A huge swathe of American automotive history is covered by the “President” name for this (in various incarnations) was the premier model manufactured by the Studebaker Corporation of South Beach, Indiana from 1927 until 1942. It had such resonance that the name was revived in 1950’s. But the only true classics are the “Eights” produced between 1929 and 1933.
Dynamic Studebaker president Albert Russel Erskine did well with mid-market cars but had a dream-to build America’s best automobile. He bought the luxury Pierce-Arrow marque in 1928 and set about creating the premier Studebaker. His chosen vehicle was the President line, which made its debut as Studebaker’s top-of-the-range offering in 1927, before getting a smaller but more powerful straight eight engines in 1928.Thus equipped, President Eights served as the basics of successful racing cars and set land speed records, some of which stood for years.
The Eight was reworked by the legendary Delmar G ‘Barney’ Roos in 1929, making it one of the most impressive vehicles of the early Depression years and the finest car ever to emerge from South Bend.
These large, handsome vehicles came in a wide variety of attractive body styles, with impressive stretched sedan at one end of the range and sporty roadsters at the other. The engine was further improved in 1931, increasing horsepower and torque, but Erskine’s drive for perfection was about the have a very unhappy ending.
His ambition to create America’s best had delivered something special in the President Eight, but he sold these superior machines that were the equal of expensive marques like Cadillac, Chrysler and Packard for too little money. Though sadly the consequences were disastrous–Studebaker went bust in 1933 and Erskine committed suicide. The President lived on restructured company, but as a smaller and very different car.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1928 (until 1933)
5.5 l (337 Cid), 4 0 l (250 Cid) sidevalve Straight Eight
Up to 90 mph (145 km/h) depending on body style
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
One of the Studebaker model lines than ran alongside the President in the 1930s was the Dictator… a not altogether admirable choice of name at a time when Mussolini and Hitler were busy strutting their stuff in Europe.