1921 Studebaker Special Six Touring Car


At the risk of being held in contempt by Studebaker afficionadoes, we think this 1921 Studebaker Special Six Touring car still has the Studebaker 289 ci Straight Six cylinder engine it was born with. Although there is no documentation to verify the engine is the original straight six, the build date stamped on the engine is 12-23-1921. Period photos, manuals and titles come along with the car. Chicago Car Club in Chicago, Illinois indicates that they believe the drivetrain was the original one to the car. 

The car seems to have spent most of its life in Arizona. In fact, it comes with a number of photos of the car and its owner from the early 1950s, thanks to the Mohave County Historical Society (Arizona), as well as title and registration documents from 1969-2001. All of the documents seem to verify long-term, Arizona-based ownership. There is also a photo log documenting a complete restoration of the car in the early 2000s, with the paint work having been done by RS Collision of North Dakota and the mechanical work having been done by RW Auto Center and County Line Machine, both also of North Dakota.

Chicago Car Club says, “As it sits now, this is a nicely presented, very correct, well-sorted example that is in need of nothing and is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner. (Read their ad at their website.) 

They say the exterior of the car is painted its correct shade of dark blue with black fenders. It is not a trailer queen, but shows well for a driver quality vintage car. A good description of the condition is included with the ad description on the Chicago Car Club website. 

Here is a walk-around video done by Chicago Car Club. It is interesting to hear it start and run. 

The car runs and drives nicely, according to their description. They say it idles smooth and steady, shifts nicely, tracks and brakes straight. The car has two batteries, one to run the 12-volt system for the updated starter, and one for the 6-volt system the car was born with for lights, etc.

Studebakers of the Era

Most 1921 Studebakers came with six cylinder engines. In fact, Studebaker was known for its powerful six cylinder engines during that era. The four-passenger Touring car would have cost $1,750 in those days. It would have had a crank starting system. 

Up until 1920, the Studebaker Corporation of America in South Bend, Indiana was still making horse drawn vehicles along with automobiles. But with their lineup of reliable six cylinder passenger cars, Studebaker was hitting its stride as an automobile manufacturer. Sales in 1921 reached almost $100 million, the company showing $10 million in profits on its books. There were years when a stockholder’s dividend reached 90 percent of the stock’s par value. 

The Special Six you see here was produced at the Studebaker plant in Detroit, Michigan. This car is well preserved for its age. It is driver quality, not trailer queen quality. So you know it runs. “The car runs and drives nicely. Idles smooth and steady, shifts nicely, tracks and brakes straight,” they tell us.

Studebaker built their first 289 ci straight six cylinder engine in 1913 and it was in production until 1926. Hundreds of thousands were built and many are still running. You have to remember that from 1915 to 1933, Albert R. Erskine was president of Studebaker, and he favored the “six cylinder only” policy for all those years. In fact the cars were called Special Six and Big Six models. This Studebaker is VIN 3001849, and the engine number is 39001-6 with a date stamped on the engine (see photo on the ad page) of 12-23-1921. Chicago Car Club says the engine is believed to be original to the car.

When the new Studebaker Model EJ came out in April of 1920, it had improved valves, positive feed engine lubrication, a transmission lock and new single-disc clutch. It was one of the best performing cars of its day. According to historians, it offered its owners reliability that Studebaker had built its reputation on. It also was considered up-to-date in styling and ride quality for its passengers. Nearly 28,000 units were produced in 1921. 

The 1921 Studebaker Special Six Touring is featured this week in the Cars-On-Line.com newsletter, the most popular read in the collector car hobby. 

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