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It's been too long... Time to get a Stude back on the road.

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  • It's been too long... Time to get a Stude back on the road.

    I bought my F150 in late March of this year, and at the same time retired my '58 Commander from being driven. Driving it everyday was taking its toll on the car and the transmission was slipping so badly that it made me cringe. First I parked the car in the very back of my yard; out of sight and out of mine. Then I decided to sell it.. So I trailered it to my granddad's shop, got it running enough to drive onto a trailer, and forgot about the old car again.

    The car has been sitting outside at my granddad's shop for months now, waiting for me to decide what I want to do with it. The paint was oxidizing badly and the thought of the car going further downhill wasn't a happy one. I kept telling myself that the car is for sale but whenever that opportunity arose, I found some excuse to keep the car. It may not be a desirable Golden Hawk, but it is a goofy, unrestored Studebaker and the first car I ever bought with my own money. And I'm the second registered owner. The car took me all over the Southeast last year and lots of memories were made.

    So.. Yesterday I cleaned out my barn, went to the shop, got the car running, drove it on the trailer and pulled it across town to my house. Drove it off the trailer, into the barn, and called it a day. This morning I got up at 7 AM like I always do and walked out to the barn and polished stainless until lunch. Every time I walked over to the buffer, through the door way, there sat the '58... After lunch I backed the car out, polished out the paint and drove it around the neighborhood, making a mental list of things that it needs. A trans rebuild is foremost and the brakes need some attention. Lots of goofy things to keep me busy for quite a while. I'm leaving the paint just as it is, as they're only original once and I love the "patina" that is all over the car. Plus the factory paint runs are a sure way to make me laugh every time I see them. But I do want to replace the front and rear window gaskets, replace the door window "fuzzies", and redo the whole interior. The door panels, headliner, and seats all need to be redone and it needs sound-deadener and carpeting. Heck, I might even redo all the stainless. I'll plug away little by little and do a couple of things when I get the extra cash or motivation. No need to rush.. The car doesn't eat anything and it's under a roof now, out of the weather. I've found that having to walk by the car countless times a day is great motivation to want to work on it.

    And this photo is a pretty good description of why I call her "Christine"... Menacing, eh?

    Last edited by mbstude; 11-01-2010, 05:15 PM.

  • #2
    Matt, now you're talking! I really like the car,you need to keep it on the road and use it.( you could even make up magnetic signs for the front doors) you know,for your stainless business!!! speaking of wich I got sidetracked about some stainless I have that I'd like to make a sweet deal with you on,and maybe could meet up at York next March? also Matt if you could email me (jzeiger3@yahoo.com) with your phone #, I'd like to talk to you more on it,and some questions about your c-cab (orange crate) brake job!
    Joseph R. Zeiger

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    • #3
      Hey Joe. My number is 912 253 3037. Call anytime. If I don't answer, leave a message and I'll be sure to get back with you.

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      • #4
        At least you didn't leave it sitting for 16 years like I did the '60 Lark. You might look for a spare tranny to bolt in while you learn how to rebuild the one that is in it. That way you could keep exercising the car while you fixed the original one.

        In defense of all of us...I have always said that it is hard to earn a living and play too!
        John Clary
        Greer, SC

        SDC member since 1975

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        • #5
          Matthew,

          Other than slipping, what other symptoms that make you think the tranny needs a "rebuild" instead of a real good fluid flush & fill, appropriate band adjustments, and mabe a can of additive?? Just inquiring minds would like to know. Those old trannys can really take some abuse and still be made to preform like new. Worse case mabe a good used one would be cheaper than the "major overhaul" you speak of.

          Dan Miller
          Auburn, GA

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          • #6
            Hey Dan. Hope you and Barbara are doing well and fully recovered from the Zone Meet. The only symptom the FOM has is slipping when upshifting, and it slips worse if I try to kick it down into 'passing gear'. Of course, before I have it rebuilt I will do a fluid/filter change and adjust everything. I am just preparing myself for a rebuild as I have a friend who can do the job inexpensively (and he has done several), and "rebuilt" would give me greater peace of mind. (I think I may know what "killed" the tranny, and who knows if it's salvageable. About a year ago, I was driving the car and a bearing in the generator came apart. The vibration was so bad that I thought it was the transmission, as it was most "violent" at the trans hump. I poured in quite a bit of "trans rebuild in a can" stuff, only to find out that it was the generator making the driveline vibrate. I never did drain and flush all of that crap out of the transmission and I'm sure that it was my stupidity that "did it in".)

            Hey John. I have a spare tranny, but its condition is unknown. When it comes time to have the trans redone, I'll more then likely pull the engine/trans as a unit. This will give me the opportunity to detail the engine bay, and reseal the engine. Every gasket that's on the 259 leaks badly and the engine is covered with a thick coating of grease. (Recently I helped a friend completely reseal a 289 V8 and a Flite-O-Matic, and that is something that I could easily do myself. But I'll leave the trans rebuild to the pros.) Then I'll reinstall the driveline, get it running right and proceed to do the window gasket replacement and new interior. Mechanical stuff will come first because a car isn't much fun if it doesn't drive right, no matter how good it looks.

            Other random words:
            A couple of things that I learned with my aborted '63 Lark project that will help me on the '58:

            -First, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started on that one. That car was way beyond my abilities; mentally and financially.

            -Start with a decent, unmolested car to begin with that doesn't need EVERYthing, unless you're into that sorta thing. (Which I am not). I bought this '58 for less than $1K and it's about as solid and original as one would hope to find. No bondo, no fiberglass floors, just a nice untouched car.

            -Don't take off every bolt at once. Only fix one "section" of the car at a time and make small projects instead of just one huge one. There's no sense of accomplishment when you fix one little thing, and you look over the car and see that everything else still needs to be done. (For example: I spent days welding in a new trunk floor in that Lark.. Everything looked and fit great.. Then I looked at how every other part on the car needed to be redone and I walked away from it. In my mind, I simply wasn't making progress and I really was in way over my head.)

            Of course, I still have my '59 truck project, and somewhere down the line it will get finished as well. But I'm still young and single and I see no reason to rush it. The only other Stude I'll let myself own is a prewar car. But aside from that.. I have all the Studebakers (2 of 'em) that I want.
            Last edited by mbstude; 11-01-2010, 09:56 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ROADRACELARK View Post
              Matthew,

              Other than slipping, what other symptoms that make you think the tranny needs a "rebuild" instead of a real good fluid flush & fill, appropriate band adjustments, and mabe a can of additive?? Just inquiring minds would like to know. Those old trannys can really take some abuse and still be made to preform like new. Worse case mabe a good used one would be cheaper than the "major overhaul" you speak of.

              Dan Miller
              Auburn, GA
              Great point Dan, When I pulled the Lark out of the barn, it had leaked down so bad that it took over 3 quarts of fluid to bring the transmission back to shifting crisply. Make sure to follow the correct procedure for checking the level. The '51 Land Cruiser requires the fluid to be checked while "in gear." and the Lark when in park. Both of mine leak a little but shift just fine if the fluid level is correct.
              John Clary
              Greer, SC

              SDC member since 1975

              Comment


              • #8
                Glad to hear you decided to keep it. I know all about "goofy" cars that usually only the owner can love. My '59 will involve a lot of work that anyone else would say is ridiculous on a car that can be replaced with a nice example for much less money.

                The only problem with that logic is that these are our first cars and no amount of money savings will put that original car back in the driveway when it's gone for good. When you're an "old" guy like me, you'll be glad the '58 is still around.
                Skinny___'59 Lark VIII Regal____'60 Lark Marshal___

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                • #9
                  Glad to hear this Matthew. I was starting to worry a little. I like the decisions on what things to repair, redo, overhaul
                  etc. It should make a great DRIVER.

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                  • #10
                    Skinny I'm already glad that that nobody stepped up to buy Christine. I'm a selfish guy and want to keep all the good girls to myself. <grin>

                    Originally posted by Flashback View Post
                    Glad to hear this Matthew. I was starting to worry a little. I like the decisions on what things to repair, redo, overhaul
                    etc. It should make a great DRIVER.
                    Thanks Tex. That's the goal!

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                    • #11
                      Interesting points all, Matthew.

                      A consideration: If you keep this car for a long time (and why not?), the provenance will be one thing you could not buy years from now, and you'll be glad you have it.

                      You are the second registered owner of a car that is 52 years old, and that's right now! Do you have any idea how rare that is? It's very rare, for sure. Say you keep the car another 48 years...hard to imagine, I'll admit, but not at all impossible. At that point in time, you'll be the second owner of a car that is 100 years old and you'll be, what, 70 years old?

                      Stay with me, here, in that you are now on the Board of Directors of The Antique Studebaker Club, certainly a prestigious position.

                      How would you like to attend the ASC National Meet in Springfield next year and encounter a gentleman with a 1911 model Studebaker motor vehicle (i.e., 100 years old) and learn from him that not only was he the second owner, but he had owned most of its life? That would be pretty cool, wouldn't it?

                      Given your age and the age of the Commander, such a scenario is not at all impossible...your being 70 years old and displaying a car 100 years old that you have owned most of its life, from the original owner, at that time. That's a story and provenance no millionaire taking his trophy girl friend to Barrett-Jackson could buy with all the money in the world.

                      Or to frame it in a more easily-understood situation: Although suffering a bit worse for wear, The Chicken Hawk is now 58 years old. It is owned by 75-year-old Ted Harbit, who, in just a couple months, will have owned it a full 50 years...and he's only 17 years older than the car!

                      Think about it. Seriously. Provenance is the only part of this hobby you cannot buy no matter how much money you have. And for that reason, it is one of the "neater" parts of our infatutation.

                      So keep the old '58 up and running and as original as possible....and keep it! It need not be restored to be appreciated...in fact, given its condition, I'll venture to say most of today's hobbyists would rather see it nicely-preserved in its present state, than being restored.

                      In my never-so-humble opinion, of course. BP
                      We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                      Ayn Rand:
                      "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                      G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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                      • #12
                        Bob, I do'nt know how long it took you to write that up? but it's kind of a real tear jerker for sure!
                        Joseph R. Zeiger

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                        • #13
                          BP, that's a VERY good point indeed. I hadn't thought of that. I did know that it was pretty cool being the second owner of a '58 model car and being only 20 myself, but I hadn't looked at it in the future like that. Cool! Definitely more reason to hang onto the old girl.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 63t-cab View Post
                            Bob, I do'nt know how long it took you to write that up? but it's kind of a real tear jerker for sure!
                            'Not all that long, Joe...but maybe it will save Matthew joining the rest of us in 40 years, saying, "Gee, I wish I had never sold that nice, mostly original 1958 Commander." Every single person on the forum over maybe 40 years old has at least one story of a car they genuinely wish they had never sold.

                            (From a personal standpoint, I know one of the more enjoyable aspects of owning my original-paint, unrestored 17,000-mile 1973 Mustang convertible is the fact it was three years old, and I was 29, when I bought it....and watched it turn 17,000 miles as I drove it home that cold day in January 1976. The odometer now is 17,862, IIRC, and it is still on all four production-line tires!)

                            Now, at age 64 (65 in three months), I'm glad I passed on more than one opportunity to sell the Mustang through the years, and I realize that is not a "feeling" you can acquire in any other way than just plain not selling a car you really enjoy.

                            'Talk to any hobbyist who has owned the same car or truck for 30, 40, or 50 years and the vast majority will say the same thing, "I'm sure glad I didn't sell it when I had the chance...or that time XX years ago when I thought I needed the money more than the car, but figured out how to keep the car when I was in a tight spot."

                            'Hope I conveyed that to young Matt, because he and other really young guys on the forum are being given golden opportunities to start right now. BP
                            We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                            Ayn Rand:
                            "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                            G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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                            • #15
                              Bob, you're not helping..... Me! I'll never talk Matt in selling me the orange create now. (BIG GRIN)

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