the view through the windshield
1950 Studebaker - Rainbow Connection

Even though the 1950-51 Ford outsold the '50-51 Studebaker by more than fourfold, people of a certain age remember the Studie much better. After all, a rainbow-painted 1951 bullet-nosed Studebaker was one of the stars of 'The Muppet Movie'.

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In August 1949, when 'The Next Look' 1950 Studebaker was unveiled, featuring the company's signature "bullet-nose" for the first time, it was a winner - more popular than even the 1947 model. Despite the promotional hype, '50 Studies were identical to the 1947-49 models except for the bullet nose, minor trim, and vertical instead of horizontal taillights. 1950 models also featured an improved front suspension with coil springs instead of the transverse leaf suspension of earlier models.

Robert E. Bourke, an automotive stylist who was working for the renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy, was largely responsible for the 1950 Studebaker's styling. The bullet nose design was first proposed in 1947 to Studie executives.

Demand for the bullet-nose '50s proved so strong that Studebaker added a third shift at its large South Bend factory and ran its Southern California and Hamilton, Ontario, assembly plants at capacity.

A 14-month long model year produced 343,164 cars - the most for any model year in Studebaker's long history. By the end of 1950, company employment was up to 25,000 - a peacetime record.

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Tom McCahill tested the 1950 Studebaker and called it "one of the best dollar values today. They're not the fastest cars on the road but they're tops in comfort and quality." On a 6-cylinder 85 horsepower Champion sedan, Unk recorded 0-60 in 17.6 seconds.

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After 1950, Studebaker's sales and profits declined. By 1954, the firm was losing money. But in those early bullet-nose days, it was flying high.

Sherlock car blogStudie's unique bullet nose lived on though. In the late 1950s, it could be seen as the nosepiece on coin-operated Astro Rocket Ship kiddie amusement rides found outside supermarkets.

Driving around Portland in July 2005, I got a glimpse of a highly customized '50 Studebaker 5-window coupe on a flatbed car carrier. It had been slammed and converted into a fastback pillarless hardtop. Painted jet black. Stunning. But the chrome bullet-nosepiece was left stock.

My quickie sketch of the custom Studie - based on a 5 second stare - doesn't really do it justice. (posted 7/30/10)

Remember When: 1950
auto blogIn 1950, as Communism spread, the U.S. took a stand against it, cutting diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, offering aid to France in Indonesia and sending troops to support South Korea after its invasion by the North. Senator Joseph McCarthy led the search for Reds in the government.

The U.S. Census showed a growth in U.S. population to 154,233,00. Oregon, Washington and California had a net population gain of over 50% in the prior decade.

A butter shortage forced Congress to repeal a 64 year-old tax on oleomargarine. To control a mounting deficit, the U.S. postmaster general cut mail delivery to once a day. Surgeons performed the first kidney transplant.

New 1950 products included Sugar Pops cereal, Minute Rice and plastic squeeze bottles for toiletries. The first Club Med opened in Majorca. The Hopalong Cassidy craze began; the demand for black Hoppy hats reportedly created a shortage of black dye.

Haloid Corporation (later re-named Xerox) introduced the first commercial photocopying machine. The Paper-Mate pen, which "neither leaks nor smudges" made its debut, racking up sales of $300,000 in its first year. By 1953, sales soared to $19 million.

New words included litterbug, heliport and nerve gas. Actress Elizabeth Taylor married Conrad Hilton Jr., son of the hotel magnate.

Top songs included 'Goodnight Irene', Thin Man Theme', 'Frosty The Snowman' and Theresa Brewer's 'Music, Music, Music'.

Among the many new television shows were 'Beat The Clock', 'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show', 'The Jack Benny Show', 'Groucho Marx's 'You Bet Your Life' ("presented by your DeSoto Dealer") and Sid Ceasar's 'Your Show of Shows'. Popular movies included 'Father of the Bride', 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'Harvey' and 'Sunset Boulevard'.

Among those appearing on the obituary pages were Ransom E. Olds, George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell and singer Al Jolson.

In baseball, the New York Yankees won the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other Pages Of Interest

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