1939 Studebaker K15M Truck

Designed and built for hard work and reliable, economical service, Studebaker’s commercial vehicles of the late 1930s were quite likely the most attractively styled vehicles of their kind, thanks to famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Hired as the head of Studebaker’s design department in 1936, Loewy’s stylistic influence was immediately felt, endowing the venerable company’s car and truck lines with beautifully streamlined, Art Deco-influenced designs rivalled by few other manufacturers – on either side of the Atlantic. Little changed in visual terms from 1937 through 1939, Studebaker’s truck lines included several highly specialized COE (Cab-Over Engine) configurations, allowing excellent forward visibility for drivers in tight urban environments with maximum cargo capacity, while offering very attractive Loewy styling in the bargain. In fact, styling of these Studebaker trucks was matched only by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky’s contemporary COE designs for the White Motor Co.

Featured in Hemmings Motor News and Auto Restorer magazines, this absolutely delightful 1939 Studebaker K15M Cabover delivery truck carries a 1 ½-ton cargo capacity and according to documents on file, it was used for deliveries by the Coca-Cola bottler in upstate New York. It was registered until 1951 and while intervening history remains unknown, it was owned during the 1990s by noted Studebaker enthusiast and restorer Roy Snider of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, who accumulated replacement parts and initiated a restoration, including a rebuilt engine, rolling chassis, and replacement of the structural wood for the truck’s cab and doors. Seeking a cabover prewar Studebaker truck, machinist/sprint-car racer Jerry Kurtz of Dover, Pennsylvania, purchased the project from Snider and set to work with an exacting, total restoration to exceptional standards of authenticity, precision and workmanship.

Since no blueprints nor technical drawings of period cargo compartments for these trucks remained, Mr. Kurtz conducted relentless research using period photographs to design and construct an authentic bottler’s delivery body for the rear of the truck. Compounding the dilemma, prewar truck-body production was highly localized, non-standardized, and tailored to highly individualized special orders and requirements, with often-miniscule job lots the order of the day. Nonetheless, Mr. Kurtz devised and built an appropriate and fully functional cargo box for the Studebaker. Complementing the truck’s cab very nicely and built with a sound structure to accommodate heavy loads as originally required, it also features internal product shelves, large sliding doors at each side and various additional compartments with drop-down and side-opening doors. Evocatively detailed in a classic yellow/black paint scheme plus lovingly recreated Coca-Cola company logos and signage, faithfully recreated aluminum cargo box features traditional wooden beverage cases, and even a highly collectible vintage Coca-Cola cooler.

Mechanically, the robust 138-ihnch wheelbase Studebaker K15 chassis frame cradles the truck’s later-model 245 cubic-inch Studebaker L-head inline six-cylinder engine, which had already been rebuilt by Mr. Snider before Mr. Kurtz purchased the project. Developing 102 factory-rated horsepower and 205 foot-pounds of torque with 7:1 compression and a Carter single-barrel carburetor, the engine is mated to a 4-speed manual transmission and added overdrive unit. Correct hub-pilot truck wheels, painted red with chrome hub caps, include duals at the rear, and 4-wheel drum brakes provide stopping power.

Predictably, the reborn K15 attracted a great deal of attention following completion, with the truck successfully working its way through AACA judged events. Accolades include achievement of the AACA Senior National First Prize (2004) and Grand National First Prize (2007). Feature articles on the K15 in Auto Restorer (December 2005) and Hemmings Motor News (January 2007) document for posterity the obsessive level of detail applied to the restoration by Mr. Kurtz. This striking Studebaker will undoubtedly appeal to wide variety of enthusiasts, commercial vehicle collectors, and Coca-Cola memorabilia collectors alike.


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Stock number 7140

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