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What can 18 years of poor storage do? I'll show you (1953 LandCruiser)

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  • What can 18 years of poor storage do? I'll show you (1953 LandCruiser)

    Back in 1971/72/73, my Uncle was told that there was a pretty nice Studebaker for sale in a town thirty or so miles away. What he found was a 1953 LandCruiser in Nocturne Blue and grey nylon interior. Radio, anti-creep, automatic transmission and climitizer were on the options list. The odometer showed something like 48K and everything looked like new - chrome was even amazingly nice - had never been out of a garage for an evening. Glove box had every piece of information from the dealer, including the sleeve which slipped over the sun visor telling the driver how the automatic transmission worked. These three are all that is left.

    It was taken to the East Texas Regional Meet in Houston in 1974 and the International meet in Dallas in 1975 - only two times it spent the night outside the whole time my Uncle owned it.

    These photos are from around 1995 when it was still being driven to local shows and the odometer had climbed to about 50K miles. Only places that showed any real wear was the paint on the deck lid - was getting thin.

    The local small town festival had a parade every June, and when finished, the participants could park their vehicles on the main street. This is from @ 1998.

    A SDC chapter meeting in 2000 with my father's first car attending - same blue.

    In 2001, my Uncle was ill and in need of money, so a good friend agreed to buy the car. It was loaded on a trailer and taken to his home in Houston - and never driven again. It sat outside for a couple years and then a local Studebaker person moved it to his lot where it sat under an awning until November 1st of this year.

    In that time, the truck leaked and the original woven mat turned to mush, both the right doors (side facing the weather under the awning) are rusted out at the bottom. The original jack that had never been on the ground was gone.

    The floor board on the passenger side front is soft to the touch - that window was rolled down about an inch - pine needles and other leaves were inside the car. All the door handle push buttons were rusted to where they would not push in or were stuck in. All the window regulators are rusted and will not roll down as well as all four pivoting vent windows. Only one original wheel was still with the car - they all had the same factory letters written on them (think it was XM) in yellow. Because of a dispute between the two parties, parts had been removed to help pay for storage. It is essentially a parts car at this point. Family member are going to pull the motor and tranny and other items that might be usable - the rest will be parted out or sold as a whole.

    The buyer phoned me in the spring and said the car would never sell and simply gave it back to the family. Was told the title for the vehicle was in the glove box. The little metal band that keeps the glove box door from traveling too far was swollen with rust and I had to pry open the door with a screw driver - title was no where to be found - sealed its fate.

    Can remember sitting in the car when I was probably 10 years old and being amazed at how nice it was. When it was going to shows in the 90s, I probably put 500 miles on it and it was a nice road car - zero rattles and steering and all else were really tight. I knew it was not going to look good before I saw it, but it was hard to see and leaves a lump in my throat every time I see it now - knowing it could still be as nice as it was when my Uncle last saw it in 2001, the year before he passed. As a good Studebaker friend likes to say - the parts will go to make sure another Studebaker will see another day.

    Last edited by 62champ; 11-18-2020, 05:53 PM.

  • #2
    An unfortunately common story.
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    '33 Rockne 10,
    '51 Commander Starlight,
    '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
    '56 Sky Hawk


    • #3
      That is just... sad. Some people have no business buying nice cars.


      • #4
        Originally posted by mbstude View Post
        That is just... sad. Some people have no business buying nice cars.
        I think if my Uncle would have known what would happen to the car, he would have never sold it.


        • #5
          An early -53 LC isn't the most usual car even as a Studebaker, I've seen worse & more common cars saved & I can't understand why it's going to be parted out. Even if someone would put some tuck'n roll interior in it & so on, it's still a -53 Land Cruiser with the star to boot!
          Someboby should save it.
          I for sure would if I lived closer.

          Champion V8
          4d sedan


          • #6
            I agree - very desirable car. I'm a C/K & Avanti man, but I would take that car in a minute (if I could).


            • #7
              Madness utter madness ?


              • #8
                I know if you could save it you would if only to keep it in the family again. Houston was not very kind to it as well as time. I know you will do your best but perhaps it may be a donor so other Studes can be kept on the road.
                Rob in PA.


                • #9
                  Many cars far worse than that have been restored.
                  Bill Jarvis


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Greenstude View Post
                    Many cars far worse than that have been restored.
                    That is what I was thinking. If it was a Starliner (K body), there would be no question about saving it. To me, it just looks like it needs a paint job (I do not see rust through) and the interior may clean up enough to be serviceable.
                    Gary L.
                    Wappinger, NY

                    SDC member since 1968
                    Studebaker enthusiast much longer


                    • #11
                      If it was a Starliner (K body), there would be no question about saving it.
                      If you compare it to what my '53 K looked like when I got it, this LC would be a #1 show car!

                      Jeff in ND


                      • #12
                        You have history with it. Fix it and enjoy it.


                        • #13
                          I see stories like this literally every week. As much as I love old cars it's the toughest part of my business.

                          The first problem is that most people think that cars are somehow impervious to any elements. I consult with people frequently who aren't necessarily 'car people' but want to diversify their portfolios with investment cars. I always advocate it and can advise on what I feel will be good for investment purposes; but I always go over the ongoing, sometimes rigorous process required to properly store and maintain a classic automobile. In most cases they are completely shocked as to how involved the process is. Some take my advice, and some poo-poo it. I know of expensive cars right now that are shoved in barns or stored outside with covers- both of which are bad for the cars. I can't help but try to rescue them before they are ruined, sometimes to the anger or indignance of the owner. I don't care. I do what I can, and mourn what I can't.

                          Another common occurrence: I am offered a car that has gone into storage as quality piece, then ignored. I get pictures of a lovely car that were "just taken" "last spring". Then I make a trip to see the car and it is in far worse condition than represented. When this is pointed out they are frequently shocked that their memory does not match the reality. Some I get to bring back to the shop and rescue from the brink. Most remain saddled with unrealistic price tags and continue to rot. Sometimes I hear back months or years later from the owner's estate who now just want that 'old car you looked at' gone... and too often by then it is too far gone to save.

                          I have devoted whatever years I have left trying to rescue as many as I can; especially less than blue chip investment cars. It's not exactly a way to riches. And I have to make a profit on at least most of them so that I can keep going. It's a difficult tightrope walk. Regarding the subject car, I am amazed at the number of folks who say to do a $50K restoration on a car that will not pull $20K when done. I know guys who are that altruistic; but they only do the more popular cars. There is always plenty of audience that says they "would" "if only Xxxx". It's easy to tell others what they *should* do with a car... not so easy to be the one rolling up the sleeves and opening the bank account. Facebook friends get to see the kind of foolish cars I revive just because I feel love for them. Meanwhile I buy and sell higher dollar cars that I could never afford to keep for myself hoping to fund more Ramblers and 4 door Buicks and Studebakers. It's a challenging life, but I love it... It's just hard to see the ones I'd like to save but I can't.

                          Sorry this went so long, I let my lunch get cold to ramble on. Here's hoping the subject car can at least donate to help others. I feel your disappointment.
                          Proud NON-CASO

                          I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

                          If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth - let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

                          GOD BLESS AMERICA

                          Ephesians 6:10-17
                          Romans 15:13
                          Deuteronomy 31:6
                          Proverbs 28:1

                          Illegitimi non carborundum


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
                            I agree - very desirable car. I'm a C/K & Avanti man, but I would take that car in a minute (if I could).
                            The 120"wb sedans look far better proportioned than the 116" wb sedans from 1953-'55 IMHO, and agree with others, that it should be saved.



                            • #15
                              I get pictures of a lovely car that were "just taken" "last spring". Then I make a trip to see the car and it is in far worse condition than represented.
                              It does not take long....

                              Back in the mid 90s, a coworker acquired a 1984 Ford Mustang "SVO". A fairly rare sub-model. He got it for cheap with a bad rear end. Low mileage. This SVO was in pretty decent shape otherwise and needed some mechanical repairs. My friend was a car person and did what was needed. One of the things he did was a good engine compartment cleaning with "simple green". Spent hours scrubbing underhood.

                              So, for the winter (this was in Minnesota), he found a unheated building to put it in (concrete floor). I remember being there the next spring when he popped the hood to put the battery in... Holy cow! All the aluminum surfaces were totally crusted with white corrosion like it was dipped in salt or something.

                              I think it would have been better off if not cleaned and with whatever oily grease residue instead.

                              Humidity really matters after its not outside. On the farm, Dad used to put diesel in a hand pump sprayer and wash down farm machinery that had to set outside over the winter. Helped a lot for paint and surface rusting. Not something you would do with a car really unless a parts car you were trying to preserve.

                              Jeff in ND