Studebaker Stories:


What's in a name? A lot if it's "Studebaker Road"!

Avid Studebaker owners love all things Studebaker, of course. Not only do they have Studebaker cars and/or trucks, they tend to covet them in quantity. Plus, you can bet they have some die cast Studebakers, a collection of literature, clothing, and perhaps even a Studebaker watch. Those items they don't have are invariably found at the top of his or her Christmas list. But, the prize that eludes most every Studebaker enthusiast is a Studebaker address.

The closest most of us will ever come to living on a street or road named after our beloved brand is one of those replica "Studebaker Dr." street signs sold by many of the vendors. Many display that sign in their garage just above their toolbox (appropriately adorned with Studebaker decals) while others have proudly placed theirs on a post at the end of the driveway to announce the entrance to their little bit of Studebaker heaven.

However, there are a few – and I dare say a very few – who have gotten their road renamed "Studebaker". One such person is Jim Napper of McKinney, Texas. Here's what Jim wrote a while back.

"Ever since I've been old enough to drive,Studebaker has been my favorite car or truck", Jim says. "During my lifetime I have owned several.My favorite one was an old 1948 Land Cruiser that I bought from my brother-in-law for $85.00 in 1956. My wife and I thought it was black, and it laid a smoke screen so thick that made everyone behind us fall back so far that we were the only ones on the road it seemed! I took it to a mechanic who replaced the rings and inserts.It was like a new car! We took it home and washed and polished it, and to our amazement it was a beautiful Navy blue. We drove that Studebaker for a long time. Many is the time I've longed to have that one back."

1"Anyway, when we moved to our home in the country 25 years ago, there weren't any signs marking the road that ran in front. Of course, we had a route and box number, but the road was unidentified. Our new country place was located near McKinney, Texas, which is less than an hour north of Dallas. So, one day I went to the County Commissioner and asked about the name of our road.I was informed that it had no official name."

(Note: Jim says that he subsequently learned that as early as 1842 the road had been often referred to as the "West Road" because it served as the covered wagon trail between Sherman, Texas and the Red River, which makes one wonder how many of the Studebaker Brothers' Conestogas had traveled that road a century before Jim drove it with his 48 Land Cruiser.)

"I said jokingly, 'Well, maybe we could call it Studebaker Road', and I went on my way, not giving it another minute of thought."

"Several years later, we received a letter from the county telling us that the 911 emergency system required every residence had to have a real street address, not just a route number. Of course, I had completely forgotten all about that conversation with the County Commissioner's office until I looked at the bottom of the letter and saw our street name: Studebaker Rd."

Jim Napper's story is one many have dreamed. Of course, getting a street named or renamed these days is a complicated process compared to a quarter century ago. Still, as Jim will be the first to advise, "It never hurts to ask."

Today, Jim Napper's property on Studebaker Road is for sale. While Jim will miss the area and especially his Studebaker Road address, he hopes that that another Studebaker fan will become the new owner.

"Now that we are about to sell out and move away", Jim said. "We have the perfect place for a Studebaker person. There's even a commercial building on the property for someone's collection or use as a Studebaker parts house!"

Jim's house dates back to 1894 (though it's been extensively remodeled over the decades) and the area is steeped in history. In the years following the Civil War, opposing factions fought along and near that road resulting in some 40 murders as noted on an historic marker a block from Jim's home.

Today, the name "Studebaker Road" and how it got to be that way, is also a permanent part of the area's history. And perhaps a century from now, an inquiring person is told, "Well, there was this fellow named Jim Napper and he liked Studebakers."

NOTE: At the time of publication of this story, the Napper property was still for sale. If you are interested, CLICK HERE to send Jim an email.

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