Studebaker built 14 special President Hardtop coupes for the auto show circuit to promote the new models for 1955. They were given unique tri-tone paint jobs, leather seat upholstery, and full instrumentation. A reinforced plastic dash with an engine-turned metal face housed an 8,000 RPM tachometer and a 160 mph speedometer. They had fog light bumperettes, a special hood ornament, back-up lights, dual exhausts, and a wide chrome strip over the rear of the roof. If the response was favorable, Studebaker announced it would produce the new coupe. The new model was introduced in January of 1955 and given the name President Speedster, two names from the company’s past. The Speedster name had last been used by Studebaker in the 1920s.
The President nameplate returned to the Studebaker line in 1955, having been absent since 1942. Its first use was in mid-1926 and represented the company’s top-of-the-line model. When it returned in 1955, it was once again represented the premium-trimmed models. The styling was similar to the 1955 Champion and commanders, and trim levels included the Deluxe and State. Body styles included a sedan, coupe, hardtop, and speedster Hardtop. Prices began at $2,310 for the Deluxe sedan and rose to $2,460 for the State Hardtop. Standard equipment included power steering and brakes, the choice of an automatic or manual transmission with overdrive, a clock, whitewall tires, directional signals, an eight-tube radio, triple horns, tailpipe extensions, and dual outside mirrors.
The styling was an evolution of the original Starliner Coupe created by Bob Bourke and Raymond Loewy of 1953. State and Speedster body styles had the ‘butter knife’ side trim.
The Studebaker President, Champions, and Commanders all shared the same instrument panel, while the Speedster had its own unique engined turned panel. The overhead-valve, 259.2 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine initially delivered 175 horsepower, later tuned to produce 185 horsepower. It had solid valve lifters, a Carter four-barrel carburetor, and five main bearings.
Period advertisements promoted the President as being Styled and built by Studebaker-Packard Corporation, the world’s largest producer of sports cars. The State Sedan was the most popular body style with 14,634 examples sold. 1,021 Deluxe sedans found willing buyers, and 3,327 coupes found new homes. 3,468 examples were hardtop coupes. Just 2,215 of the Speedsters were built and the body style was discontinued after 1955.