AMT 1/25 1953 Studebaker Starliner
KIT #: A-1251
PRICE: $25.00
DECALS: One  option
REVIEWER: John Summerford
NOTES: Can build one of three versions


Courtesy of Classic Driver

Studebakers boasted spectacular styling for 1953 courtesy of designer Bob Bourke of the Raymond Loewy studio based in Studebaker’s hometown of South Bend, Indiana. The dramatically sleek car, inspired by the Lockheed Constellation, was astoundingly low by 1953 standards at just 56.3 inches high while accentuated by a long 120.5 wheelbase. The drive train was a 232-cid, 120-hp V-8 and automatic transmission. What should have been a magnificent sales year for Studebaker, turned out to be a rather ho-hum one at-best. Studebaker focused more on sedans rather than coupes, and production ills developed as front-end sheet metal failed to fit the coupe body at first. Demand for the new coupes outpaced sedans four-to-one catching Studebaker product planners off-guard while a strike at the Borg Warner plant curtailed availability of automatic transmissions. The car received numerous design awards and today serves as a landmark of modern design. 19,236 Commander Starliner Coupes were produced for the model year of a total 151,576 Studebakers; fewer than the 1952 model year, dropping the company to tenth in industry sales.



Frequent readers may suspect that I’m not much of a car guy, so it took some packaging to get my attention. While cruising the website of my (nearly) LHS, the photo of the lid to this tin box and the headline caught my attention. Readers may also suspect that I gravitate to more unusual subjects, so when the package appeared on my doorstep, I quickly tore into the box.

My first observation was that the parts are nicely packed into 12 bags. The second observation was that this is very much a late-60s-early-70s mold. No flash is present on my example, but there are heavy seamlines to clean up. Round 2 proudly notes in the preamble to the instructions that the sprue gates on the chromed pieces are on the back side of the parts. It looks to me that many of the seams are also strategically located.

The total parts count is 113, but which parts are used depends of which version one chooses to build--stock, custom, or racer. The custom version will require some surgery to lower the roof. It, and the racer, use the tinted window parts.

The first step calls for building the engine, either standard or racer. Spark plug wires are not supplied. The next two steps concern the chassis-wheels, then the interior. The instructions are clear as to which parts to use for which version. A metal axle is provided for the rear wheels and a complete suspension is built up for the front wheels and should be able to posed in a turn. There are no decals for the dashboard. Color notes are generic, indicating paints such as “steel”, “black”, or “interior color”. What interior, or exterior, color to use is left up to the imagination. Step four is the body assembly and the final step is about external details that depend on the chosen version.



The box lid depicts the stock version, while on one long-side shows a custom car and the other side the racer. I spent about half-an-hour on the internet looking at different painting options. The only factory paint scheme that I could verify is that depicted on the lid--red body and white roof. Possibly, another factory scheme is teal body and pale green roof. My example’s body could use some polishing before priming. I suspect that files and patience will be needed to get parts to fit well. I’m sure that car modelers will find that this is a typical kit. The end result should be a sleek looking car.

John Summerford

November 2021

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