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 It was replaced by the M-Series in 1939, which was superseded by the 2R in 1948.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.