A Studebaker’s Dozen (Grin & bear it)
>Detroit MI — Whoa Nelly, bring that Studebaker to a halt and circle the wagons. Were we surprised when we stumbled upon this super-exotic at the recent North American big show. This isn’t your father’s Studebaker! One of the best kept secrets in the automobile business is that things are once again alive and cookin’ in South Bend, as evidenced by this new offering from Studebaker, Ltd. OK, well not the original company, but close enough. At least the moniker and essence of the classic Loewy (-attributed) design is reincarnated and, according to a representative manning the display, some vehicle assembly is still being carried out in a portion of the old (albeit refurbished) South Bend factory.
Dubbed the Starliner V-X (read: V-10), this mid-engined stunner has actually been in the works for over ten years. In a highly clandestine operation (originally called project 002 — introduction was meant to coincide with Studebaker’s 150th anniversary in 2002), Robbin Bourke & Associates carried out all the styling and engineering for the spectacular statement. Preliminaries were completed well ahead of schedule and only complications in the initial production set-up caused a delay. According to sources, funding was never the issue – this amply supplied by the Koto-Andrews Group; and, judging by the level of on-site personnel confidence, this is an effort to be reckoned with for the long haul.
Running a newly developed 8.0 liter PowerHawk V-10 mounted amidships, the two place street rocket is rated at 1002 hp. At a svelte 2905 lbs., that’s 2.9 pounds per screaming horse. Speeds in excess of 255 mph are projected, thanks in part to a new Paxton supercharger design (exclusive to the V-X), which puts the carbon-fiber, aluminum alloy and titanium bullet up there beyond the rarefied air of the Ferrari Enzo, million-dollar Bugatti Veyron and McLaren F1.
As of the show date, thirteen units had already been completed and are awaiting delivery… only this initial unveiling precluded that detail. Sales (the Brokers frown at this term, preferring “fiduciary exchange”) for the first 13 were not open to the buying public and carefully scrutinized recipients so far have been selected by an unrevealed qualification process. The model on display was destined for a buyer (they’re called “kinetic aficionados”) in California and one can only imagine his great anticipation in awaiting this completed beauty. Though on public exhibition, we noticed only two people who were asked to step behind the ropes to speak to a broker during our three days at the show. Consequently, we have no idea of what to report in terms of a price range, only that personnel managing the display never approached us as we carefully perused and documented features of the car. Though helpful and informative whenever we initiated conversation; the one time we started a sentence with “How much does” — we were politely interrupted and told, “If one must ask, the Mercedes arcade is located two displays down”.