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1953 Studebaker Starliner Rag Top


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Recently, I came across a photo of a 1:1 1953 Studebaker Starliner Coupe that the guy had converted to a convertible after the hardtop had been damaged.  Always looking for something different to build and having the AMT/ERTL 1953 Studebaker kit in my stash,  I sat to work on building my own Studie rag top.  Also, I might mention that Studebaker never made a Starliner convertible.

I started by carefully cutting off the roof being sure to leave the side wing windows.  I then reshaped the trunk area.  Wanting to give this a mild custom look, I added wheel well molding and rocker panel trim using styrene strips.  The front and rear bumpers were modified by removing the bumperettes and enlarging the rear license plate area.  The taillights were modified with scratch build lenses and aluminum tubing was used for the exhaust tip.  I wasn't happy with the way the front fascia looked so I added about 3mm to each end which lowered the fascia giving it a better look.  Also, the car was lowered in the front end per kit instructions.  Other scratch built items include the antenna, sun visors, window cranks and interior door handles.  The purse in the front seat is from the Tamiya Campus Friends set with an added styrene strap.  The convertible boot came from my spare parts and was modified to fit the Studie.  The wire wheels and tires came from a '62 Thunderbird.  

I used Scale Finishes Silver Jade over Tamiya white primer for the body color.  After the paint was dry, I rubbed it out using Novus #2.  No clear coat was applied.  Instead, I waxed the exterior using Meguair's Gold Class wax.  Interior paints are Model Masters and I used a combination of Bare Metal Foil, Alclad ll Chrome and Molotow Chrome pen for the bright work.  The engine and engine  compartment was detail painted and I added spark plug wires using fly tying wire.  Also, the chassis was detailed painted and a X brace was added to the frame to better support the convertible configuration (sorry no photo).

This was an enjoyable build that adds another unique - one of a kind - subject to my ever growing car collection.

Enjoy the photos.

 

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Looks great. Makes a gorgeous ragtop.

Rumor has it that the factory actually built two convertibles for internal evaluation.

Some years back, there were photos circulating of a car that was supposedly one of them, very rough, but with top bows and workmanship that were far and away better than what you'd expect from most customizers. 

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Wow, that looks so right! The roadster that should have been... It really makes a great looking convertible; nice job and great idea!

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Thanks for the comment and I too have heard the rumor regarding the two built for evaluation.  Too bad that Studebaker didn't follow through with the concept, it could have been a real money maker for them.

2 hours ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

Looks great. Makes a gorgeous ragtop.

Rumor has it that the factory actually built two convertibles for internal evaluation.

Some years back, there were photos circulating of a car that was supposedly one of them, very rough, but with top bows and workmanship that were far and away better than what you'd expect from most customizers. 

 

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Love the modifications and sourced parts utilization.   You gave new life to one of AMT's better classic kits.  Great build!

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Posted (edited)

Studebaker should've made a convertible, makes a beautiful car even better!

I like the color combination and the wire wheels. Kinda reminds me of an Aston Martin. And that's a good thing!

Edited by Oldcarfan27
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Great work! That's as clean and as beautiful a piece of work as I've ever seen.

The 1953 Studebaker convertible has been a subject of special interest to me ever since I saw it on a local (New Orleans) newscast in 1954 when I was 5 years old. It made a BIG impression! The factory only built one but it's been a source of mystery and confusion ever since. It's been repainted many times and was out of sight for long periods of time. It was built as a 1953 painted metallic gray and updated to 1954 exterior appearance (and repainted in a light tan) when the new models came out. The interior was left as a 1953. In 1954 it was loaned to a New Orleans dealer to be used in Mardi Gras parades - that's how I saw it on the news. There are a number of non-factory conversions around and some are done to very high standards.

Anyway, the whole story is too long and intricate to tell here but these are the most recent photos that I'm aware of. They were taken in 2015 when it came out of hiding because it was purchased by well known (in the Studebaker world) Stude enthusiast Ed Reynolds.

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Great job making this into a convertible . The colors with the interior and the stacked folded top give the appearance of something costing far more than a Studebaker, The Hudson style A pillar looks like a style they may have used in that era. Using the wire wheels with thin white walls look in keeping with a highline car. All of the finishes and the added trim moldings give your build a very OEM look.  

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On 5/3/2021 at 7:22 PM, Hi-Po said:

Thanks for the comment and I too have heard the rumor regarding the two built for evaluation.  Too bad that Studebaker didn't follow through with the concept, it could have been a real money maker for them.

 

I believe one may be in the Studebaker National Museum. I couldn’t see an inventory on their website but they have a lot of Studebaker prototypes.

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Beautiful job on the conversion! Wanted to do one myself, ever since I was a kid. I too have to wonder why they never offered a convertible. Even more of a mystery is why they showed off that one prototype to the public, the way they did. Oh well, definitely a piece of history!

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