In addition to running the Indianapolis 500 race which is held yearly on Memorial Day weekend, in 1953 the AAA, the sanctioning body of the National Championship Trail Races added a second race date to the calendar in Indy, the Hoosier “100.” This race was held in mid-September on the one-mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, also in Indianapolis.
Previously, Studebaker constructed a running prototype 1953 Commander convertible which never made it into production. Indianapolis Studebaker dealer Charlie Stuart also modified one of his own Commander’s into an open car without a top that was similar the Automaker’s test mule for the “100.”
Charlie Stuart’s son Chuck Stuart sent in these photos of the Pace Car and wrote: “Charlie Stuart was my father and he told me (I was 10 at the time) he didn’t realize how much the car would change when he cut the top off the car. That’s why they had to reinforce the frame, also there wasn’t a top for it.”
You can learn all the details of this one-off custom and view a third image of the car in a November 1953 “Popular Science” article “Altered Studebaker Coupe Becomes Fast Sports Car.” Complete with a “hopped-up” engine the car was capable of traveling 120 m.p.h.