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View Full Version : Was it Dad, or was it the Studebakers?



comatus
10-23-2008, 10:31 PM
On the Car Lust weblog (http://www.carlustblog.com/2008/10/living-the-car.html)--where they think a Plymouth Sapporo is a classic--a certain TAFKA posted this steamer:

"When I was coming up my dad insisted on owning Studebakers. He also had only daughters, so guess who had to help work on these beautiful, but totally unreliable cars over the weekend? And I remember very few weekends that we weren't tinkering with cars. My girlhood was blighted by never knowing of a morning whether one or the other of the two Studebakers (the Commander was worse, but the Avanti later got that way) was going to start up, or whether there would be fraught moments before taking off for work or school, of my dad having to go under the hood to dick around with the carburetor, snarling at us kids just because we were there; having to wait outside in the car for.freaking.ever while my parents were in some store or other, with one foot lightly on the accelerator, ready to give it a little gas because of a distressing tendency to stall out at idle, and if it did, God only knew if it would start up again (often it didn't). When later on my own cars included an AMC Pacer and a Chevy Citation, they imparted a certain sense of familiarity, like the abused child who grows up to marry an abusive mate. Vintage cars, bah! And yet--when Florida discontinued the antique/collectable license plate, I was disappointed. My '90 Nissan 240SX, which I gave my son to drive, would have been eligible in '10. Oh, well..."

This really reminds me of the "I Hate My Classic Car" go-around on Slate.com. I reckon we can assume both these were V8's, so the first problem could very well be that a Stude V8 "wants to run" so bad (Ed Costell's phrase, not mine) that you can't set them by ear: you can be 35 degrees off proper time and still more or less go down the road. And then the carburetion issues--every decade or so you just have to unbolt the darn thing and pay the nice man to put new little parts inside, you know? Maybe if there was a little light that came on...

There are some valid complaints about Studebaker body rust; our braking and handling comments, I think, are out of proportion, but worth discussing. But I have never heard anyone complain before about Studebakers not starting, or being unreliable once they lit. To say that this commenter sees a car as nothing more than an appliance is an insult--to appliances. A 'fraught moment'! Ooh, icky.

Who leaves a car idling? With kids in it? Back in the day, maybe. Today you'd go straight to Dads' Court and Guzzlers Anonymous.

So I guess what I'm asking is, does anybody know TAFKA or her dad, and could you stop by and give them both a gentle, loving whack up side the head?

Steve T
10-23-2008, 10:42 PM
Not until after they'd agreed to sell me their hopelessly-unreliable Studes for next to nothin'...:D Quitting irretrievably at idle? Betty did that for a while. Bad regulator. Good car!

A Sapporo isn't a classic?? Shoot...

S.

studeclunker
10-24-2008, 12:07 AM
You know, there are some 'tinkerers' who should have their hands slammed in a car hood and never allowed to open one again. They consider themselves mechanics and couldn't tune up a lawnmower. This woman's father sounds like one of those.:(

We had some people up the road from us when I was growing up. They had Fords and the same problem. The head of the family was just as much a doofus as Tafka's.[}:)]

It isn't really the brand, as much the quality of idiot that owns it.;)

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/december%2006/HPIM0234.jpg http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/56%20Parkview%20Wagon/56wagonleftfrontclipped-1.jpg
Home of the famous Mr. Ed!
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Studebaker!
Ron Smith
Where the heck is Lewiston, CA?

bams50
10-24-2008, 05:34 AM
It seems the writer just isn't an old car fan; the majority of the population isn't. And, often those that think they might be get chased right out of the hobby when they get one and actually try to live with it[xx(] If all you've ever known is FI, computer controls, R&P steering, advanced suspensions, etc. it's hard to regress to a car without any of that. I cherish it because it takes me back to earlier times, when my elders were still alive and well, and the times were simpler.

The reality is, much of what the writer said is quite accurate. I knew plenty of old cars that would not stay running no matter what was done to it without somebody sitting in there nursemaiding it! I'm spoiled by the fact that I can start Linda's car from inside the house, just by pushing a button on a key fob, making her car all warm and thawed before she even steps foot out of the house; a miracle of modern cars!

Too often we see folks soured on the hobby- and Studebakers- by leading with a romantic notion of what driving a classic car daily is like, and being crushed by the reality of how tricky, or downright difficult, it can be. Old cars require a LOT more constant care, repair, and parts searching; not to mention most modern garages turn them away, in part because they don't have the knowledge to work on them, but also, classic car owners can be very difficult. We've found that those that are new to older cars are frequently angry and frustrated whan they find that a 50s car is just not going to serve as dependably as a 2008[V] So we don't work on them without carefully talking with the owner about this beforehand.

Anyone that knows me, knows there's NO ONE who loves old cars- especially Studebakers- more than I. But the romantic notion that these cars can be driven every day, year-round, as efficiently and trouble-free as modern cars is just not true. You'd better be proficient in working on these things yourself, and very patient... or you're setting yoursel and others- up for a big disappointment[V]

So; to say the writer needs scolding is unfair... maybe if she was wrong on any point, which she was NOT. Sounds to me like she's giving an accurate portrayal of her experiences. No way I could blame her for being turned off. Personally, my love for them helps me gloss over all that; but I still accept the reality;)

Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
Parish, central NY 13131

"Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

"Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

Chris Pile
10-24-2008, 08:59 AM
quote:If all you've ever known is FI, computer controls, R&P steering, advanced suspensions, etc. it's hard to regress to a car without any of that.

Boy, I know that's right. A friend's late model croaked on him, and I let him borrow my Champion for the drive to work. He could handle the column shift, but freaked at the lack of power steering. He thought it was broken, "It's so sloppy, you can move the wheel six inches and it doesn't turn". Welcome to old cars, pal!

Chris Pile
Midway Chapter SDC
The Studebaker Special

monomaniac
10-24-2008, 09:13 AM
I don't know what you guys are talking about, especially Bams.
You must know something I don't. I drive Studebakers daily and have
done since 1968. I fix nothing on my cars because I don't know how.
I go anywhere anyone else does and some places where they don't go.
For three years I drove 1000 mile round trips every month (2003 to 2006). I did have to replace the alternator and I had to get the rad redone (locally at a rad shop -- no problem), and a brake job. These trips were driven at mostly freeway speeds (70).
I did not have power steering or power brakes.
Explain to me where I've gone wrong.

Roscomacaw
10-24-2008, 11:16 AM
Thanks Art - you saved me some keystrokes.:D While I DO feel at least moderately qualified to adress (sometimes even properly) whatever maladies befall my Studes - they really don't NEED much malady rectifying!
Man, if I had to raise Pete's hood and bang on the carb every time I wanted to go someplace..... I'd be driving something else! Yes - driving a vintage car IS different from driving a new Camry! In fact, I'm happy with the fact that the 10-year old Camry my wife drives isn't constantly wanting attention. It's just one less thing for me to worry about. It's a reliable appliance that takes her to work and back every day and it still amazes me that it's one that was built from a totalled car and does so well. In fact it has run great from the first time I turned the key, back in '02.
It goes from here to there and then back to here without complaint and in gas-thrifty fashion. So if mindless transport is what's most important to you - buy a modern, computer-operated anony-mobile.

I really mistreat Pete. I really do.[V] But when he DOES have an ailment, it's so nice that >I< can fix it! I like that.
We've seen folks come to this forum, get all full of whoopee about buyin' a bargain Lark and beating the odds and the costs of daily transport - only to have a gut-wrenching reality hit them right above the belt when they have to take their mount to a mechanic (when finding a REAL "Mechanic" is no small feat in itself!) and then getting the bill for the repair. It's almost predictable - the secondary faith once the first malady is behind them - a finger-crossing faith that it'll be smooth sailin' from now on. Then - pow - something else fails and we start to get a hint of why this particular Lark was such a bargain. But with that second repair bill, the creeping doubt starts to fester. It's to a point now where it's a matter of just how many of these expensive little "rectifications" the hopeful's wallet can take before crying "UNCLE!"
And going back to what I said about finding a "real mechanic" is as key as anything. It's getting tough to find such a person. I chanced into an auto repair center the other day and sorta watched as a "tecnician" ran a diagnostic routine on a late-model Buick. The truth is, he hooked the diagnostic rig to the car - started it and then stood back. The machine then operated the car while the guy stood - staring off into the blue. When the tests were done, the machine signalled such and spat out a ticket with the results. He had alot of ASE badges on his shoulder (the guy - not the machine) but I'll bet I couldn't trust him to know how to set the float level in my Cruiser's WW.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President two door

bams50
10-24-2008, 05:08 PM
quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs


We've seen folks come to this forum, get all full of whoopee about buyin' a bargain Lark and beating the odds and the costs of daily transport - only to have a gut-wrenching reality hit them right above the belt when they have to take their mount to a mechanic (when finding a REAL "Mechanic" is no small feat in itself!) and then getting the bill for the repair. It's almost predictable - the secondary faith once the first malady is behind them - a finger-crossing faith that it'll be smooth sailin' from now on. Then - pow - something else fails and we start to get a hint of why this particular Lark was such a bargain. But with that second repair bill, the creeping doubt starts to fester. It's to a point now where it's a matter of just how many of these expensive little "rectifications" the hopeful's wallet can take before crying "UNCLE!"


Art- The above quote from Biggs explains exactly what I'm talking about!

Your case is the extremely rare exception to the rule! The vast majority, probably more than 95%, have experiences as outlined above- the opposite of yours. Maybe the key to your success is the fact that yours have been in use and kept up with regularity right along. Most old cars are not. We can take a car that's been sitting for a long time; clean the fuel system and rebuild the carb; rebuild the brakes, replace hoses, belts, and tires; and get a car that can be driven. But that cannot reverse 50 years of time on every material, part, and substance that makes up that car. On top of that, sitting idle for years takes a toll on every seal, bushing, bearing, line, etc. All these things will fail sooner than later. This is the case- and experience- with almost all older cars.

The subject of this thread is merely recounting her experiences; and they line up with my experiences as a kid with 50s and 60s cars when they were current- any car could fit that experience, not just Studes. My point was to say that I can't get mad at somebody because I don't like their personal experiences- especially when, in my experience, they carry the ring of truth.



Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
Parish, central NY 13131

"Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

"Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

bridgegaurd
10-24-2008, 09:47 PM
Bams i goota go with you on this one, i can remeber a many a time spent with my dad who was an excellent much sought after mechanic. Having me out there helping him get something going.

And i caught that grease bug early on, and spent many an hour keeping the old girls i bought or aquired running. Anyone born in the thirties to the sixties has to admit you are spot on.

They all took an effort. How many of you remeber being glad your car made it past fifty k miles without an overhaul or a rod knocking. Truth is we were mechanics once, and it was knuckle busting, points adjusting, generator rebuilding, carb overhaul and on and on.

But dam if we didn't love it, even our Studes got a cussin now and then. After all her dad could have had a Kaiser.

studeclunker
10-25-2008, 02:10 AM
Bams, I'm going to disagree with you in several points. I've also had new cars. Granted, it's been ten years since I swore off them though.;)

Most of my new cars were either Ford products or Chrysler. The last Ford product was a Mercury Cougar wagon... 83, I think. The thing was a lemon from the start. It blew a head gasket three days after I bought it. The airconditioning never did work right again. The Cougar was, I must admit, the most comfortable car I've ever driven. And I've had Caddies! The very last Chrysler product was a 89 Aries wagon (or was it an 87?). Nice little car, when it wasn't in the shop. I sold it four years later when the maintenance contract expired. That Aries was in the shop at least every other month. After that, I decided to get cars I could work on. The first 'old' car was a '72 Coupe DeVille. Nice car and surprisingly, not bad on gas. Not good either.;) The next was a '64 Commander Wagonaire (South Bend car). I never was able to get the Wagonaire to run right and finally used it as a parts car. I bought another '64 several years later and dubbed it The Blue Witch. What a nightmare! A few months after buying the 'Witch' a '62 Champ pickup came home with me. Ed's been my workhorse since. Needs the steering done since going over the hill. It's gotten really scary. Ol Bess ('56 Parkview) has been at least as reliable as any car I've ever had. She has her problems from time to time. This results from not being able to fix certain parts, like the carb. Still, the old girl gets good mileage and is quite reliable.

Most old cars, IMHO, require a six month period to work out all their problems. The great thing about them is that [u]I</u> can do the working on them. Money still remains my most pressing problem in fixing my cars, nevertheless. Yet, the parts on new cars are usually five to ten times more expensive. So, I'm not complaining at all.:D Besides, the average incognito-bubble has all the character of a roach-motel.[xx(]

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/december%2006/HPIM0234.jpg http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/56%20Parkview%20Wagon/56wagonleftfrontclipped-1.jpg
Home of the famous Mr. Ed!
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Studebaker!
Ron Smith
Where the heck is Lewiston, CA?

rockinhawk
10-25-2008, 05:15 AM
I know about the hard starting bit. When I was a young man,my first car,a 48 Champion developed starter problems. In the morning I would scrape the frost off the windshield, pat the gas twice,switch it on and let it roll 10' down the driveway and pop the clutch before it would crank. That was a long time ago. (sigh) NT


Neil Thornton
Hazlehurst, GA
'57 Silver Hawk
'56 Sky Hawk
'51 2R16 dump truck
Many others.
http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j209/mbstude/avatar2.jpg

studeclunker
10-25-2008, 01:41 PM
quote:Originally posted by rockinhawk

I know about the hard starting bit. When I was a young man,my first car,a 48 Champion developed starter problems. In the morning I would scrape the frost off the windshield, pat the gas twice,switch it on and let it roll 10' down the driveway and pop the clutch before it would crank. That was a long time ago. (sigh) NT

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j209/mbstude/avatar2.jpg


Oh, yes. That's a problem I have with two of them. Still, it illustrates my point. The problem is not the car, but the pocketbook of the owner (like me:)).;)


http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/december%2006/HPIM0234.jpg http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b18/Studeclunker/56%20Parkview%20Wagon/56wagonleftfrontclipped-1.jpg
Home of the famous Mr. Ed!
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Studebaker!
Ron Smith
Where the heck is Lewiston, CA?