View Full Version : My Lark finally landed

06-20-2016, 09:26 AM
I picked up my 1961 Lark VIII this weekend. It is now sitting in my garage and the mountain of parts that came with it are up in the attic. Landed Saturday and got it on four jack stands Sunday morning. Pulled the wheels off, drop the gas tank, and put some penetrating fluid down each cylinder. I put a wrench on the crank and it will turn over. The guy I got it from claims it runs and drives. The master brake cylinder was almost dry when I picked it up. I put some brake fluid in there to see if I could get enough pedal to move on and off the trailer without fear of running into something. Managed to get enough pedal. I see there is one wheel cylinder leaking pretty badly, but luckily there are four new ones in the mountain of parts...

I plan to clean out the gas tank (it is pretty clean inside (still had a little over two gallons of old gas in there when I dropped it down). I will flush it out, clean up the outside and paint it and have it ready to go back on. Tonight, I will blow some clean gas through the fuel line between the tank and the pump and see what it looks like. I will likely replace them, but they appear to be in good shape, so if they are clean, I might just leave them. Then it will be compression test, check for spark, new set of plugs and wires, and put the fuel system back together. Then I will see if I can get the engine to run.

The car is in exceptional condition. All four fenders were replaced before it went into storage and are rust free. I have a NOS left rear fender in the pile of parts, as well as a left front in good condition. There are two NOS doors in the pile (crazy to see doors that old that have never been on a car...) although the ones on the car are in good condition. They have a little rust (very little) along the bottoms, but it appears to be surface only (time will tell, but at least I have the two in my attic now if needed).

I am going back next weekend to pick up the stuff I couldn't get in the first run, including front and rear glass (mine is fine, but I am bringing both those back to go up in storage). I have one complete interior and another that is missing a couple of pieces. One is red, the other blue. The blue one is complete and the original from the car. Trim pieces in the pile are overwhelming... The trim on the car is complete except for one or two pieces, but the pile has enough trim to do two cars at least... I also have 5 bumpers (three front, two rear). Switches, quarter windows, intake manifolds, bell housings, steering columns, power steering setup, distributors, fuel pumps, wiper motors and linkages assembly, and the list goes on and on. I ended up taking everything he had in parts (my first thought was to pick through what I thought I might need, but I have the space for it, so I took it all). The car is virtually complete, so all the parts are just extras.

I will post some pics once I get settled down and have a chance to get it outside. Excited to work on this with my kids. They are excited too.


1961 Lark
259cid V8
2 door
off white exterior
blue interior

Warren Webb
06-20-2016, 10:08 AM
Welcome to the forum Craig & Studebaker ownership!! I can detect the excitement in your post & don't blame you a bit. I'd be just as excited too!! You have a good game plan before it's ready to drive. I'd like to make one suggestion & that is to replace all the rubber fuel lines with 5/16ths "fuel injection" hose. That hose will stand up to the ethanol gas that we have to accept nowadays vs. the older, cheaper hose that ethanol attacks & eats away pretty quickly.

Let's see some pictures too! We all love to see them on cars like yours & completed ones too. Once again, WELCOME!

06-20-2016, 10:48 AM
Just start the engine up from a remote tank if you prefer and clean out some of the engine. After getting it hot and running, then perform your compression test. I probably wouldn't until I'd run the engine for a few hours...anyway. My suggestion, spending your money of course, is to now swap in a later AMC dual M/C with your other 4 cylinders & hoses (3)..... and at least after your tank cleaning, you can run around the yard....

Commander Eddie
06-20-2016, 11:03 AM
That is exciting. You will love driving that car. The larks are a real pleasure on the highway or in town. They are very nimble and responsive. What engine does it have in it? Is it an automatic or manual shift car?
I look forward to see your photos when you post them. It sounds like you got a real treasure trove of parts. You might be able to sell what you don't need to recoup some of your investment. Good for you.
Don't forget to join the Studebaker Driver's Club International as well as your local chapter. You will be a happy camper. Congratulations! :!!:

06-20-2016, 11:07 AM
Thx Warren. I do plan to replace all the rubber piece of the fuel line. May keep the metal parts if they are clean.

Jack, the brake system will need to be addressed from end to end. The existing M/C is a single unit and it was close to dry (I can see rust on the inside of the reservoir, so it needs looked at for sure. Lines, etc. will also need looked at.

Eddie - it is a 259cid automatic. The car has a Studebakers Drivers Club sticker on the front windshield...

My first two issues to attack are to get the engine to fire and to get the braking system working properly. It makes everything else much easier if the car can be moved around under its own power.

Pics coming...

T.J. lavallee
06-20-2016, 10:06 PM
Welcome aboard! Looks like you really scored one heck of a deal. Looking forward to some pictures of your car and your stash. Congratulations!

06-21-2016, 07:23 AM
I will get some pictures together this weekend. Hopefully i can fire the engine by then.

06-21-2016, 07:39 AM
I will get some pictures together this weekend. Hopefully i can fire the engine by then.

Good deal Craig, can't wait to see the pics. As you can tell, we really like to see pictures of members' cars on this forum :D.

I love the '61 Larks......to me they were the best of the early Larks, with all the subtle mods that were made for '61 that set them apart. Good driving cars, no problem with keeping up with today's traffic and road conditions. What body style do you have? There should be a small plate held onto the upper portion of the passenger (right) side firewall under the hood that will give the body style (something like 61V-xx). The numbers on the second line will be the body number......ie, they kept up with how many bodies of each style that were built by numbering them on this plate.

06-21-2016, 09:42 AM
I lived in Randleman NC for 12 years up until 2012.
My door number and firewall are as follows:


What can I discern from those number? Year, engine, production location and what number the car was in the production run? Anything else?

06-21-2016, 10:07 AM
I lived in Randleman NC for 12 years up until 2012.
My door number and firewall are as follows:


What can I discern from those number? Year, engine, production location and what number the car was in the production run? Anything else?

Yep, been to Randleman numerous times.

I'm assuming here that "61V-J61240" is off the firewall tag. If so, this tells me it is a 1961 V8 Regal hardtop. The J6 is what tells me it is a Regal hardtop. The body number is 1240, but I'm not sure if they started numbering the bodies at "1" or "101" in '61. I'm sure someone else will jump in on that.

The other number, 61V-J9590, has me confused. I assume this number is off the serial number plate on the drivers side door post? Are you sure it is not 61V-I9590? Studebaker used a Roman numeral "one" in the serial numbers, instead of the typical "1".

To get a lot more information, you can order the Production Order from the Studebaker Museum (see here: http://www.studebakermuseum.org/store/production-orders/production-order-1960-1966_00029/). It will give you all the info on the original options, the engine number, colors, where it was shipped to, etc. Neat thing to have.

The '61 hardtops are beautiful cars, I can't wait to see the pictures! Good find :).

06-22-2016, 07:20 AM
I mistyped the J. It is an I on the door plate number.

06-24-2016, 08:58 AM
I fired the engine for the first time last night (gas tank still off, but used a five gallon gas jug and a piece of rubber hose). Pulled the plugs and check gaps, etc. Test for spark and all was good. All I did to the distributor was grease the lobes at the point the strike the points and blew the dust out. It fired right up and was amazingly quiet. Not a valve tap, rap or rattle. Actually one of the quietest V8 engines I have ever heard run. Crazy to think this thing has been sitting for all these years. The guy I got it from claimed he started it a couple times a year. Now I can move on to putting this thing back together. A major milestone for me!

dean pearson
06-24-2016, 11:42 AM
That has to be exciting!!!

Mine will run too some day darnit!


06-24-2016, 02:14 PM
I mistyped the J. It is an I on the door plate number.

That I on the S/N plate represents a 1 (one).

You have a very good model of Studebaker. I had a 1961 Lark VIII hardtop with a factory sunroof (Skytop).

06-24-2016, 05:25 PM
Good show, As far as the brakes go, throwaway the rubber components and check dates on any that you received with the car. No date or a few years old, throw them out too. Get new one and drive happily.

Welcome, Bob :!:

06-24-2016, 08:58 PM
Craig, this really sounds like a catch - looking forward to Your Pics.