Studebaker Stories:

By Dick Johnson

My grandad had a 1948 Commander Starlight coupe he bought in 1955. It was like new then. He and grandma would pick me up in it to go to Sunday school and church every Sunday. I also got to ride in it lots of other times and as a kid would just sit in it and play like I was driving someplace. My grand parents were VERY special to me and I loved riding in the back seat with the wrap around rear window.

My grandparents went on an extended vacation in 1957 and the Studebaker sat for some time. When we knew they were coming home dad and I decided to get it started and have it ready when they got home. It had a dead battery and so dad wanted to tow it to start it. We had a long gravel drive so should be no problem. I took the Studebaker and dad had our 1940 American Bantam panel truck that had been our only car for almost eight years that he was going to tow it with. It towed the Studebaker fine but the Stude just wouldn't turn over after several runs up and down the long drive way. Come to find out it was in overdrive and was free wheeling. Once I pushed the overdrive cable in it started fine. I was just a kid but I felt so stupid. The Bantam did just fine with the heavy Studebaker on a chain behind. Remember the Bantam?

Grandpa believed that if you raised the hood you were asking for problems and would only raise it to check the oil and water. He would only add a quart of oil when it was low and top off the radiator but that was it. That car served him well and when he retired in 1958 he also sold the Studebaker. It had 145 thousand miles on it and never had a problem that I am aware of.

I saw this fine car two years later still in the same town and it had a broken rear spring so it leaned to the right and boy did it smoke. I guess someone must have changed the oil. Don't know the miles on it by then but must have been a lot. Never saw it again. Lots of fond memories with this beautiful car and my grandparents.

My second job out of high school in San Diego, California was a place called Motor Machine and Supply and they had a fleet of Studebaker pickups. I got to drive one every day and I loved it. It was a thrill to go to work and see eight Studebaker pickups lined up ready for the day. They were blue and yellow with the company name on the doors.

I thought someday I would own one of these fine cars like my grandparent's and I did, but not for many years later. It was the same color and everything. In 1992 I bought a one-owner 1948 Land Cruiser in Albany Oregon. It had, however, sat in their back yard for some time and in that time large piles of fire wood had been built up all around the car and it was also sitting under a large tree. I still liked it and had to have it. I spent one full day removing all the fire wood to get it out. The car was full of spiders and webs and mold.  I then had to have it towed 130 miles to my home south of there. It was in worse shape than I thought so it sat in my front yard untill a guy stopped by one day and said it was "just what he wanted" and offered me three times what it had cost me. So, I sold it. Don't know what ever happened to it but he said he was going to restore it. I hope he did.

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