Wagon makers since the middle of the 19th Century, the Studebaker brothers of South Bend, Indiana had been active in commercial vehicle manufacture long before the arrival of the 'horseless carriage'. Having made a fortune out of horse-drawn transportation, the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company built the first of its own automobiles - an 'electric' designed by Thomas Alva Edison - in 1902 and its first gasoline-powered motor car late in 1903. Studebaker enhanced its reputation throughout the 1920s with a succession of rugged six-cylinder models, but company president Albert Erskine wanted an eight in the line-up and the result was the President, which arrived in 1928. A medium-priced six, the Commander became available with the straight-eight engine for 1929 and used this unit exclusively from 1931, the six-cylinder version being dropped. The Commander was dropped from the range in 1935, only to reappear for the 1938 season as an all-new six-cylinder car.
This Studebaker Commander sedan is an original right-hand drive model built for export and registered in the UK on 1st November 1938 as 'FGP 496', which it retains. It is believed to be one of only two survivors from ten vehicles shipped to the UK that year. The car is powered by Studebaker's 226ci (3.7-litre) sidevalve six, which is coupled to a three-speed manual gearbox. An interesting feature is Studebaker's 'Hill Holder', which retains brake pressure while the car is stationary on steep inclines and is only released when the clutch is re-engaged. Studebakers of this period are renowned for being powerful, reliable, comfortable and above all very driveable.
According to the registration document, 'FGP 496' has only had two previous keepers. We are advised that the car has spent most of its life as an indoor display item and more recently has been kept in a secure dry garage. The recorded mileage of 49,500 miles is believed to be genuine, though there is limited supporting paperwork. The vendor states that the car is original in almost every respect and has recently undergone a thorough mechanical and electrical overhaul. The paintwork and interior are said to be all original, benefiting from expert refurbishment to improve their appearance while retaining their original qualities. Offered with sundry bills and a V5 registration document, 'FGP 496' is now in occasional use for pleasure and as a chauffeur-driven car for promotional events and film work.