Studebaker Stories:


By Roger Boesky

Having been born in Detroit, when you are fifteen your life is nothing but the cars you see and the cars you wish you could have. In Michigan at that time, 1952, we could have a permit to drive alone during daylight hours.  After considerable begging I was allowed to ask my Uncle, a car salesman, if he could find me a very inexpensive car that someone traded in that didn't need too much work.

The call came and I was taken to view a 1941 Studebaker Champion. It was black and barely had a dent. It even started without a sputter. I was in heaven and my father agreed to the huge sum of $65.00. Curiously enough that was the same price that he had paid for the Schwinn bike that I "had to have" two years earlier.   

I wanted to sleep in the car that night. I was up early the next morning and started driving the gearshift car, which was only the second time in my life that I ever drove a gearshift car. My first experience was with my older cousin in Fort Wayne Indiana where I learned to grind out the transmission on his Plymouth Belvedere. I also started my education on old cars. When I drove into the gas station it was the days when the attendant would have to fill the tank for you. He would ask me "Ethyl or Regular" and I would answer "Oil". The car was a miser on gasoline but a veritable hog on oil.

The fear in my life came when I came to a large heavily trafficked intersection and the light turned red. All the cars stopped other than mine. I barely made it through the intersection and stopped at the gas station at the top of the hill by gearing down. It seemed that the rubber grommets in my brake cylinders were all worn out and the brake fluid just leaked out. I only had enough money, $6.00, to get one wheel's brakes fixed but it worked, at least for two days. 

It was then that I had to go back and get the next wheel cylinder fixed. As one got fixed the next one would wear out from the greater pressure. It was an expensive lesson in hydraulics. I wouldn't dare tell my father since he was kind enough not to accept the money I offered to pay for the car from my job as a soda jerk and meat delivery boy.

Since that day I have owned expensive luxury cars, sports cars and even an exotic collectors car or two. None of them had the cache or the class of that old Studebaker. I would love to have it back.

Recently when my grandson suggested he would like a car when he is sixteen, I suggested we peruse the want ads. for a '41 Studebaker.

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