Studebaker Stories:

My 1935 Commander

By Alan Putz

(Webmaster note: Alan prefaced his story with the following "This is my third time as a member. I first joined the SDC in 1966, but let it lapse a few times. I don't drive any more because glaucoma is causing me to go blind.")
I stumbled into my interest of Studebakers quite by accident. When I was fifteen, in 1965, I really wanted to buy a car. Not any car, but a car from the 1930’s, preferably a Ford. There was something about those big old bulbous autos with that deco styling I just loved. Of course at the age of fifteen, not having a drivers license and having a dad who thought I was nuts, I’d have settled for a Rambler station wagon. To my father, cars from the 1930’s were just the old junks of his teen years. So when my dad came home from work one night and said a friend of his had a 1935 Studebaker for sale for $300, and would I like to buy it, I just about peed in my pants with excitement.

In my fevered mind that car was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. It was a huge, black, four door Commander with a shiny deep black lacquer paint job and a straight eight engine. Of course I bought it on the spot, and rode home in the passenger seat with my dad driving it and telling me what a piece of crap it was. Until I got my learners permit all I could do was drive it up and down the driveway. To extend my driving thrill a few feet more I’d even drive it onto the backyard grass. After getting my learners permit I recruited my buddy Ray, because he already had a drivers license, but no car. This allowed me to drive all over town with as many of my friends and hangers on as we could pack into that old car. 

Over the years my life changed, and after moving out on my own a collector car wasn’t feasible. There wasn’t really a place to keep it when I was living on a hippie commune, much less the money for upkeep. So my dad sold it for $600 and gave me the original $300 I’d paid for it, keeping the rest as payment for six years of storage in his garage. 

Since then I’ve had the occasion to own four more Studebakers, a '62 GT Hawk, a '55 President, a '54 Conestoga Wagon, and a '50 Starlight Coupe. They’re all gone now and all I have is a Chrysler PT Cruiser that I don’t really drive. Yet every time I go to one of these old car meets, that lust for another old car stirs again. Then I look in Hemmings, and I see the prices they’re asking for a Studebaker I probably won’t really even drive because of my blindness, and the lust turns to dust.

Maybe I’ll just drive the PT Cruiser around in my driveway and pretend it’s a big old 1935 Studebaker.

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