Studebaker Land Cruiser – 1934

Necessity is the mother of invention, and Studebaker was in need of inspiration after the financial collapse of 1933. The extraordinary Land Cruiser resulted, causing a sensation at the 1934 New York Auto Show.

In fact, its creation had been stimulated by a rapturous reception received by the Silver Arrow at the previous year’s event. That streamlined machine bristled with design and technical innovations and purported to come from subsidiary Pierce-Arrow, though the five prototypes were constructed at Studebaker’s South Bend plant.

Though Studebaker could not afford to put this advanced design into production, an idea was born after the company received permission to trade out of trouble. The range was rationalized into three models – President, Commander and Dictator – and it was realized that a completely different body style with echoes of the Silver Arrow could be created without retooling. This was achieved by taking a standard four-door sedan and modifying the rear end.

The result was spectacular – creating a car that looked like a streamlined new model with advanced features including an integral trunk, wraparound four-light rear window and enclosed rear mudguards. The Land Cruiser body was Studebaker’s prestige offering and was initially available only on Presidents, though it was later extended to the Commander and Dictator DeLuxe. As the most expensive body choice in each model, Land Cruisers were not big sellers in 1934-36 but they headlined marketing campaigns and made a vital contribution to the company’s revival.

But no American auto manufacturer made a mass-market success of streamlined body shapes in the 1930s, despite many trying, and though the Land Cruiser continued as a periodic body option, evolving over the years, they were never made in large numbers and good drivable examples are rare today. But for all that it was one of the most important Studebakers ever made.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

USA

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1934 (until 1936)

ENGINE:

4.0 l (250 cid) Straight Eight (President); 3.6 l (221 cid) Straight Eight (Commander);

3.4 l (205 cid) Straight Six (Dictator).

PERFORMANCE:

The President Land Cruiser could reach 90 mph (145 km/h)

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The centerpiece of Studebaker’s display at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34 was a massive model Land Cruiser, painted yellow, that was 80 ft (24 m) long, 28 ft (8.5 m) tall and 30 ft (9 m) wide … typifying the imagination and marketing flair that enabled the company to trade out of bankruptcy.

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