1937-1939 Studebaker Coupe-Express

1937, 1938, 1939 Studebaker Coupe-Express Sales

Sales of the 1938 Coupe-Express were very disappointing after such a promising introductory year in 1937. A combination of factors, including the poor economic climate in 1938, led to a mere 1000 K-5 vehicles being assembled. Many were still in branch stock into 1939 and sold to dealers at special prices just to clear them out.

The Studebaker Sales Department pointed out that the base price of a similarly equipped truck dropped from $818 in 1938 to $733 in 1939. Safety glass was made standard equipment, as was the front bumper. A wide variety of accessories were also available, though most were the same as in 1938.

1939 Studebaker Coupe-Express
The 1939 Studebaker Coupe-Express suffered
disappointing sales figures.

A copy of the February 17, 1939, issue of The Studebaker Truck Division Newsletter called the Coupe-Express "the undefeated, untied, unscored upon, undisputed, all-time Champion of the Commercial Car League -- the only real two-purpose vehicle on the market."

Had Studebaker used this hyperbole more frequently in its general advertising, sales might have been more respectable, but the sad fact is they did not. Only 1200 L-5s found buyers in 1939, and that was about one truck for every two dealers.

There may have been another reason for the relatively poor showing. Many of Studebaker's dealers did not have a truck franchise and had little interest in, and knowledge of, the truck market. Therefore, most of these dealers were reluctant to order a unit for display. It should be remembered the Coupe-Express was Studebaker's first true pickup and its price was substantially higher than the offerings of the Big Three.

There can be little question that the Coupe-Express was a more-attractive, better-built, and certainly more-luxurious 1/2-ton pickup than anything else on the market. But, in the late 1930s, light-truck buyers were generally disinclined to be shopping for a luxury model. As had happened so many times in its long history, Studebaker built the right vehicle, but at the wrong time.

A little more than a year after the last L-5 moved off the assembly line, Studebaker introduced an all-new 1/2-ton pickup, which it called the M-5 Coupe-Express. It was styled along more conventional lines and, with an active and aggressive sales promotion campaign, it put Studebaker into the light-truck field to stay.

Move to the next section for selected specifications for the 1937, 1938, and 1939 Studebaker Coupe-Express.

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