In preparing Studebaker for the 1963 model year, President Sherwood Egbert had a daunting task before him: How to inject new life and performance into a rapidly aging product line, and with very little budget to do it. Egbert reached for a method that, as as a former vice president of McCulloch Corporation, he knew well: supercharging. McCulloch had spun off its supercharger business in 1958 to the Granatelli brothers, and in early 1962 the company, now known as Paxton Products, was acquired by the Studebaker Corporation. Meanwhile, Studebaker had some experience with blowers as well, on the McCulloch-equipped 1957-58 Golden Hawks. It was a natural fit all around.
The supercharger adopted by Studebaker for ’63 was the Paxton SN60, a simplified, fixed-ratio version of the original McCulloch VS57 blower, here tuned to feed up to six pounds of boost into a sealed Carter AFB carb. When bolted to the aged but willing 289 CID Studebaker V8, the R2 Super Jet Thrust package, as it was called, was rated at 289 horsepower, nearly 50 hp more than the normally-aspirated R1 version. (There were also R3, R4, and R5 engines, and adventures at Bonneville, but that’s another story.)
Available across the Studebaker model line—Lark, Cruiser, Gran Turismo Hawk, and the stunning new Avanti—the R2 blower setup provided satisfying midrange punch and a considerable jump in top speed, to 132 mph in the Lark and 140 mph in the Hawk. There’s bragging aplenty in the original Studebaker commercial below.