FROM THE MISSOULA AUTO MUSEUM COLLECTION: Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale WITHOUT RESERVE and SOLD to the highest bidder January 19th - 22nd, 2017 at Russo and Steele's 17th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Please contact us for more information. Studebaker was one of only a handful of smaller independent American automakers to survive the challenges of both the Great Depression and World War II. In fact, Studebaker shocked the entire automotive industry by being the first American manufacturer to offer an all-new post-war automobile in September 1946. While Studebaker advertisements proclaimed it was "First by far with a postwar car," the Big Three, by comparison, only offered somewhat freshened versions of their prewar models. Based on Robert Bourke's sketches dating back to 1940 and the touch of Virgil Exner, the new Studebakers featured fresh and totally modern "envelope" styling. While some observers scoffed at the new Studebaker design, the public eagerly accepted the new model line, helping the company break sales and production milestones and posting record profits in the process. While Exner departed Studebaker after the launch of the 1947-49 Studebakers, Bourke was encouraged by design legend Raymond Loewy to push the styling envelope even further with the now infamous, aircraft-inspired "bullet nose" front end and streamlined "Vista Dome" rear treatment for 1950, which continued relatively unchanged into the 1951 model year. Interestingly, while the Studebaker "bullet nose" design theme was concurrently incorporated into the designs of the 1949 Ford line and the 1948 Tucker, Studebaker is most commonly identified with this feature. Three model lines were available for 1950, with the Champion riding a 113-inch wheelbase, the Commander on a 120-inch wheelbase chassis, and as expected with its name, the Land Cruiser was the biggest Studebaker with a 124-inch wheelbase length. Four-door sedans included rear-hinged "suicide" rear doors. For 1951, styling was further refined with a flush-mounted grille and model lines were streamlined with the Commander and Champion sharing a 115-inch wheelbase and the Land Cruiser scaled down slightly on a 119-inch wheelbase. The 1951 Studebaker models also marked the debut of a new 120-horsepower, 233 cubic-inch V-8 engine that trumped Ford's antiquated Flathead and predated the Chevrolet and Plymouth V-8s that would only come several years later for 1955. The 1951 model year also marked the end of Studebaker's "bullet nose" body design. This highly collectible and enjoyable 1951 Commander is a top-of-the-line convertible model. Very well equipped, it includes a three-speed manual transmission, optional overdrive for cruising ease, power-operated convertible top, fender skirts, chrome hubcaps, and whitewall tires. The Commander is a nicely restored example that was completed within the past year. It represents the top-of-the-line Studebaker available for 1951 and is quite rare today as one of just 3,590 examples produced.