Home » The Other Land Cruiser: Cold Start

The Other Land Cruiser: Cold Start

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Quick – what’s the car you picture in your head when you hear the words “Land Cruiser?” That’s what I thought. It’s not bulbous, turret-topped blue beast up there with the rear suicide doors, is it? No, I bet it isn’t. And yet, the first Land Cruiser was just that, a post-war Studebaker luxury sedan. That one up there, parked in front of the house full of well-dressed people who like to loiter in the sun and stare at things.

This was the Land Cruiser you were thinking of, right?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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The Toyota Land Cruiser didn’t actually appear until 1951, but Studebaker had been using that name since 1934. The 1947 one up there was actually pretty revolutionary, the first American post-war car with an entirely new body design, making the Big Three crap their pants and realize they needed to get back into the post-war game. As you can see in the picture, Studebaker was taking full advantage of the opening of America’s Strategic Carpet Reserves now made available thanks to the end of the war:

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I’m not exactly sure what the mean by “black light” instrument-dial illumination; it seems that instrument markings were painted with a zinc sulfide paint that glowed, like a watch dial, along with purple-filtered light bulbs. Here’s some other features of the original Land Cruiser, told via ribbons:

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Anyway, my goal with all of this is for someone to find one of these and show up at some Toyota Land Cruiser meet-up and see what happens. I bet they’d be delighted!

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Scott
Scott
10 months ago

Thanks Jason. Now I want some zinc sulfide.

Slirt
Slirt
1 year ago

Well it wasn’t a TLC meet-up, but i saw this one last weekend in Palos Verdes…
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ekAWLb8tLC8tyKZNA

ScottyB
ScottyB
1 year ago

The other Land Cruiser, or for some of us, the only Land Cruiser.

Even though it happened nearly sixty years, I’m still sad Studebaker failed. Thanks for the reminder how much fun the early postwar Studebaker artwork was. Most of the ads featured cars in primary colors that just screamed.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

“America’s Strategic Carpet Reserves”

Also known as the big pile.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago

Decades of government collusion later, now known simply as Big Pile. They were pulling the strings so hard in the 1970s, they even got half of America to carpet their bathrooms.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 year ago

Later models packaged the blacklight gauges with a velvet picture of Elvis on the headliner.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

I have a pair of original advertisements for the 1947 Studebakers from 1946 editions of National Geographic magazines, and they’re some of my favorites in my old car ad collection. “First by far with a postwar car!” was their big tagline, which is kind of neat to see.

My favorite though is an earlier Studebaker ad from December 1945, which doesn’t even have any distinct cars in it, it’s just a painting of a Christmas tree with the silhouettes of cars around it, with the text of the ad just celebrating that the war is finally over, wishing happy holidays, and briefly mentioning that new cars will soon be available again. It’s barely even an ad, just saying “there will be cars” was enough.

There’s also a used car dealership in my area with a number of classic cars on the lot, and the one closest to the street is a 1947 Studebaker Landcrusier sedan with the suicide rear doors. It’s heavily patina’d and looks all-original, but it’s complete with all the trim in great condition and looks amazing. I always remember those ads when I see it. These are more special cars than they look, not because there’s anything mechanically special about them, but because their very existence at the time was worth celebrating. It was a car and that was a big deal.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

About 20 years ago I did a deep dive on Studebaker, after knowing virtually nothing about the brand. They were really one hell of a car company. It was a feature in Hemmings about a car from their very last days that sent me down that rabbit hole: an amazing one-of-none special-order 1964 Super Lark R3 with a dual-quad, Paxton-supercharged 304 V8 that surely would have been one of the two or three fastest production cars on earth at the time, if anyone had ever heard of it. 12 second quarter miles in bone stock tune, on bias ply tires, in 1964? Jesus.

https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/south-bend-stealth-1964-studebaker-super-lark-r3

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
1 year ago

told via ribbons
Advertisers should bring this back!

W124
W124
1 year ago

If there is an option with suicide doors, it’s automatically the best option hands down.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
1 year ago

Hill holder was a thing that long ago? I remember being a teenager with Kirstie Alley doing the voiceover about Subaru having a hill-holder system that was all new and fancy.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Chrysler had it in the late 1930s, one of the benefits of the Fluid Drive coupling (along with being able to creep forward in slow/heavy traffic)

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago

My 2020 Honda Fit has one. Neither the brochure nor the salesman mentioned it, and I discovered it on my own one day.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
1 year ago

You can wear your hat in a car shaped like your hat.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

There were some truly memorable Studebakers throughout their years of operation: this is not one of them.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Hard disagree. This car might not look special, but when it came out it was very special, because it existed at all. It was an car. At a time when people hadn’t had new cars in a long time, and some people before the war had been limping old cars along not realizing they wouldn’t be able to buy a new car when they’d planned to. By the time the war was over, people were thrilled at the prospect that new cars would be a thing at all again, and they could finally let go of old rustbucket jalopies that were showing their age. Most of the cars that came out after the war were just continuations of prewar designs, but then in walks Studebaker with something actually new. The newness alone made this thing exotic and exciting, it was a big deal at the time.

So yes, to the uninformed eye, this looks like any other normal car from the late 40s, nothing special. But it holds a special place in history, and if you know what makes it significant, it’s a very special and memorable car. There’s actually a used car dealership in my area that has an original unrestored survivor example of one, and I have to smile whenever I see it, because I know whoever the original owner was must’ve been very excited to own it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Austin Vail
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

You ain’t kidding. There is so much about life during and immediately after World War II that has been forgotten. One of my favorite Christmas songs had always been “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Then one Christmas I decided to look up the history and context of the song, and I was reminded that it was released for Christmas of 1943, right in the teeth of World War II, when Allied victory was far from certain. Suddenly I was struck by who the protagonist of the song really was: he was somebody’s son or grandson or husband or father or friend freezing to death in a muddy foxhole somewhere in devastated Europe, thousands of miles from home at Christmas, just as terrified and lonely as the people he’s singing to, trying to soothe them with promises of being home for Christmas, when they both know damn well that neither of them knows if they will ever see one another alive in this world again, or if there will even be a world left for them to meet in.

It’s not just a sentimental song about missing your loved ones during the holidays – it’s a song about holding tight to what is good in life while you are battling hell on earth, and unsure if you will prevail. That song is some deep, heavy shit. When they say context is everything, hoo boy, is this exactly what they mean.

So anyway, yeah, this brand new Studebaker would have been a joy to behold for the average American when it came out. Consider the context.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

Exactly. The 1947 Studebakers are symbols of “We made it.”

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

“The world is safe from tyranny, and we accidentally taught ourselves an awful lot about manufacturing in the struggle, so watch us build some shit. As it turns out, everything’s going to be just great.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Joe The Drummer
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

I dug into this once. While Toyota and Studebaker were selling Land Cruisers simultaneously, Toyota’s exports to the USA didn’t begin until after Studebaker quit using the name – 1958, IIRC.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago

Studebaker had such great model names…the President..the Dictator and the lesser known Benevolent Despot

CatMan
CatMan
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

“To us he was Goliath the Consensus Builder”

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Don’t forget the Psychopath Dictator performance option

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

My favorite is the Narcissistic Authoritarian.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Chronometric

In some markets it was sold as the Mostest Excellence

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

My great-grandpa could only afford the downscale model, the Tyrannical Department Head.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

I’d drive a Pugnatious Tycoon any day.

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