Memory Lane: Studebaker’s Popular 1949 Pickup Truck
Researching a novel set in the 1950s–during my childhood–brought me many memories as I looked at the political issues, the fads and the products. Among these were the cars and trucks people drove. If the word “badass” had been around in those days, I would have said that I preferred the badass look of the late 1940s models over the sleek early-1950s models–especially when the cars came out with fins.
In Junior high and high school, a group of us rode out to a farm every Saturday morning in a hulking old 1940s black car that almost had as much room in it as a Checker Marathon. I know longer remember what it was. But it ran fine and if I could have found one, I would have preferred it over the family’s 1953 Chevy. When that Chevy broke down, the dealer’s loners–which my parents despised–were clunky 1948 and 1949 cars that, frankly, looked like they had been shot up in a war movie.
So, I had fun with the memories of all this when I thought about the vehicles I wanted to use in Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. I decided that Lane Walker, owner of the local general store needed a cool looking 1949 Studebaker truck because the war had postponed his buying new wheels.
Automakers switched to production for World War II between 1942 and 1945, so when the war ended, civilians were ready for something classy. They got new designs, paint schemes and engines, and among these was Studebaker’s popular series of 2R trucks that had a very streamlined look when compared with earlier models. While the 1949-1953 2R had a lot in common under the body with the older model M, it had a very modern look with its double-walled sides and the absence of running boards. The 2R has been called Studebaker’s most successful truck, increasing the company’s share of the truck market. I selected Clover Green for its color.
Every once in a while, I see a 1940s car or truck on the road. They’re almost like living, breathing time machines.
Malcolm R. Campbell’s new 1950s novel is called “Eulalie and Washerwoman.” It’s the story of a conjure woman who uses folk magic to fight a corrupt businessman in her small Florida Panhandle town.