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1937 Studebaker Dictator

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Hey everyone,

My parents came into possession of a 1937 Studebaker Dictator 2 Door before I was born, and for many years its sat in our garage. My mother has been trying to research it because of its historical value. These are the details that were determined when it was appraised in 2005:

Standard 3 Speed Transmission

6 Cylinder Engine

Ext. Color- Black

Int. Color- Tan

Box Heater in Passenger Compartment

From what my mother has been researching online, she believes it to be a 2 Door Cruising Sedan instead of the traditional coupe because the section of the rear end where the roof comes down with the back window is more boxy than the coupe arc (as shown in the photo). And we don't believe that it had either the rear mount or side mount for the spare tire. We found it in the trunk wrapped in its original brown paper wrapping.

1. I'd like to know how or where I can find out how many were made of this model with the custom box heater (The appraiser said it was custom, but I don't know if they were standard?) and things of the like.. We do have the VIN number if that would be needed, but neither of us have any idea where to go. We do know that there were approximately 89,000 Dictators made, but how many were cruising sedans (if that is what this is)?

2. I'd also like to know a ball park guess about what it would be worth either for parts or restoration. The appraisal in 2005 put it at about five thousand dollars, but that was a while ago. Both my mother and I do not want it to be turned into a street rod because it's a part of history and, judging by what my mother read, there are fewer and fewer pre-war cars in existence.

3. I'd also like to know if there is someone who can tell me which version of the Dictator it is for sure? I've attached photos...

Any information would be most helpful. Thank you for reading.









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For more accurate info, you should contact the Studebaker Drivers Club and the Antique Studebaker Club. You can Google them to get the proper website. It looks like you have a very good Studebaker. It looks to be in great shape.

Best of luck.


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Thank you all for your replies!

I tried making an account on the Studebaker forum to ask for information like this, but I'm still waiting for the administrator to acknowledge/okay my account (so I can post a thread). As far as price, we were thinking five to ten thousand dollars, as well, although both my mother and I would love to keep it and restore one day if we won the lottery. haha But if it will be sold, we want a good price for it.

Also, to Mr. Callin, that would sound about right. The only real reason my mother thought that it was a sedan was because it has the back seat, and she had also come across at one time a postcard/advertisement thing that looked something like this:


If the nose was a little shorter and the model does not include a mounted spare on the other side of the car, it'd pretty much be ours in blue (and obviously better shape). But a five passenger coupe sounds like it could be right. I honestly have no idea.

Thank you, everyone, for all your help!

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In 1937 car heaters were something new. As you point out, they were a box installed under the dashboard, not a built in heater.

These box heaters were an accessory installed by the dealer at extra cost. They could also be installed by your local garage.

Look carefully at the heater, if it is a ``Studebaker` brand it was a dealer accessory, if it is some other brand like `Hot Shot`or `South Wind`it is an aftermarket accessory.

The heater is a nice extra to have, but does not add a lot to the value of the car. What really makes it valuable is originality, condition, and low miles. Your car appears to be in fairly good condition for its age and should bring a good price. Do you have the missing parts like door panel, etc.

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Providing the engine is complete, and either runs or turns over, [not rusted stuck], then this car should be put back on the road as a preservation car. I'd clean the exterior and clear coat the flaking paint and bare steel to stop further rust.

As Rusty asked: Do you have the interior door panel? If so, the rest of the interior looks pretty good.

The costs to bring it back to dealer-showroom condition far exceed the retail value of the car. And anybody can have a car restored. But to find and have a car that is nearly 100% intact and original is not something someone can just 'buy'.

I'd keep the car, get it running, get the drivetrain and brakes reliable and use the car and have fun with it.


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What is your ultimate goal? Did your parents acquire this because they were antique car enthusiasts, or because it was willed or given to them (possibly it's a family heirloom)? If you really have little interest in driving or restoring it, maybe you should sell it, but it's not clear that you want to do that.

Perhaps if you could explain your long-range desires we could offer you some concrete advice. If yo want to keep it but don't have the money to restore it, you could get it running and have some fun driving it to car shows. But if it's merely taking up garage space, why not sell it to someone who would like it, and get some money (and garage space!) out of the deal? As things are right now, it just sort of sits there and it seems like you just don't know what to do with it!

Joining an on-line forum is a good way to learn more about the car or need advice in selling it; join one of the Studebaker clubs if you're really intent on keeping it, because there is a lot of information to be found in a "marque" club like that.

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I agree with GLong. We have come a long way from the days when the prevailing attitude was that everything had to be prefect to be appreciated. Through the 80's and into the early 90's many people restored cars that didn't need to be restored, nor from an historical standpoint, probably should have been restored. Today I think that true car people truly cherish survivors, like your car seems to be. Your car is relatively rare because it is a two door sedan, which actually makes it a street rodder's delight. The front end look of the 37 is especially appealing, and has the look that many street rodders are searching for. I own two 1937 Presidents, 4dr sedan and a business coupe and I love the look and their road-ability with their overdrive transmissions. The car will be an easy sell, and should fetch a good price, if you do choose to sell it, but be careful how, and to whom you market it unless you don't care if is turned into someone's custom.

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