Painted Chrome: 1942 Studebaker Champion Series 90 Club “Blackout” Sedan

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It’s not the kind of painted on airbrushed faux chrome that became a bit of a fad for customizers who didn’t want to track down rare pieces of trim. This 1942  Studebaker has real metal trim, but all the “brightwork” was painted, not chrome plated. It was built on Jan. 29, 1942, just two days before Studebaker completely suspended civilian automobile production so it could concentrate on the war effort. On Jan. 1st, a little more than three weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government declared metals like aluminum and chromium strategic commodities and prohibited their civilian use. The War Production Board even said that existing stocks of chrome plated trim would have to be painted over, so no one car maker had an advantage. As a result, the few Studebakers that were made in early 1942 are of the “blackout” variety. If you note, though, the color of the trim on this “Series 90” Club Sedan (so named because 1942 was Studebaker’s 90th anniversary, having started as a horse drawn wagon maker) is not black but rather a nice warm gray. Rather than just use black, Studebaker stylists picked out dark colors that complimented the cars’ exterior paint. Some of the trim, like the strip that runs from the front of the car to the back, is even painted two tone, with white pinstripes. The Champion badge on the fender is also painted white. The rather simple hood ornament has a stylized art deco S for Studebaker, painted in a gold color.

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