Studebaker Scotsman Pickup

Since when could a company get away with naming a product after a racial group? It must be a coincidence that Studebaker named this particular trim level after people who, true or not, are often considered quite thrifty. A coincidence…


Anyway, throughout their lineup, Studebaker offered the Scotsman trim level, basic to a fault and devoid of all but the most simple of creature comforts: an engine for going, seats for sitting on, and a watertight cabin. 

To get the title of lowest priced car, some of the Scotsman's "features" sound downright prehistoric: standard vacuum-operated windshield wipers (electric wipers were optional), standard painted grille and bumpers, and standard mechanical choke. Buyers had to pay extra for armrests and a passenger sun visor. A radio wasn't available, nor was interior carpet, cloth seats, or opening rear windows.

After claiming the title of America's lowest priced car, they set their sights on the title of the lowest-priced truck.

Now that I read stories on the latest crop of midsize pickup trucks, a growing number of commenters seem to want to revert to a time where trucks were more simple than the bales of hay they hauled. It's something I've often thought about: just how desirable would a modern stripped-to-the-extreme truck be? 

Even the base, work truck models of the 1/2 ton trucks offered here in North America would seem like amenity laden limousines compared to the Studebaker Scotsman Pickup. For buyers in 1958 and '59, that meant a choice of a 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck that was easily recognizable thanks to its simple grille styling, reverted to from 1949-1953 models. There were simple decals, no chrome, and the rest of the standard features sound more like punishment: one tail lamp, one driver's sun visor, and one windshield wiper. Its second year saw its simple plaid decals replaced with chrome badges, and an option package to update its old school grille was offered. 

Buyers also had three engine choices: a small six-cylinder engine, a 259 V8, or a Commander six-cylinder. In the car range, the small six could return as little as 7.8 L/100 km (30 US mpg), from just 100 horsepower. For those who drive in tough terrain, a limited-slip differential was optional.

For this truck, you could leave the dealer without spending much more than $1,500—about $12,000 today. I have a feeling that a brand-new $12,000 pickup would sell like hotcakes, though of course it'd need two tail lamps, two sun visors, two windshield wipers…and Bluetooth.

Or is that already too decadent?