The Studeblogger

Monday, September 22, 2008

A fruitful day at the Studebaker Archives.

I did a lot today in South Bend! Got up and went to SASCO, drove around the perimeter of the former Studebaker manufacturing facility (where they're currently tearing down the remains of South Bend Lathe, which occupied a huge portion of the former Stude plant), found the Studebaker Administration Building, went to the Studebaker National Museum, and finally to the Studebaker Archive next door.

I'd been told on the Forum that the archivist could look up the Sell Card for my car. Sell Cards were old IBM punch-cards that dealers filled out and mailed back to Corporate every time a new car was sold; they contained the Dealer name, salesman's name, trade-in, selling price, and... name and occupation of the buyer! I hoped that this would give me more insight on where my Lark came from.

I buzzed at the door of the Archive building and was met by the Archivist, Andy Beckman. I gave him the VIN number of the car, and he said "Oh... 1963 is the least complete of all the years." He disappeared and came back a short time later with the bad news: a block of cards for about 8 VIN numbers - with mine smack in the middle - was missing.

Andy apologized and I told him I'd hoped to come up with the buyer's name, having gotten the build sheet and found that the car was originally shipped to San Francisco.

"Well," he said, "I could look in the Drive-Away Shipper reports. We could try and find the dealer's name that way." That lifted my spirits! Andy disappeared again and came back presently with a wispy slip of carbonless paper.

"You have a Standard?" he asked. "Rose Mist with Chestnut interior, V-8, Flight-O-Matic and not much else?" I nodded and he showed me the slip: Barney had been a California car from the beginning, delivered and sold by Waters Studebaker, 1701 Van Ness Avenue, in San Francisco.

Thanks to Andy, I'm one step closer to finding out who had Barney when he was new. If you want to do this sort of research on your Studebaker, you don't have to do it in person - call the Archives and ask for help. The number is 574-235-9983.

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