Sunday, October 29, 2006

James Bond and the Studillac

Found on the Net.

In the novel Fleming introduced us to one of my favourite, and certainly one of the least known, cars of the 1950's. On a drive to Saratoga, Bond gets his first look at the new car of his best friend, Felix Leiter. The car appears to be a black Studebaker convertible. When Felix talks up the car's performance Bond thinks he's spouting nonsense, until Felix stomps the fuel pedal and reveals to Bond the car's hidden abilities. Leiter's car is a special custom job, a Studebaker with a powerful Cadillac engine under the hood. Cadillacs in the 1950s were real performance cars. When the horsepower of the Caddy engine was put into the aerodynamic, light weight,Loewy designed Studabaker body it yielded a potent, high velocity, weapon! Special rear axle, brakes and transmission had to be added to handle the extra power. This car is not the product of Fleming's fertile imagination. Such a car was actually produced by a specialty shop in New York. It was dubbed with the singularly un-mellifluous sobriquet, "Studillac". But that aside, this car is a real honey! I know of no source today for the Studillac, but the Raymond Loewy designed Studebaker sports coupes of the mid 1950's are beautiful and special enough on their own to warrant admiration. Studebaker got their start way back in 1852 making Conestoga wagons. To celebrate their 100 year anniversary in 1952 the firm hired the famous French designer, Raymond Loewy to design their new line of cars for the 1953 model year. The result was what has been called one of "America's prettiest car of the 50s". They had a decidedly European look to them. I expect this is why Fleming chose the car for Felix, and why Fleming allowed Bond to admire it.

What Felix Leiter's Studillac might have looked liked. A custom Studebaker convertible body with a Caddy 331 engine.


At 11:56 AM, Blogger hudson hawk said...

The Studillac was a great car. Unlike The Saint's Hirondel it did exist. 2yrs ago I met a man in 11001 who's father worked at the plant. I came across your blog while doing some research on an historic topic.
By the way The Saint will be on TV next note on what kind of car he will drive more P1800's made.


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