Often described as America's most beautiful production car, the 1953 Studebaker Starliner used European style and purity of form to knock the socks off its boxy Detroit competitors. It proved to the world that when its designers were given a chance the USA could build production cars that were just as handsome as the custom jobs coming from Italy's design studios.
The Starliner wasa natural follow-up to the firm's radical 1947 "bullet nose" models. With Studebaker established as a design leader, company president Paul Hoffman commissioned the Loewy organisation RLA to design a new car for the "younger segment of automobile users." Given carte blanche, Loewy and his team created a masterpiece in the European sports coupe mode. Loewy is often given the credit and was undoubtedly team leader though the studio's design chief Robert E. Bourke actually designed the car. Coupes and sedans were both part of the original plan, with the latter expected to outsell the coupes by a ratio of four-to-one. In fact the sleek coupes did just the opposite. Pillarless hardtop coupes were called Starliners, pillared coupes were known as Starlights.
Longer, lower, and wider than other cars of the period, it featured a sloping hood with a slim, two-piece grille and a concealed radiator. No CD measurements are available but the shape was aerodynamically clean when compared to its boxy competitors. Sedans rode on a 116-inch (2946 mm) wheelbase whereas the coupes came on a longer 120-inch (3048 mm) wheelbase. Engine offerings included an 85 hp six and a 120 hp V-8.
These coupes would evolve into the 1955 Speedster and finally into the 1956-1964 Hawk line.
Sources: vintagecars.about.com, storm.tocmp.com