Isadora “…

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Note particularly the flash of metal on the side panel of the bonnet just above the exhaust pipes – echoed on the LHS by a similar line. Looks to be pure ornament but I daresay it stiffens the panel and keeps legs from contacting the hot metal of the pipe. The termination of the exhaust is pure 1920-30’s style. No function other than to tell other people that you have it and they don’t.



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