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In 1916, a very special car was turning heads: a Studebaker gold chassis. The car was constructed with more than 250 ounces of pure gold. It was built at a cost of more than $25,000 dollars. The car proved a sensation at the New York automobile show in January of 1916.

News of the car stretched across the countryside. The Arizona Republican reported, "Men who have attended every automobile show since the first was held say they were never treated to as big a surprise as this Studebaker chassis (chass-ee), finished from stem to stern in purest gold. It is the most expensive chassis ever built, and yet it is standard in every detail of construction, with the exception of its brilliant gold finish."

The car was under guard, "chiefly to keep admirers and curiosity seekers from clipping off pieces of the gold for souvenirs." The Bismarck Tribune reported that the car was heavily insured, and was sent city to city by express, "never being entrusted to a freight car," and that it was "the most expensive express 'package' ever listed."

There was some excitement over the news that the car would be on display in auto shows around the country, and on this date, citizens of Ward County were feeling that excitement as they learned that the car would be exhibited at the Minot Auto Show in March. The Ward County Independent reported that the Dodge Brothers of Detroit would be showing the car "as a mark of special favor to the Northwest Motor Company, their distributors throughout this territory."

The gold chassis Studebaker of 1916 was one of the most expensive cars in the history of automobile shows up to that point – but it would not hold the record long. The next year, in 1917, a new remix of the car was made and exhibited – this time, finished in more than 400 ounces of 24-carat gold and white enamel.

These gold cars were made to draw attention to the detail and lines; as one representative informed a captive audience, “This gold car is a regular Studebaker…in evening clothes.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


Arizona Republican, January 16, 1916, p10; February 25, 1917, p6

Chicago Eagle, January 20, 1917, p4

The Ward County Independent, February 24, 1916; March 2, 1916, p1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, January 3, 1916, p9