Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Manual choke on an early Borg Warner auto transmission?

I’m writing a story about my favorite car when I was growing up: the 1950 Studebaker Sedan with the grill that made it look like an airplane. I know it was available with the new Borg Warner three speed automatic transmission. My question is whether such a car might also have had a manual choke along with the auto transmission? Any antique owner out there who can tell me? Thanks.

There should be a Studebaker club out there that can give you more information than you’ll ever need…including the answer to this.

Yes, 1950 Studebakers had a manual choke, but none of them had a Borg-Warner transmission.

Studebaker engineers did work with BW engineers on the development of that transmission, but it was definitely a Studebaker transmission, and not a BW transmission. In fact, one of the many management mistakes that Studebaker’s executives were guilty of was their failure to license their transmission to Ford Motor Company upon request.

Ford would have paid a few million $$ that would have come in very handy for Studebaker, but their executives somehow managed to make the wrong decision. If the transmission had been a Borg-Warner transmission, Ford would have simply gone to BW in an attempt to purchase a license to manufacture that trans, rather than soliciting Studebaker’s intransigent upper management.

Incidentally, here is a bit of trivia that you might want to use in your story.
The automatic transmission option cost $201, but it did not become available until the middle of the 1950 model year, so your fictional Stude could not be one made early in the model year if it is to be equipped with the new Studebaker automatic transmission.

Pretty sure it was a BW. Here’s a comment from a Studebaker owner:!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.f21c9fb%20borg#MSG1843

And here’s a BW history that notes that Studebaker used more of them than anyone else:

From The Studebaker Century, by Asa Hall & Richard Langworth:

“Nor can anyone seriously underrate the twin technological triumphs of both an automatic transmission and the OHV V-8. Compared to the giants, Studebaker was an insignificant company; yet it managed these complex developments on its own, while others settled for buying automatics from GM and postponing V-8s indefinitely–much to their later regret. Studebaker’s liaison with Borg-Warner on the automatic speaks volumes for the spirit of cooperation and liberality which ever characterized the Indiana company. It was much easier for GM to order a division to come up with Hydra-Matic.”

Most certainly a manual choke. The first automatic choke I remember we had was with the 57 Ford and it was troublesome.

Yep, looks like it was a cooperative development between Studebaker and Borg-Warner. BW continued selling them after Studebaker switched to the Ford transmission in about 1955. That’s probably why it’s referred to as a ‘Borg-Warner’ transmission.

I don’t believe that the 1950 Studeba,er, at least the Commander model that could be equpped with the automatic transmission, had a manual choke. The only post WW II Studebaker I remember having a manual choke was the pickup truck. I am not sure about the Champion.
Manual chokes began being replaced by automatic chokes before WW II. My dad had a1940 Chrysler for a year and it was an automatic choke. My 1947 Pontiac had a manual choke. Ford was the last U.S. manufacturer to retain the manual choke. I believe all Fords had a manual choke through 1955. The V-8 went to an automatic choke in 1956 or 1957, but the Ford 6 had a manual choke through 1964.

Well as usual I think @triedaq is correct on these vintage vehicles. My Motors book only goes back to 1952 but in there, the 6 cyl used the Carter carb and the V8 used the Stromberg carb. Both had automatic chokes. BW automatics too.

“My 1947 Pontiac had a manual choke”. I goofed. My 1947 Pontiac had an automatic choke.
Until the 1949 models appeard, Plymouth had a hand choke, but the rest of the Chrysler products had an automatic choke. Chevrolets had hand chokes on the manual transmission models until 1953, but the rest of thee post WW II GM cars had automatic chokes. However, I think that the Chevrolets equipped with the Powerglide automatic transmissions had automatic chokes. The stripped down 1957 and 1958 Studebakers had manual chokes, but the rest of the Studebakers had automatic chokes.
I really prefer the manual choke if a car has a carburetor. The 1961 Corvair I owned had dual carburetors and a manual choke. This was the only year Corvair used a manual choke.

Holy cow. I had a 61 Corvair with dual carbs and I can’t recall at all the manual choke. Must have had it though but sure can’t remember it. I know my 59 VW had a manual choke and my 59 Pontiac had an automatic that was a POS.

@Bing–The knob was on the bottom of the dashboard of the 1961 Corvair. It looked like an after-thought, but it was standard equipment. The choke cable was broken on the one I purchased and the only place the choke cable was available was the dealer.
The 1960 Corvair had a single carburetor, but the 1961 Corvair had the dual carburetor set-up. I bought the car really cheap from the Rambler dealer. His mechanics didn’t want to work on the Corvair. The engine had a miss and both the dealer and I thought it needed a valve job. After i purchased the car, and owned it for a week, I got caught in a real downpour. The engine was running so poorly that I didn’t think we would make it home. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering why rain would affect the valves and realized the Corvair really had an ignition problem. A new distributor cap, rotor and plug wires made the engine run perfectly.

Sounds vaugely familiar but still can’t recall it. Paid $150 for mine in '72. Rescued it out of a barn yard. Little clean up and body work and tune up and ran pretty good. Fun car and I didn’t have to take the bike to work anymore.