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201616 Jun



The time was early 1928; the great depression was still a year away and there was a sense of prosperity among the general public. Luxury cars were selling well and auto manufacturers around the world started selling more powerful and expensive cars.


One of these was Studebaker, which introduced the new President Series FA 8 in 1928, the first Studebaker 8 cylinder series. Some of the standard features in the car were silk curtains and assist cords, upholstered arm rests, engraved jeweller's finished hardware, moldings and door panels in two-tone American walnut or two-tone laquer, silver medallions on the door panels, an upholstered foot rest, a heavy ornamental robe rail and large pockets in all the four doors. Tyres were 31 x 6.2 inches.


Studebaker's entry into the straight eight segment was well planned but somewhat late, as there were numerous other manufacturers who had eights in production. However, Studebaker's close competitors, Chrysler and Buick, were even tardier and did not field eights until 1931. Packard, Duesenberg, Stearns, Sayers and Scoville, Dupont and Stutz had built eights for a number of years, but these cars were in the high price bracket and would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more than the FA President.




This 1928 Studebaker President 8 State Limousine FA that we are going to read about was custom-built and sent to India in 1928 for the purpose of ‘special display’ to promote the awareness of the high quality, 8 cylinder luxury cars manufactured by the Studebaker Corporation of America during the days of British rule in India.


It is interesting to note the nomenclature of the 1928 Studebaker President 8 State Limousine (FA). The word ‘President’ denotes the top of the line of the Studebaker car models. The numerical ‘8’ stands for eight cylinders, the word ‘State’ stands for cars that have two spare tyres on both sides, wire wheels and foldable luggage rack at the rear, while ‘Limousine’ stands for cars that have a glass partition dividing the driver's compartment and the passengers' cabin and finally ‘FA’ denotes the first eight cylinder president engine series that were manufactured by the American carmaker.




The coachwork plate number is 118 FAM. This signifies it being the 118th unit of car that was manufactured in the year 1928. As mentioned earlier, ‘FA’ is the series of engine and the letter ‘M’ denotes the limousine style of body.


Pallab Roy’s grandfather Raja Kamalaranjan Roy spotted the car in the showroom and fell in love with it. Since this car had come to India as a display model which was not meant for sale, hence a special permission was sought by the dealer from Studebaker Corporation and the car was finally sold to Raja Kamalaranjan Roy. The car has ever since remained in the family. The car was kept by Raja Kamalaranjan Roy in his palace at Cossimbazar and was used by him on special occasions.





The mint condition in which we find the car today is a result of four years of labour of love by Pallab Roy who has taken special care to meticulously restore this car referring to the descriptions and specifications mentioned in the original sales brochure and the owner's manual. Studebaker limousines with series FA are recognised as ‘a full classic’ by all antique car clubs in the USA. This model has many references in several write-ups by different persons. However, even after an extensive search Roy did not find any photographs of a second existing car. The only photograph that exists of the limousine is a hand-painted one. Hence, Roy has strong reasons to believe that this is perhaps the only surviving example in the world of the 1928 Studebaker President State Limousine - a marvellous example of American automobile creation.




Fact File:

• Present owner - Prosanta Kumar Roy

• Registration number - WGZ 82

• Purchased in 1928

• Price at the time of purchase - Rs 12,000 (in exchange of a family-owned Chevrolet)

• Production started in December 1927

• Production ceased in October 1928

• H. P. 100 @ 2600 rpm

• Engine displacement - 313 cubic inches

• No. of cylinders - straight 8

• Wheelbase – 131 inches

• Single carburetor

• Single butterfly

• Twin point distributor

• Broadcloth upholstery with mohair lining

• Sound proof glass partition between the front and rear seats

• One way intercom (passenger to driver)

• Cigar lighter and ashtray

• The car’s body has been built with 'dreadnot' steel which was used to build American warships


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