After a number of unexplained events and attacks at Marlinspike Professor Calculus went for a walk and did not come back. Tintin and Captain Haddock chanced upon his laboratory where he was working on a secret weapon which could destroy structures by using sound waves. They also came across a mysterious fellow in the laboratory who escaped after hitting Captain Haddock. While escaping, he dropped a cigarette packet which gave a clue to Tintin and they headed to Geneva, Switzerland. At the airport, the first car shown is a Studebaker Champion.
The Champion was manufactured by Indiana based American manufacturer Studebaker. It was manufactured from 1939 to 1958 over five generations. For the first three generations from 1939 to 1952 it was a full size car. Thereafter it was marketed as a mid-size car. These cars were available as:-
- 2-door sedan.
- 4-door sedan.
- 2-door coupe.
- 4-door station wagon.
- 2-door station wagon.
- 2-door convertible.
The guiding principle in the conception and execution of Champion’s design right from generation one was – “weight is the enemy”. It was one of the lightest cars of its era for its size. It followed the ponton design philosophy and won mileage challenges when it was launched.The model was popular right from generation one because it was light, powerful, reliable, stylish and cheap.
Due to its popularity, the first model introduced, and only model produced by Studebaker after World War II was the Champion. Generation 3 was the first all new car to be introduced in the USA after World War. It underwent radical changes in body shape and did not share any looks with the previous generation cars.
The car shown in Tintin book “The Calculus Affair” was the fourth generation car. The 1953 model shown in the book was powered by a 2,780 cc (169.6 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated inline six cylinder L-head petrol engine. These engines produced 85 BHP at 4,000 rpm and 187 N-m (138ft-lb) of torque at 2,400 rpm. This power and torque was transmitted to the rear wheels through a 3-speed gearbox and single plate dry clutch using a hotchkiss drive.
Wheels were located on semi-floating type axles suspended at the front using independent coil springs and at the rear using longitudinal leaf springs. The wheels once set in motion by the engine could be stopped or slowed down using 229 mm (9″) drum brakes on all four wheels.
Though classified as mid-size cars, they were big cars, 5,403mm (198 9/16 “) long, 1,765 mm (69.5″) wide and 1,537 mm (60.5”) tall. Notwithstanding – as weight was the enemy – this large car weighed in at just 1,204 Kg (2655 lb).
Like most cars of the era, the construction was body on frame. The only difference being that the body was bolted and not welded on frame. In keeping with the Champion’s simple construction, Studebaker did not offer bucket seats, instead only a three-passenger-wide bench seat was offered. The company also did not offer air conditioning but they did offer at least two radio options. The smaller unit had seven tubes, while the more powerful unit had nine tubes. This was a world before transistors were invented, these tubes are vacuum tubes.
Studebaker introduced the fifth generation car, the Champion Scotsman in 1957 and production ceased in 1958.