Back to the Future Again

Studebaker 1953 Starliner coupe

Australian motoring journalist Tony Davis wrote about the legendary Studebaker in his column in the «Sydney Morning Herald»’s “Drive” section recently. (As I did a month or so ago in this Journal.) It features an advertising photo of a Studebaker parked at Los Angeles International Airport, with the astonishing space-age theme building in the background. It is a restaurant now, and was when I dined there a decade ago. I like it so much I used it as a romantic destination in my verse version of Baudelaire’s poem “Elevation”. Here’s Mr Baker:

Studebaker achieved its early design-led successes under the guidance of the legendary stylist Raymond Loewy. There was also the flamboyant Virgil Exner and the underrated Robert Bourke… The Starlight coupe of 1947 was described by many as the car Buck Rogers would drive. (If you don’t remember Studebaker, Mr Rogers is probably even more obscure.) The clean lines and massive wraparound rear glasshouse of the Starlight gave it a “coming or going?” look and the Bullet Nose (from 1950) seemed to point straight at the future. Superbly styled European-influenced (although American-sized) models appeared in 1953. Even into the 1960s — by which stage financial troubles were immense — Studebaker design stood out.