The Studeblogger

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Scotsman Rides Again.

I was browsing Paul Niedermeyer's Curbside Classic site when I found a very well-written article on the Studebaker Scotsman, the low-priced base-price stripper that S-P fielded in 1957-1958 to try to gain a foothold with fleet sales and accounting firms. The Scotsman was the direct ancestor of my Standard, which was a return to familiar territory for the Corporation - take a regular offering and de-content it to meet a price point.

The Scotsman was beautiful in its own way - a big car devoid of chrome, ornamentation or fancy paint jobs in a go-go Atomo-Powered era that was all about glitz and flamboyance. Without the distractions, the smoothness and beauty of the car's lines were easily apparent. And the ploy worked, as Jeff Nelson describes in his article - enough Scotsman cars and trucks were sold to enable the Corporation to field the Lark for 1959, an even bigger success that would give the company another half-decade of life.

Read the article here.


Friday, September 07, 2012

Fiberglas Hawk Panels!

We've all run across 'em - a car so beat, so decomposed, that even the thought of attempting metalwork on it gives you the cold sweats and causes your wallet to ball up in a paroxysm of self-preservation. But still, you want the car... you have a vision.

For those of you with a Studebaker Hawk in that viewport, there's some good news: you may find steel body panels scarce, especially for the later, lower-production GT models, but there's a company out there producing Fiberglas bolt-on fenders, doors and trunk lids for these rara avii. Meet Class Glass Performance, of Cumberland, Maryland.

These guys have been around since 1990, making Fiberglas parts for street and track racers. The Hawk's slippery profile has long been a favorite of drag racers, so 'glass body parts are a natural. They make everything from complete body tubs (shown above) to individual doors, trunk lids and front clips for '53-62 Studebaker C/K bodies. So when you find a car that looks like this: can start thinking about bolt-on replacements instead of getting out the torch and spoon.They also make sweet fender replacements for Studebaker M- and R-series trucks!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Studebaker Ad of the Week, #5: Lark takes flight!

A great example of Studebaker's early 60s' marketing. Here's a December, 1959 ad from Ebony magazine, showing people of color in an upscale setting, enjoying the beauty and power of their new Lark. I love the little touches, like the Lark logos as paragraph markers in the copy block, and the subtle lighting on the plane.

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Happy Anniversary... to me!

I was just looking over my collection of Turning Wheels (the official monthly magazine of the Studebaker Drivers Club) and realized that it's been six years since I embarked on this crazy Studebaker adventure. It was August of 2006 when I purchased my 1963 Lark, Barney, drove him home, and signed up for the SDC. My first Turning Wheels issue was the August, 2006 edition.

Barney, as he looked in the driveway of the previous owner's home

Barney had lived a rough life, it turned out. He had a knock when I bought him; we knew it was the transmission flex plate that had cracked (I'd taken my friend John Dick, the gearhead, on the initial visit and diagnosed the knock - it went away under load, which ruled out rod bearings). What we didn't know was that the engiine's crankshaft thrust bearings were shot. Upon bringing Barney home, I took him to Brian Wilson, a neighbor who was a former transmission shop owner, who put him up on his lift (yes, a single-post lift in his home garage... so jealous) and showed me the quarter-inch endplay in the crank. Sure enough, when I drained the oil prior to pulling the engine, it was sparkly from all the ground-up brass in suspension.

There were other things. The transmission pan was caved in -- the 17-year-old girl who'd driven Barney previously had off-roaded him, embedding field grass in the frame and crushing the transmission's transfer tube, which burned up the rear pump. A motor mount was collapsed, and the engine was leaning over on the right A-arm. The suspension was shot: no rubber in the front at all, and flat leaf springs in the rear. The alignment was so poor that the car looked pigeon-toed.

And then there was the electrical system. It looked like a battlefield of demented spiders. Melted wires, the requisite bundle of bare-ended wires-to-nowhere hanging from the dash, and a lamp-cord horn circuit. In short, everything was a mess.

But the body was straight, and there was little rust. With a Studebaker, that's a huge plus.

Rebuilt 259 c.i. engine, 0.60 over, with viscous-drive fan, 4bbl. Carter WCFB
A Studebaker in its natural habitat -- on the road.
I Love my Lark!

Today, on the sixth anniversary of bringing Barney home, I can confidently say I'd do it all over again. In that time:
  • I've rebuilt the engine (well, had it rebuilt).
  • I've rebuilt the transmission (again, had it rebuilr. I sense a theme here).
  • I've rebuilt the suspension, front and rear (did that myself).
  • The brakes were converted from a single- to a dual-master-cylinder system, with all new hoses, shoes, drums and steel lines all around.
  • I completely re-wired the car with an OEM-spec wiring harness.
  • Cooling system and the Climatizer (heater) system were rebuilt as new.
  • Rebuilt the broken speedometer and installed an OEM electric clock.
  • Rebuilt the parking brake system, which was missing.
  • Installed a new dual exhaust system from the manifolds back.
  • Installed tons of other miscellaneous parts - windows, brightwork, fuel system, keylocks, and too much more to list.
Of course there's more to do... new paint, new interior, leaky windshield gaskets, rattle-y doors... but we'll get there. Along the way, I got involved with the Studebaker Drivers Club at the national level, and am now the Administrator for the club's online Forum, which is open to Club members and non-members alike (check it out here).

I love Barney and enjoy the heck out of driving him. I love the looks I get when I rip around corners in him, and the questions and thumbs-ups received, and the questions and conversations that ensue when people walk up and inquire about the car. I wish I'd gotten a Studebaker much earlier in my life -- but I'm sure glad I have him now!

If you're thinking about a Studebaker and wondering if it will be worth the effort - believe me, it will. You'll never meet a kinder bunch of folks than Stude folks. And you'll get more attention in a Studebaker than any Chevy, Ford or Dodge you might find.

Happy Anniversary, Barney. And here's to many more to come.