Motor City

30 July 2016

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Lot 136

1937 Studebaker J5 Coupe-Express

  • Engine no. T-1963

Sold for $77,000

90 bhp, 218 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, solid front axle suspension with Houdaille shock absorbers, hypoid rear axle, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 116 in.

  • One of just 3,125 built for 1937
  • Stylish Raymond Loewy design; forerunner to the Ranchero and El Camino
  • An older restoration that still presents nicely
  • A high-style favorite among Studebaker aficionados

Having re-tooled its entire lineup in 1936, Studebakers for 1937 received a streamlined facelift, for which famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy was responsible. In addition to a more pointed grille, an alligator hood, opening from the front, and extended hood louvers were added to what was already a handsome automobile. A new model was added, too, called the Coupe-Express. This dual-purpose vehicle offered passenger car comfort and three-passenger seating in a commercial car that offered greater hauling capacity than the typical business coupe of the times.

In reality, Studebaker foretold the coming Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino pickups . . . 20 years ahead of its competitors. The unique model was manufactured from January to July 1937, with just 3,125 built. Production continued through 1939 with just over 5,000 in total of the stylish pickup produced. It was quite a high-style bargain at $695 before options. All Coupe-Express models came with the spare tire mounted on the right front fender. Based on the six-cylinder 5A Dictator chassis, it shared its front-end sheet metal with its passenger car sibling. A new panel was fabricated to enclose the cab, while a robust 16-gauge, double-wall steel pickup bed was fitted, enabling a carrying capacity of half a ton.

A favorite among Studebaker aficionados, this Coupe-Express is nicely presented. It was the beneficiary of a high-quality, well-documented restoration in 1994; proof is in the veritable pickup load of trophies and awards to back this up! Finished in original Studebaker Gray with appropriate blackwall tires on grey painted wheels, the beltline is subtly highlighted with red pin striping. Though an older restoration, the paint quality remains very good and the chrome trim is excellent. The side-mount spare tire is fitted with a color-matched cover while the interior has been fully restored to a high standard in grey leather—believed to be a rare factory option. Since restoration, the vehicle has seen limited use and remains in beautiful condition, just barely showing signs of break-in on the leather seating.

Underhood, the 218-cubic inch L-head inline six-cylinder engine presents nicely with a tidy engine bay showing signs of limited use. The six is mated to a three-speed transmission and feeds power through a stout 4.55:1 rear axle. The undercarriage has been restored to the same standard as the rest of this fine truck and remains in wonderful order. Extensive documents are included in the sale, including restoration receipts, awards, ribbons and trophies, club regalia, and photos of the restoration.

This delightful truck was clearly owned by a proud and passionate enthusiast and will no doubt serve its new owner proudly.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more