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Should I Buy a Studebaker?

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  • Should I Buy a Studebaker?

    Hello All,

    I am reaching out for some advice about a possible vintage car purchase.

    I will be 40 this year and sold my first car, a 1979 Trans Am, in 2011. It is the typical story.

    Much of my family, cousins and uncles, have muscle cars that they have restored and I am thinking about getting involved again.

    If I were to purchase a car I would be looking for something special and worth restoring, or possibly purchase restored. I do not want to spend money and have space taken in my garage for an everyday car.

    The story of the Super Lark is quite fascinating and a car I would consider. I also like the lines of the Commanders.

    Being that I have been out of the vintage car loop for a while, and have never owned a Studebaker, what benefits and pitfalls do you foresee vs. a more common muscle car? Is it significantly more difficult to work on, and find parts for, a Studebaker? What about the cost of parts?

    As a bit of additional background, I would consider myself a novice mechanic. I have a decent array of tools and have done basic maintenance, but have never fully restored a car.

    I would appreciate any insights that you can provide regarding whether I would be a good candidate to purchase a Studebaker, and also what models you might recommend.



  • #2
    Welcome Ash, I really can't tell You what to buy. BUT I would say YES buy a Studebaker "they are tons of fun all around" get Your self a Super Lark/Lark Type 1963 - 64 and give the Family a real run against what ever they are Driving .
    Joseph R. Zeiger


    • #3
      There is one big won't be able to stop at one!....pretty so0n you will start looking for the second one....and then the third....
      Lou Van Anne
      62 Champ
      64 R2 GT Hawk
      79 Avanti II


      • #4
        I find Studebaker to be a better looking and higher quality car than the big 3. I also think it's a much better buy for what you have to pay to get one. If it needs to be restored, then that cost is pretty much the same for the same type work on any car. If you want something sporty, then I'd look for a 53 or 54 C or K body, any Hawk, or an Avanti.

        I enjoy my 1950 two and four door Studebakers. My 1950 Land Cruiser is probably the nicest, smoothest riding car I've ever owned, and it get good gas mileage.


        • #5
          Studebakers come is all shapes and flavors. I have an Avanti and a 54 Coupe. They are equally beautiful, in my opinion, but quite different animals. Mechanically, they are similar. Same frame, same suspension, same engine/trans (for the most part). But they look different as night and day.
          I also have a 56 2 door wagon. It is, again, quite different than the other two cars, but mechanically very similar. I think that is one of the nice things about the cars. That you can cross mechanical parts from 1951 through 1966. That alone makes them easier than most for parts hunting. Its the shiny stuff that gets tricky.
          For example... I just pulled the 289 V8 and 4 speed out of a 61 Hawk, and it will bolt right into the 54 Coupe and look like it was born there.
          The Commanders and Lark type cars will be your cheapest and easiest to find. They can be made to be formidable speedsters, but will not compare to a modern high performance car. Computer controlled modern V8s are quite powerful these days.
          Good Luck. Do your homework on the body styles you like. Search on google for the different styles and you can see how varied the styling is. One of them will surely catch your eye.


          • #6
            Studies are very stylish!
            Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.


            • #7
              Welcome to the SDC Forum!

              Reading your post, I would recommend buying a car that is near done or done. This way you can enjoy it right away. There are always things to do.

              Join the Studebaker Drivers Club and you will learn of all the vendors and parts available. Many more common collector cars have fewer NOS parts available. Some of the top collector cars do have many reproduction parts available (like to build an entire car). There are Studebaker reproduction parts as well as NOS, but not to the extent of a Camaro, for instance.

              When you own a Studebaker, you will find that at most events you will have the only one and draw more attention than a line of Camaros or Mustangs.
              Being in Pittsburgh, check well for rust or hidden rust. I mostly buy collector cars from Texas, New Mexico, etc. I would rather pay shipping than deal with rust.
              Gary L.
              Wappinger, NY

              SDC member since 1968
              Studebaker enthusiast much longer


              • #8
                Hey Ash, Good advice there from Gary.
                Good Luck in your search.
                1960 Lark VIII Convertibe
                1964 Daytona *
                1956 Stude PU *
                1951 Stude PU *
                1963 Lark *
                1960 Lark Regal 4 door *
                *= previously owned.


                • #9
                  If you've ever been to a car show then you know they are typically about 75% what I call "FordRolets" and ChevroFords, i.e. the "usual supects. i hav a 56 Sky Hawk and I see people walk past he seemingly endless rows of tri-five Shlebbiess. Carvettes and Muststinks, etc, blah,blah yadda yadda been-there-done-that, and stopped in their tracks with cameras at the ready to fixate on my Gloriously Green goer. Last week I had it parked in front of a store and an otherwise sane-appearing man was looking at it and said, and I quote: "It isn't just gorgeous, it's breathaking." It's got a newly rebuilt Sudebaker, not Ford, 289, and it will go! I think cars like Firebirds are OK if you'r 19 and want to pretend you're Burt Reynolds with Sally Fields sitting next to you with adoring eyes, but for a real car lover, there's nothing like a Studie. Questions?
                  peter lee


                  • #10
                    Welcome Ash and thanks for asking about our cars. As many have said Studebakers are fun not only to drive but to let folks see. Most don't know much about them and then there are some who know lots about them. One of the best ways to learn about our cars are to talk to the folks who own them. In the Pittsburgh area there are many Studebaker owners and a local SDC Chapter. Please join the SDC receive our award winning monthly magazine and you first year membership is only $24.00. Consider that the subscription cost of the magazine and get the Club for free. If you'd like the names of some local SDC members near you, PM me and I'll be happy to give them to you. As for parts, we have over 200 vendors and many NOS parts for just about any thing you might need. Got more questions? My email is available on the club's website.

                    Don Jones
                    sigpicSee you in the future as I write about our past


                    • #11
                      Studebaker are fun. The biggest kick I get is all the people that come up and ask about them. I think it is because they are different. A Lark or Hawk with a Supercharger will definitely get people’s attention. They drive and handle pretty much like every other car from the 50’s and 60’s. As for fixing them up, some things are fairly expensive and some things are dirt cheap. I would say that a Lark or Commander would cost less than a big three muscle car to restore. I might be wrong about that maybe others have experience in that area
                      1962 Champ

                      51 Commander 4 door


                      • #12
                        One piece of Advice. Buy as Rust Free and already Painted up. With pictures of the process if possible. Finding a Body shop to work over a restoration project is daunting in itself, and if you have mucho rusto, you've got real trouble. I've done 1 studebaker truck from the ground up, and got half-way thru the second before I stalled as no body shop will touch it, even after it's been removed from the frame, blasted, new metal welded in. I've not thrown any mud on, it's just in Epoxy. anyone who will touch it wants to start at $10k with an open wallet. Krazy... My name is not Barrett, or Jackson!!!!!

                        As for drive train, that's up to you. I'll not get into that. I'm mostly factory myself, but anything goes. I've seen everything from bone stock to LS conversions, to studebaker sitting on either an S10 or Dakota frame. If I were to make a daily driver again, it would be a R series truck on a Dakota frame and a v8.

                        Seriously, do not buy thinking that someday you will make a profit. It's for fun. Studebakers are different and will garner much attention. I'll pass 3 Novas, 2 mustangs, a hundred corvettes, just to look at a studebaker.


                        • #13
                          Definitely buy the best car you can for the price you can afford, preferably ready to enjoy.

                          Studebakers themselves are well-built cars, and the parts are reasonably priced still because there are so many interchangeable parts. Easy maintenance. I am going to be changing a water pump today - 4 bolts, about an hour.

                          Definitely join the club first to get a sense of the people, cars available, and get advice before spending money. Turning Wheels magazine, this website, and current members are probably the best source of information.

                          Above all, have fun and make sure your family is involved.


                          • #14
                            Ditto to all of the above about buying the best, rust free car you can afford. And if you find a very nice 6 cylinder car, a V8 will drop in very easily.


                            • #15
                              I like the idea of restoring a car, but I have a feeling that my lack of knowledge, and the likely ballooning budget would be frustrating and diminish the joy of owning a Studebaker.

                              I think the idea of joining the SDC is wise as well. So that is something that I will pursue.

                              Thank you all for your insights and I welcome any additional thoughts.