The 1941 Studebaker M5 was a unique pickup truck that combined style and functionality.The 1941 Studebaker M5 pickup truck was the first “true” pickup-style vehicle designed and marketed by Studebaker. More properly called the Coupe Express, a name derived from earlier Studebaker models based on passenger-car styling, this pickup was meant as a real workhorse. It was based on the Studebaker Champion sedan, but with a longer wheelbase and a redesigned front end.
The engine came from the economical Champion series of passenger cars while a solid front axle was substituted for the passenger car’s “Planar” independent front suspension. The M5 was powered by a 170 cubic inch six-cylinder engine that produced 80 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. The M5 had a payload capacity of 1,000 pounds and a top speed of 75 miles per hour.
For an extra $24.47, however, the Studebaker customer could order a dress-up kit that added a stainless steel grille bar, hood ornament, bright side moldings and monotone paint instead of the standard black fender color.
Production of the M5 Coupe Express continued with no changes through January 1942, at which time the line came to a halt for the demands of World War II material instead of civilian trucks.
These trucks are relatively easy to restore, thanks to a robust gauge of sheet metal to resist rust-through and rot and the availability of Champion mechanical parts from Studebaker specialists. Their very plainness is a plus in keeping restoration costs within reason, and the fact that they were continued virtually unchanged for several years past World War II is a big help if you’re in need of a donor vehicle for body parts or other bits and pieces.Mechanically, they are simplicity itself and a good way to learn the basics of engine work and maintenance—or to introduce your kids to the intricacies of restoration. The M5 was one of the most popular trucks in its class, selling 4,685 units in 1941 and over 52,500 till 1948.
Besides being welcome at all the major vintage car and truck club events, there are at least two active Studebaker clubs that provide camaraderie, excellent marque information through their magazines and websites, and a full slate of activities for Studebaker car and truck owners coast to coast. The 1941 Studebaker M5 is a valuable collector’s item today, admired for its elegant design and reliable performance. Not only that, if you have a business, it would make a nifty mobile advertising/publicity vehicle for you.