1953 Studebaker_tatteredandlost
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In my post at my vernacular photography site about the PRR S1 locomotive I posted information about the designer Raymond Loewy. In the Wikipedia article he is also credited with designing this car, the 1953 Studebaker. However, the article also says that it was actually designed by Virgil Exner. When I go to Wikipedia for information about Exner it says he was fired by Loewy in 1944 and went to work directly for Studebaker. So I'm not finding anything definitive as to who actually designed the car. Well, actually it gets more confusing because this article at the Smithsonian, says that Bob Bourke designed the car. Basically I don't know, but I'll go with Virgil Exner and let someone in the net world come along and clear this up for me.

In the meantime here's some information about Exner who most certainly did design many cars I remember from my youth.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Virgil Exner was adopted by George W. and Iva Exner as a baby. Virgil showed a strong interest in art and automobiles. He studied art at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana but, in 1928, dropped out after two years due to lack of funds. He then took a job as a helper at an art studio specializing in advertising. In 1931 he married Mildred Marie Eshleman, who also worked for the studio and, on April 17, 1933, they had their first child, Virgil Exner Jr. By that time, Exner Sr. had been promoted to drawing advertisements for Studebaker trucks. They had a second son in 1940, Brian, who died of injuries after falling from a window.

General Motors
His first work in design was for General Motors, where he was hired by GM styling czar Harley Earl. Before age 30, he was in charge of Pontiac styling.[

Loewy and Associates
In 1938, he joined Raymond Loewy's industrial design firm Loewy and Associates, where he worked on World War II military vehicles and cars, notably Studebaker's 1939-40 models, and advance plans for their revolutionary post-war cars. "But working on Studebaker designs… Exner struggled to get the attention of his boss, who had to sign off on every facet of the designs. Exner was encouraged by Roy Cole, Studebaker’s engineering vice president, to work on his own at home on backup designs in case the company’s touchy relationship with Loewy blew up".

Studebaker Corporation
In 1944, he was fired by Loewy and was hired directly by Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana. There he was involved in the design of some of the first cars to be produced after World War II (Studebaker's slogan during this period was "First by far with a post war car"). As acknowledged by Robert Bourke, Virgil was the final designer of the acclaimed 1947 Studebaker Starlight coupe, though Raymond Loewy received the public acknowledgment because his legendary name was a major advertising attraction. Exner is actually listed as sole inventor on the design patent. Rivalry and bad feeling between the two resulted in Exner having to leave Studebaker, whose engineering chief Roy Cole provided personal introductions for him to Ford and Chrysler. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To read more about the history of Studebaker click here or click here to go the Studebaker museum.

To read an interview with Bob Bourke click here.

To see another beautiful Studebaker click here to an early post of mine.

And to see a Studebaker that definitely was not an award winner see my old post showing a vintage Studebaker post card.

Personally I think this 1953 model is a beauty and I'd love to have one. Bright red.

This ad is from the August 7, 1953 Collier's magazine, inside front cover.


  1. I had a friend by the name of Dobbins whose father owned a FLEET of Studebakers - matter of fact, I think his granddad probably owned a Studebaker wagon as a first vehicle, but that's another story altogether.

    His dad gave him a 1956 Golden Hawk as his first car when it was ten years old, and the way he explained it was that his dad had not been told it didn't have a Studebaker engine in it - but a Packard.

    It looked a little like this one in the ad, only I can guarantee it was faster by far than your own, even if you customarily spend your days at Pomona Raceway.

  2. And how well did the cops know our friend? First name basis?