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6 things you didn't know about Studebaker pickup trucks6 things you didn't know about Studebaker pickup trucks

Attractive Studebaker truck in Indiana-made-only display raises questions.

Tom Bechman 1

August 22, 2016

2 Min Read

OK, maybe you didn’t know the Indiana automaker Studebaker even produced a pickup truck. It did. But that’s not one of the six things you are about to learn about its Champ truck, produced from 1960 to 1964. Consider that a freebie fact.

Memories of the Champ were rekindled when a perfect specimen was displayed in a tent for tractors and trucks made only in Indiana at the Indiana State Fair's Pioneer Village this year. The exhibit was in honor of Indiana’s bicentennial year.

Here are six things you likely didn’t know about Studebaker pickup trucks. Thanks to Wikipedia for providing the information for this article.


1. The Champ model introduced in 1960 used a chassis and cargo box from half- and three-quarter-ton models used since 1949. The Champ was the first new model from Studebaker in a decade. Engineers were strapped with limited budgets due to slumping sales.

2. The truck cab was modeled off of Studebaker’s Lark car model. And that actually might be an understatement. Word is that engineers cut a Lark in half behind the front doors of a four-door sedan. The result was a perfect fit, and the truck cab was modified from there.


3. Studebaker introduced the sliding rear window. Believe it or not, the sliding back window that is still popular on trucks today first appeared on the Champ pickup by Studebaker. It was a feature on Champ models from the start, and is considered one of Studebaker’s better ideas. Most major manufacturers were offering sliding rear windows within a short time of Studebaker's introduction, and it remains a universal feature on many pickups today. If you want to win in a game of trivia, ask which company first introduced the sliding rear window. You’re almost a guaranteed winner!

4. Studebaker was the first company to introduce a pickup with carlike comfort. Since the cab was directly patterned after the front half of a car, the interior truly had carlike comfort. It was several years before most other manufacturers followed Champ’s lead.

5. The Champ was one of the first American trucks, if not the first, to offer service bodies constructed of fiberglass. The steel service body is still the most common today in pickups. However, service bodies made of fiberglass and composites have gained acceptance ever since the concept was introduced, quite likely on the Champ in 1960.

6. The truck pointed the way to future smaller yet still rugged pickups. Twenty-seven years later, Dodge would claim to have produced the first small but rugged pickup, the Dakota — classified as a midsize line. Yet many automotive historians believe one could argue that the Champ actually pioneered the concept of a smaller yet rugged pickup truck.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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