1946 Studebaker Pickup Abandoned for 50 Years Gets Rescued, Engine Refuses To Die

When talking about vintage pickup trucks, we usually refer to haulers made by Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. And that's not surprising. The Ford F-Series goes back to 1948, while Chevy built a few iconic pickups before the Silverado became a thing, including the C/K, Task Force, and Advance Design. Likewise, Dodge had the D-Series as a successful predecessor to the Ram.
1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck 11 photos
Photo: Jennings Motor sports/YouTube
1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck1946 Studebaker M5 pickup truck
But the truck market had many other contenders before and right after World War II, mainly from independent automakers that didn't make it to the 21st century. International Harvester, for instance, offered the K and KB Series from 1940 to 1949. These were followed by the L and R Series from 1949 until 1955. Carmakers like Hudson and Studebaker also produced pickup trucks for a while.

Relatively unknown outside the Hudson fan club, the Big Boy series was essentially a Super Six full-size car with a bed. It was very stylish and came with 102 horsepower on tap, but it wasn't popular. Introduced in 1940, the pickup disappeared in 1948 when Hudson debuted its revolutionary "step-down" design.

Studebaker, famous for the Avanti and the Golden Hawk, produced pickup trucks for a few decades. Like most automakers, Studebaker started with a car-based pickup in the 1930s. It was called the Coupe Express and remained in production for only three years. It was replaced by the M-Series in 1939, which was superseded by the 2R in 1948. Studebaker then launched the E-Series in 1955 and the Champ in 1960. The latter entered the history books in 1964 as the company's last light-duty truck.

Don't worry if you haven't heard about any of them. They were overshadowed by offerings from the "Big Three." And since they weren't as popular as their Ford and Chevrolet rivals, many were left to rot away after a few years in use. But that's precisely why I get excited whenever someone saves an old, abandoned Studebaker truck. Like the 1946 M5 example you see here, which was neglected for a whopping 50 years.

Unfamiliar with the M5? Well, it's part of the M-Series truck line that Studebaker built from 1938 to 1952. The lineup also included a 3/4-ton version called the M15, a 1.5-ton variant called the M15A, and the two-ton M16. The latter is related to the military-spec US6 truck. The M5 was the smaller 1/2-ton version of the M-Series.

Recognizable through its wing-shaped front grille, the M5 is notably more aerodynamic than most trucks of the era. It was also the only US truck to feature door vent windows; Ford did not offer them until the late 1940s. Sporting a 113-inch wheelbase, the M5 used a 170-cubic-inch (2.8-liter) "Champion" inline-six to move about. The flat-head-type mill delivered 80 horsepower when new.

Not surprisingly, for a vehicle that spent 50 years of the road, this Studebaker hauler is in poor condition. Most of the metal work is covered in surface rust and mold, while the cabin is missing its original bench, most of which was consumed by rot. On the other hand, the floors and most body panels are still in one piece, which is downright amazing, given the prolonged exposure to the elements.

All told it's the kind of vehicle you wouldn't expect to see running and driving again without a massive overhaul. But as it turns out, the old inline-six wasn't yet ready to give up. Sure, it's overheating and doesn't have what it takes to take the M5 for a spin, but it's a great start toward rescuing a rare and underrated vintage truck. Check it out in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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