View Full Version : Daily driving a 1960 Studebaker Lark

03-26-2015, 12:32 PM
Hello Everyone,
I'm new to the forum. I've got my eye on this 1960 Studebaker Lark. I have always wanted to own and drive a Studebaker, but If I bought it I would need to Daily Drive it for about a month till I bought a secondary vehicle. The car (60S-F4 7491) has a 3 speed on the column with flat-head engine. The frame and body don't have any rust, and the car still has the old ignition coil, carburetor, and distributor, I'd say it probably hasn't ever really been touched. The owner told me he bought it from a swap meet, and the guy drove it 30 miles to his location, I have yet to test drive or fire the engine up but after he told me that it sounds like it has the potential to run pretty good. Last year I bought a bunch of tools, everything from a torque wrench to a welder so that if I had the opportunity to buy a running and driving Studebaker I could work on it. I'm currently a college student getting my Bachelors in Automotive Technology, I don't claim to know everything about vehicles but I do have a technical background. Lets just say I'm enough to be dangerous. I guess I'm asking if this is just a crazy idea to daily drive a 55 year old vehicle that has limited parts availability. I'm pretty sure I'm going to quickly start finding the weak link in this car, and would need to repair it. The 6 cylinder flat head engine stays in the car, but I would be open to modernizing things like the generator to a alternator, original carb to a aftermarket, mechanical fuel pump to a electronic fuel pump. I also understand this will require alot more maintenance like adjusting the valves, packing wheel bearings, and alot more patience driving and operating the vehicle. All in all i'm just trying to see how crazy I am.

03-26-2015, 12:49 PM
Crazy? Sure.. But, so is everyone else here. Welcome to the madness!

Several here have done it, myself included. If the car is sound and well maintained, it'll serve you well. It sounds like you have a good grasp on what to expect out of the car, along with the needed "mechanical aptitude" to drive it every day.

Up until a few years ago, Studes were my only cars. I'd put 10-12,000 miles a year on one without thinking twice about it. I've been on a Stude Hiatus the last couple of years, but another one will be coming my way sometime this year. And it too will be driven daily.

I'm 25 and grew up in Studes. But be careful.. They have a way of sucking you in and tend to multiply.

BTW.. Parts availability isn't limited at all. www.studebakervendors.com - www.studebakerparts.com

03-26-2015, 12:53 PM
If the car s truly in good shape, you should be fine. There is no need to start worrying about changing things unless they don't work. Parts are available to keep the car running just like when they were new. Just be sure things like the brakes and steering are operating correctly and don't try to drive it like a new car with the latest brakes and power amenities.

03-26-2015, 12:57 PM
Welcome to our world.:) I have some errands I am behind on already. However, I'll offer the following, and hope others will chime in with more valuable detailed info. First...BRAKES!:ohmy: It is more important to make it stop, than go. As far as "daily driver"...my suggestion is only if you are in a position to deal with the anxiety of break downs, delays, and unpredictable problems, while you are becoming proficient/confident in your ability to get and maintain its reliability. ;)

If you have strict time requirements for classes and a job...being late for class/work due to mechanical problems with your car could cost more than its worth. I'd rather see you succeed in having a happy time with the car, than have it cost you a job, or have such a bad experience you swear off the hobby forever.:QQ: As far as hard to get parts, once you "plug-in" to the Studebaker Drivers Club, you will be amazed at how much resources are available. Good luck.:) I gotta go.

Others please chime in and give this youngster some encouragement. We need more like him.:!:

Mike Van Veghten
03-26-2015, 01:08 PM
My car...my only driver, beside a hot rod or two, is a 59. 2dr. wagon. It sits in my driveway, doesn't get washed as often as it should...waiting for me to need to go somewhere..! Lunch, the store, to a friends, to the drag strip this weekend, etc., etc.
They were originally made to drive, as long as your car as a whole, is in a reasonably good state of tune...drive it.

The same care that goes into ANY car to keep it on the road, should also go into your Stude.


Commander Eddie
03-26-2015, 01:16 PM
I drive a 1961 Champ truck every day to work and back. Wouldn't have it any other way. It is dependable and gets lots of looks, honks, thumbs up, and shout outs each time I drive it.
If you buy the Lark take it to a knowledgeable mechanic and have everything checked out before putting in to service. Brakes, carburetor, exhaust, tune-up, transmission, rear axles and differential, wheel bearings, alignment... you get the picture. Once you know it is dependable and safe to drive just enjoy it. It will likely give you little trouble once dialed in.
If you can do any of the above work yourself and your confident of your skills then that will save you some money.
Drive it! Enjoy it! Join the SDC and your local chapter and make lots of new friends.

03-26-2015, 02:59 PM
If you buy the car, a good next purchase would be manuals, shop and parts.

03-26-2015, 03:07 PM
42387Hey, if a 15 year old kid can do it....

03-26-2015, 03:37 PM
I drove a '69 Valiant for 4 years with no issues. It had a points type ignition and a slant six that needed the valves adjusted every so often. Parts were probably more of an issue than with the Stude. One suggestion. Do not throw out anything. Much of the original parts can be rebuilt and will be better than some replacement parts. And the more work you do yourself, the more you will bond with the car.

03-26-2015, 04:28 PM
Welcome to SDC and to the SDC Forum Nicholas, you will "Love the Lark", have fun. :!:

One of your thoughts to "Update"/Change that I do not agree with is the Electric Fuel pump, they are no more reliable than a mechanical and probably LESS. Your other updates could be good ones down the road, but for now, just check & tune it and DRIVE it.

One thing you may not know that differs from other makes, is that Studebaker cared about their Customers, and did not scrap hardly anything from their huge Warehouses all over the Country, in South Bend and in Canada.
A GREAT many of these Original 1947 to 1966, OEM, NOS Parts are still in South Bend, IN and other parts of the Country and the World.

03-26-2015, 04:44 PM
.......I wouldn't trade a good working generator for a wire swapped alternator. Open it up, clean things, replace adjust and buy a spare belt.....

03-26-2015, 05:16 PM
Cool to read you're gonna use it!
Whatever starts to go wrong or sound strange: fix it in time & fix it good & that part will be alright for another 20 years!
59-60 Lark is one of my favorite Studebaker models & #1 of the 60's.
Good luck!

03-26-2015, 06:30 PM
Go for it 'ntreaster'!....Perhaps you may even decide to enter your 'daily driver' Studebaker in the Daily Driver Division I hope to see happen at future Studebaker events!

As you read the above posts, it becomes apparent that there's MUCH support on this forum for 'Daily Driver Studes'! :!!:

(I KNEW they'd come around! ;))

03-26-2015, 07:10 PM
My intention was to never be without a daily driver Studebaker. But road salt in Pennsylvania winters, or my financial inability to stay ahead of it, was a real eye-opener.
Your profile indicates you are in the U.S. What are your winter conditions? In many areas of the U.S. it wouldn't surprise me to see folks still driving their Locomobiles.
If you have the ability to keep it structurally intact, mechanical maintenance of a Studebaker is virtually child's play.

Warren Webb
03-26-2015, 07:49 PM
Nick, before you do any changing generators, carbs & the like I recommend changing the brake fluid first. Flush the system out really good & refill with fresh DOT3 brake fluid. You have probably been taught how hydroscopic brake fluid is so that should be #1 on the list. While your there check all your fluid levels. Being a 3 speed stick it's important to use the right gear oil in there- SL 1 ONLY. Do not use the SL 5 & it's counterparts found easily at most auto parts stores (we call them FLAPS-found local auto parts stores). If by chance you have a 3 speed with overdrive, the overdrive case has it's own separate fill hole to check or the overdrive unit could seize up if run out of oil.

Your engine is a solid, dependable unit, all 90 horses of it. As you can see by all the responses your in good company & Welcome to the Forum!

55 56 PREZ 4D
03-26-2015, 08:15 PM
So, you haven't bought it yet. Good.
Sounds as if the guy who owns it now doesn't know much about it either. It could need loads of attention. Are you prepared to do that immediately? Is he a dealer or flipper ?
Look it over very carefully, with someone who is familiar with Studebakers or at least old cars in general.
Drive it before you buy it.
If you do, or even before, you buy it, go to the section on this site "What to do after you bought a Studebaker". There is a lot of valuable information.
Do some thorough maintenance, have fun. And drive the wheels off it. That's why they were built.

03-26-2015, 09:28 PM
Crazy? Wasn't that a Patsy Cline song? I drive a 57 3/4 ton Transtar most days, sometimes a 62 station wagon, always fun.

03-26-2015, 09:35 PM
If you do, or even before, you buy it, go to the section on this site "What to do after you bought a Studebaker".
Here's the link Dan Manko referenced. http://studebakerdriversclub.com/TechThings2do.asp

03-27-2015, 01:21 AM
My Lark has been my daily driver for over 15 years and has a lot less maintenance problems than the wifes new cars. The difference is you can work on an old car, new cars go back to the dealer (constantly)

03-27-2015, 04:28 AM
I hope you don't replace the generator with an alternator. The generator is simpler and does it's job very well. Studebaker built a fine car and I wouldn't change a thing. I like original and historical accuracy and would keep it the way Studebaker built it. Get under and get dirty giving it a grease job and oil change. Oil and grease all the moving parts, and keep any cables well oiled so they don't stick or rust.

I wouldn't make any of my cars a daily driver, because I want to save them for myself and future owners. I would never drive when salt is on the roads, so that alone cuts out 6 to 7 months a year. I also try to never drive in the rain, in an effort to cut down rust.

Do you have overdrive? How many miles on the car? Thanks, Tom

03-27-2015, 08:12 PM
Thanks guys! I appreciate all the warm welcomes! Good to know the Studebaker community is running strong. This will give me some good material to chew on!

03-28-2015, 06:08 AM
Go for it, but I would keep it original. Good luck.

03-28-2015, 09:28 AM
I use my 62 Lark as a daily driver, out of necessity but also because its pure fun. My biggest suggestion would be that if you indeed plan on using it regularly, look at it not as a Studebaker or a collectible, but as a CAR. Check it out and make sure you trust it to do what you need it to do, or can easily get it to that condition for reliable service. The previous owner of "Louie" did not disclose everything, intentionally or otherwise, and now I have quite a few minor issues to deal with to get it where I really want it to be, assuming I keep it. Buyer beware. Otherwise, welcome aboard, and have FUN.

03-30-2015, 09:10 PM
ntreaster, I would recommend thoroughly checking the wire harness. 50+ years is plenty of time for former owners to abuse it and cause unforeseen problems. My 63 Wagonaire harness was a mess but until I removed some tape near the firewall grommet I didn't realize how serious it really was. I found the ammeter wire cover was melted off and just bare wire running along with the other wires in the harness. The car ran fine and just had a few minor electrical issues, or so I thought. I'm currently installing a complete wire harness from Haywire. Glad I looked around, Probably saved myself a fire. I never detected any smell or hint that there was a concern about the wiring.

04-01-2015, 10:22 AM
I bought a '63 V8 Lark as a daily driver last October. It was supposed to be "fix the brakes and get it on the road"... I am still working out all the bugs (and there were some huge bugs) I have found with the car.

Make sure your brakes are fully serviced before even moving the car. Grease it up and if it feels loose in the steering department get the front end checked and/or serviced. Unless the car is currently registered and insured you probably won't be simply buying it and plating it without an inspection, anyways.

Just about anything that is broke can be fixed with maybe the exception of a rusted out frame.... The biggest question you have to answer is what condition is the car in NOW and how long do you have to get it fixed and safetied before you need to rely on it?

Good luck with this car if you decide to take it on! Studebakers as daily drivers are a viable option to your used Asian or domestic clunkers. Just don't be asking it for more than it can give you.

04-01-2015, 02:28 PM
My brother drove a 60 Lark 6 daily, until he drove it off the road in a supposed blizzard and bent the frame. Does your car have overdrive? If so it should be an economical ride and easy to maintain. Millions of Mexicans drive VW beetles into the ground. A 60 Lark should be just as easy to keep on the road. Everything you need is available. One system at a time. Front disc brake conversion would be helpful. Everything you need is available through SDC.

04-01-2015, 04:12 PM
Unless the car is currently registered and insured you probably won't be simply buying it and plating it without an inspection, anyways.

Well thank the good Lord for a few liberties we still have left over here in MOST of the States, no Frigging Inspections required!

04-02-2015, 10:40 AM
StudeRich, I treat the inspection as part and parcel of the insurance I pay for when I put a vehicle on the road as a daily driver. This way if I am involved in any sort of accident with the car, I have, at the very least, an umbrella that can help protect me from being sued by someone who will try to say that my old car contributed, in any way, to the accident. I do almost all my own work on my cars but I do NOT have a journeyman's ticket as a mechanic so the inspection is part of my CYA protocols. Using the best quality parts I can find and having the service manual handy are two other parts of that strategy.

I do hope ntreaster and anyone else who is thinking about using an old Studebaker (and ALL Studebakers are OLD) realizes that John Q Public will have no sympathy if you get hurt or hurt someone else in an accident while you were driving an old car and something on it failed. Just look at what is going on with new cars these days... Manufacturers are now building cars that are safer than they have ever been and they are building cars that are actually advertised as being able to help the driver avoid accidents in the first place. I withhold judgement on this one. I believe the driver is still responsible.

That being said, I would still recommend getting a qualified mechanic to give the car a thorough go-over before puting it on the road. Maybe one of your instructors?

Once again, good luck with your project.

04-03-2015, 01:24 AM
When I was turning wrenches at dealerships my daily driver was a Studebaker either one of my sedans or a T cab. Many a night on the way home someone in a brand X pickup figured that the Studebaker running in front of them at 70 mph was going a bit to slow and then it was on.

04-03-2015, 01:34 AM
StudeNorm...Inspection what a joke. I finally transferred Pinkie a few years ago afre having her twenty years on the strip. The inspector had her all day and all he was to do is verify the serial number from the rear frame cross member as deckades ago the plate on the door sill broke off in my driveway. He finally gave up and just rivited a state number on the door sill. Inspectors that knew Studebaker are long since dead and sure do not want some fool messing with my brakes or some other component.