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Sold 1938 Studebaker President Eight

1938 Studebaker President Eight




Wagon makers since the middle of the 19th Century, the Studebaker brothers of South Bend, Indiana had been active in commercial vehicle manufacture long before the arrival of the ‘horseless carriage’. Having made a fortune out of horse-drawn transportation, the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company built the first of its own automobiles in 1902- an ‘electric’ designed by Thomas Alva Edison.

Its first gasoline-powered motor car followed in late 1903. Studebaker enhanced its reputation throughout the 1920s with a succession of rugged six-cylinder models, but company president Albert Erskine wanted an eight in the lineup. The result was the President, which first arrived in 1928.

This is a Second Generation Model and in 1938, the company offered a remote-controlled "Miracle-Shift" transmission which featured a dashboard-mounted shifter.


  • One Family Owned since 1954 and we understand this to be the only example in New Zealand.
  • This brilliant car definitely takes the surtax of fine car luxury. When it was new in 1938, it made it unnecessary to pay more to get more than an ordinary car gives. It was completely new in every vigorous flowing line. It had the clean cut rhythmical simplicity of a skyscraper reinforced by steel safety and strength.
  • Its interior is exceptionally wide and exceptionally luxuriously appointed.
  • Its independent Planar Wheel Suspension and finest hydraulic shock absorbers gave it the unforgettable comfort of the Studebaker Miracle Ride.
  • It offered the Studebaker Miracle Shift and included such advancements as Studebaker's Automatic Hill Holder, Studebaker's Non Slam Safety Door Latches and safety glass all round, at no extra cost. It should be noted that this car features this vacuum assisted gear shift mechanism, called “The Miracle Shift”, with the shift lever mounted in the center of the dashboard.
  • Painstakingly built with care that made Studebaker craftsmanship the envy and the marvel of the automobile world at the time.
  • Electrical system is 6 volt. Comes with a 6V trickle charger which plug comes out from under the left front seat, next to isolating switch.
  • Starts well - Pump accelerator 5-6 times, depress clutch pedal and push starter button...car starts easily and runs on automatic choke.
  • Car has 3 speed manual transmission with vacuum operated gear selection. The engine must be running to select a gear. There is syncromesh on 2nd and 3rd gear.The transmission also has mechanical overdrive, which was an optional extra at the time. To use overdrive, one needs to accelerate to 40-45mph, push in the chrome knob under right side of dashboard. This selects the freewheel function. When up to speed simply release the accelerator pedal briefly and then accelerate again. One will feel the overdrive engage and notice the engine revs drop. When the car slows down the overdrive will dis-engage and there is no engine braking.
  • Almost everything functions as it should, with these few exceptions; The clock and radio are not working. However, the clock could be made to work if required. Not sure about the radio. The latch for the quarter window of left front door is broken and the broken piece lost. We suspect a complete new latch may have to be cast and machined to suit. The window in right rear door is seized, through lack of use. The handle is actually seized in the winder mechanism. The other windows function although left rear is stiff. The switch for indicators is under right side of dashboard. Must be manually turned off. This was fitted during restoration as car never originally had indicators.
  • Beautiful bodywork and paintwork. Car is pretty much Mint.
  • Interior is Mint - Leather Upholstery, carpets / Door cards / Hoodlining / Dashboard like new.
  • Drives like a dream and that Straight 8 is just so smooth. The straight 8, 4.1 litre, 110 bhp motor starts first time every time, in spite of its 6 volt electrics. We can confirm it is capable of 100mph (160kph). Since restoration, it has never been driven in the wet. This Studebaker President sedan is an original right-hand drive model, built for export. It is in excellent restored condition. Its next owner will have nothing to do but soak up the sheer enjoyment of owning and driving this magnificent automobile.
  • The car won its class in every Studebaker Nationals that it attended, and was outright winner in 2004.


  • This vehicle was registered new in New Zealand on 1 September 1940 to NZ Distributors Ltd of Grange Road, Auckland. It remained there for five years before ownership passed to Todd Motors in Wellington. Subsequently, it passed through the hands of several Courtenay Place car dealers. In April 1947, ownership gravitated to the South Island. It remained there until July 1954 and its been in the care of the same family since, in fact for nearly seven decades.
  • After years of use, the Studebaker was stored in a barn on the family farm. It remained there from 1970 until 2002. At this time, a decision to either sell it or restore it needed to be made. Fortunately, the latter prevailed, and a local Hamilton shop was entrusted with the project. Over a period of 18 months, the car was stripped, the engine removed and body panels displaced. The leather upholstery and trim were given a similar level of service. New window glass was procured and the grille badge re-enameled. The transmission was also serviced.


  • The restoration was carried out in 2002-03 and performed by a semi retired man who had previously worked for many years for Wallace McNair in Hamilton, New Zealand.


  • The engine was removed from the car and removal of the cylinder head showed rust in the bores and seized pistons. Pistons were removed and the engine was dismantled. Luckily the bores honed up clean and the pistons were able to be re-used. New rings were fitted.
  • The con rod bearings were worn so replacements were sought, but to no avail. So bearing shells of very similar size were machined to fit.
  • The main bearings were fine and with no wear on the crankshaft, they were re-used.
  • The camshaft journals were worn, so new ones made.
  • The valves were replaced with new ones machined from blanks.


  • All body panels were removed leaving just the body on the chassis. After careful examination it was decided to leave the body on the chassis as no corrosion was found in the chassis at all. The chassis was stripped and painted with POR15 anti rust paint. Remarkably there was no structural rust in the bodywork either, just surface rust from all those years in the barn. All panels were stripped of paint by hand using both chemical stripper and abrasives. In all we stripped away 7 layers of previous paint!
  • Then the body and all panels went to a paint shop, the panels were all painted separately off the car. It was at the painters for 6 weeks, but it looked stunning in its bright new paint. The colour is called Intense Black.
  • All chromework was replated or replaced. This proved particularly troublesome, as much of the die cast parts such as door handles were badly corroded. Repair was impossible for many of these parts, so in the case of the door handles I had new ones cast in bronze using the old pieces to make the mould. The new pieces were then chrome plated.
  • All window glass was replaced with new, as were window rubber mouldings, all except the rear quarter window rubbers.
  • The grill badge had a chip out of the enamel. Unable to locate a new badge, the damaged one was re-enameled.


  • The brake system was completely renewed, all new pipes, hoses, linings etc.
  • A completely new wiring loom was made. The 6 volt system was retained.
  • The transmission, 3 speed with freewheel and overdrive, was serviced with new bearings and seals, and again has proven totally reliable. The "Miracle Shift System" was rebuilt and again works perfectly.


  • All interior upholstery and trim was replaced.
  • The boot (trunk) is fully carpet lined also.
  • The steering wheel was in bad shape, so it was completely rebuilt around the original steel frame.


Great Car...Great Investment - they just don't build cars like this anymore. Solid and reliable - Real cars and this one is an absolute Gem. Great for Napier Art Deco and Events of the sort.

Car was professionally valued back in 2020 for NZD85K. We actually think that the car's market value today should be more than that, but its here priced to sell and being offered below market value, so please, no silly offers.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for a Responsible and Mature Buyer.

Nothing to do - just drive and enjoy.

Car will be sold WOF'd and Registered, if sold in New Zealand.



This vehicle has been sold

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DISCLAIMER (Please Read)


Waimak Classic Cars accepts that the vehicle being sold must be of “acceptable quality” in terms of section 7 of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (the Act) having regard to “the nature of the goods”.

Waimak Classic Cars is not aware of any specific defects with the vehicle, however (a) such a vehicle being a classic vehicle may have mechanical breakdowns, electrical failures at inconvenient times and maintenance costs being part of and parcel of ownership of a classic car; (b) reliability is a combination of the particular nature of the classic vehicle, how it is being driven, how it has been maintained, and to a certain extent luck.

The Purchaser acknowledges that the vehicle is being sold as a classic car; that in terms of the Act and the nature of the goods, the vehicle, is an old car that may have faults, unlike a modern motor vehicle.

The Purchaser is encouraged to personally fully inspect the vehicle and/or to have the vehicle inspected, fully assessed and maintained by an experienced classic car mechanic.

The Purchaser acknowledges that they have read and fully understand this notification and the nature of a car which is many years old.

For more information about this vehicle, please contact us Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 6:00pm (New Zealand Standard Time) on +64 (0) 3 310-6485 / +64 (0) 274 990-020. Alternatively, you may email us at info@waimakclassiccars.co.nz anytime.

PLEASE NOTE: Waimak Classic Cars is Not a car yard dealer type of operation. As a result, we do not operate through fixed opening hours and viewing is By Appointment Only.