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  • 10 Significant Studebakers for 10K Posts

    If all goes as planned, this will be yours truly's 10,000th Post to The Studebaker Drivers Club Forum. I noticed it creeping up about a month ago and have been paying attention since, just for fun.

    Coincidentally, next month will mark the 50th Anniversary of attaining my Drivers License so I could legally drive Studebakers...and anything else, for that matter.

    The operative word is TEN, so to celebrate the occasion, I thought I'd reflect on The Ten Most Significant Studebakers in my life BEFORE I HAD A DRIVERS LICENSE! In fact, most of the ten had come and gone before I turned 16, although one of them survived the 16th birthday and became the Studebaker I most drove in high school.

    Before we get started, Honorable Mention goes to the First Studebaker I ever remember, period. Honorable mention because I never saw the whole car(!), never sat in it, and never rode in it!

    That would be Grandfather "Jedda" Palma's mid-1930s Studebaker coupe of some sort, IIRC. I probably saw it in 1950 or 1951 at age 4 or 5 when visiting the family farm in North Judson IN. It was tucked in a "Model T" garage, such as they were at the time, and all I ever saw was the tail of it sticking out the back of the garage. It seemed too long for the garage. It was dirty and painted a horrid green with a brush, as legend had it.

    Other than walking by Jedda's old car and seeing it there, I have no further memory of it. Cousin George Krem, being four years older than me, doubtlessly has better memories of the car and may post to this thread as he sees fit.

    So to celebrate "Ten on Ten Thousand," please pull up a chair and a cup of java or brewski and join me in a trip down Pre-Sixteen Studebaker Memory Lane:

    Studebaker #1 was a direct result of this conglomerate merger on June 1, 1955:



    That is self-explanatory and resulted in my father and his brother Milton doing their own little kind of OSD (Occupy Studebaker Dealer) when they joined Studebaker dealer Harry Rhoads in this building:



    The above photo was taken in late 1953 or 1954, when Harry Rhoads' Studebaker dealership was known as Paris Sales Company. The name changed to Palma-Rhoads Motors on June 1, 1955.

    They moved from this building to join Harry Rhoads:



    Joining Harry Rhoads accomplished at least five things, all of them good:

    1. Harry didn't need all the space he had, and couldn't afford it.

    2. Harry needed operating capital. 1953 and 1954 had been tough years on any Studebaker dealer despite the product's beauty, and a small-town dealer could be hit pretty hard.

    3. It moved them to a busier street, Central Avenue.

    4. It allowed them to have the used car lot right next to the building, as opposed to their previous satellite locations a couple miles away that had always presented their own problems.

    5. It gave Dad and Uncle Milt about three times as much square footage, which they needed.

    And it also furnished me with Significant Studebaker #1 of 10:

    1. A brand-new, lemon-lime 1955 Speedster. The Studebaker "road man" brought the car by in late June or early July and parked it right out front, below the above showroom window where it says Paris Sales Company in the first photo. I was 9 years old at the time. I was invited to go along on a ride! Uncle Milt drove; Dad rode "shotgun." I hopped in the back seat right behind Uncle Milt. The Studebaker road man, of which I have no memory compared to that cool Speedster, sat in the other side of the back seat.

    We charged up Illinois Route 1 north out of Paris as chronicled on Page 32 of the March 1995 Turning Wheels.

    2. Studebaker #2 was this one:



    As you can see, it is a rather loaded 1956 President 2-door; black with white side spear and white halos around the side windows. I remember this car because it was the 1956 Studebaker displayed on the showroom floor the day the 1956 Studebakers were introduced, whatever day that was. (Note that it was Body #51, certainly an early '56!)

    Note the Salesman's initials: LSP. That indicates it was my father who actually sold the car to Mr. Fechtig.

    It was the same as the 1956 non-Hawk brochure catalog car, save the front bumper guards:



    The showroom below those letters Paris Sales Company (by then gone, of course, due to the name change) was really only big enough for one car, but you could squeeze two in and it wasn't terrible. This President was on the south side of the showroom and I remember sitting in it, still age 9, running the 2-way power seat back and forth until, for some reason, it started going slower and s-l-o-w-e-r. Hmmmm....

    Oh, and the car displayed next to the President was a 1956 Nash Statesman 4-door. Needless to say, I recall little of it.

    3. Studebaker #3 was this famous 1956 Golden Hawk:



    I redacted the key numbers because this car is accounted for, fully restored to an SDC First Place at the 2002 South Bend International Meet, and owned by Idaho SDC Member Pat Doherty.

    I remember this car when it was brand new, sitting in the Service Department at Palma-Rhoads Motors awaiting delivery. I remember taking in the wonderful smell of the new red leather with which it was equipped while I was sitting in it in late March, 1956. By then, I was ten years old.

    A complete report of this car is on Page 14 of the November 2002 Turning Wheels.

    (No more pictures from here on out, I'm sorry to say.)

    4. Studebaker #4 would be our family's turquoise and white 1957 Commander DeLuxe 4-door sedan. We moved from Paris back to Oak Park IL for about nine months (it's a long story) from fall 1958 through summer 1959. I turned 13 years old while we lived there.

    While living in Oak Park in the winter of 1958 into 1959, Dad decided we needed a better car than the 1953 DeSoto Firedome (yes, "it had a hemi"); the family ride we brought up from Paris, so we went car shopping. I accompanied Dad to at least a dozen dealerships in Chicago and the western suburbs, looking at cars.

    We wound up at Gorman Studebaker in Oak Park, where I got to look over the new 1959 Larks on the showroom floor while Dad traded the DeSoto toward this nice, two-year old, two-tone Commander with Flightomatic. When we moved back to Paris the following summer, I looked at the back end of that '57 all down the eastern edge of Illinois because I rode with Dad in our second car, a 1951 Kaiser 2-door, while Mom drove the Commander in front of us with my two younger brothers in it.

    5. Studebaker #5 would be a family treasure, the 1957 Silver Hawk V8 with overdrive my Dad's youngest brother, Jerry, bought new in LaPorte IN in 1957. When Jerry went in the Army, I was 14 and the car was left with my Dad for care and feeding. Dad took me out on the back roads around Paris and essentially taught me how to drive in Jerry's Hawk...and, somehow, the clutch survived.

    The complete story, with period photos of Jerry and his new car, is on Page 11 of the August 1998 Turning Wheels.

    6. Studebaker #6 would be the only bullet-nose-era Studebaker with which I would ever flirt; a reasonably-nice, aqua, 1952 Commander Starlight Coupe with overdrive, circa 1960. At the time, I was still 14 and had a morning Chicago Daily News newspaper route in Paris.

    For weeks, my return home from the end of my route took me past a vacant lot on North Main Street in Paris. On that lot sat this decent Commander Starlight for sale; $75! Every day for weeks, I'd stop and look at it in the early-morning mist, and get in it and play with the controls, since it was unlocked. But $75 might as well have been $7,500, and I was two years away from having a drivers license, so all I could do was dream.

    'Neat old car, though...and then, one morning, my lust turned to dust: It was gone.

    7. Studebaker #7 would be the most famous one of these top ten, and the one that survived my early, legal driving: The family's 1957 President 2-door sedan in Coppertone with White quarter-panel coves. A pretty car with no radio...but a 4-barrel carb (optional on non-Classic 1957 Presidents) and Flightomatic.

    I was with Dad in mid-March 1960 (just turned 14), when he went across the state line from Paris IL to Terre Haute IN, to trade the 1957 Commander toward a couple cars he decided we needed. He still knew some dealer buddies from "the business." I would later understand why we went out to a farm south of Terre Haute to look at a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer's inventory on the grass, hidden behind a barn!

    That didn't make any sense until I learned later in life that Indiana automobile dealers were taxed on their inventory in stock on March 1 of each year. Hence, it behooved a dealer to hide everything somewhere, anywhere, off the premises while "the count" was tallied for The Tax Man.

    Anyway, we returned to Paris with a medium-green 1959 Chrysler New Yorker 4-door sedan for Dad to drive...and since his buddy had made him such a good deal on this decent, 3-year-old Studebaker President 2-door, Dad bought it, too!

    The President would serve us well and even accompanied us on our move to Indianapolis in July 1962. By that time, I had my legal drivers license and drove the President 2-door quite a bit. I think Dad became suspicious of how enthusiastically I was driving it, so one day I came home from high school in Indianapolis and it had been sold. Phooey. I really liked that President.

    We published a fuzzy 1963 photo of me and that '57 as a Co-Operator masthead photo in Turning Wheels many years ago, but I can't remember which one right now, nor can I locate the photo here to reproduce. Sorry.

    8. Studebaker #8 drove me nuts in spring 1961; a brand-new, bright red, 1961 Lark DeLuxe 2-door with V8 and overdrive! We still lived in Paris, but there was no longer a Studebaker dealer in Paris because Harry Rhoads went out of business in June, 1960.

    Rather, this new Lark was sitting on the showroom floor of Johnny Moore Studebaker in Terre Haute. Dad was tired of the 1959 Chrysler New Yorker after one year, so he and I had returned to Terre Haute to shop for yet another family car! Johnny Moore Studebaker was just a couple doors down from the Buick dealer in Terre Haute, where dad had stopped to see the old dealer friend who owned the Buick store.

    Dad and I wandered down to Johnny Moore to see what used cars he might have and There It Was: That new Lark V8 2-door with overdrive right on the showroom floor! I drooled to the point of dehydration and all but got on my knees begging Dad to buy it, promising everything short of my left n*t if he would just buy that cool Lark! Cousin George would be soooo jealous! <GGG>

    Well, anyway, that is when Dad uttered one of his two famous quotes I carry with me today: "Bob, I was a missionary long enough." As I figured out on my own, that meant he had promoted and sold the independents long enough in the 1950s, and did not consider it necessary to keep carrying that torch.

    We went back to the Buick dealer and traded the 1959 Chrysler toward a white 1958 Cadillac DeVille convertible with black top, red interior, and factory air conditioning! Man, was that weird, I thought; an air-conditioned convertible! Who would ever do anything so stupid as to have an air-conditioned convertible!

    Well, ignorance is bliss...and I had to wave good-bye to the new, red 1961 Lark DeLuxe V8 2-door with overdrive in the window of Johnny Moore as we headed back west to Paris.

    9. Studebakers #9 (and 10) take us north of Paris to my #1 accomplice in All Things Studebaker, my older cousin George D. Krem. George is best known to most of you as the original owner of The Plain Brown Wrapper; his 1964 R3 Challenger 2-door. But that was after I was 16 years old, and this discussion is confined to pre-drivers-license puberty.

    Anyway, in the years immediately before I turned 16, George had as his own personal car, a 1954 Commander DeLuxe Coupe with overdrive. It was light green with a dark green roof; a very nice car he drove back and forth from Roselle IL to Wheaton and Wheaton College. When I visited George many summers for a week or two, we might take his '54 out and about.

    But more likely, we would take:

    10. Studebaker #10. This was one of my favorite Studebakers before age 16, a car that George's father, George Krem, ordered new in the spring of 1960:

    A cute-as-a-button 1960 Lark 2-door sedan in Colonial Red with Power Kit 259 and straight three-speed! Man, that thing was almost as fast as I think it was. George and I spent hours in and around that car, his tearing up the streets around the far western Chicago suburbs while I wished I was old enough to drive...but I don't ever remember running into Forum Member Jeff Rice, who lived in Roselle's neighboring town of Itasca with the 1961 Hawk his father bought new.

    Well, that reviews my whole Studebaker life before I got my drivers license!

    If I get to 20,000 Forum Posts, maybe we'll pick up from age 16 forward.

    'Hope everyone who got this far found this an entertaining 10 for 10,000 review.

    Onward. BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 01-20-2012, 10:34 AM. Reason: spelling, added 1956 President brochure car
    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.

  • #2
    Very nice memories, BP. Thanks for sharing!
    1957 Studebaker Champion 2 door. Staten Island, New York.

    "Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think." -Albert Einstein

    Comment


    • #3
      The 56 Studebakers was introduced November 22 1955. And I will take the Rambler Cross Country parked next to the building.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ST2DE5 View Post
        The 56 Studebakers was introduced November 22 1955. And I will take the Rambler Cross Country parked next to the building.
        Thanks, Carl.

        If we still had the Cross Country, I'd be glad to entertain selling it...but wouldn't you rather have The Pace Car at the 1955 Edgar County Fair:




        <GGG> BP
        Last edited by BobPalma; 01-19-2012, 12:15 PM.
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Congratulations Bob. For once...being called a "Motor-mouth" can be considered a compliment.(Pun intended!)

          For me, your posts have been informative and entertaining. This thread is a good example. Keep 'em coming!
          John Clary
          Greer, SC

          SDC member since 1975

          Comment


          • #6
            Congrats on your 10,000th, Bob!!. I always enjoy your posts and this "commemorative" one is icing on the cake! Looking forward to many, many more "cool beans"!

            BTW, the first Studey I ever bought was a '57 Commander Deluxe 4dr, 259 w/FOM, in Glendale Green and Artic White, which seems much like your #4. However, mine was a $50.00 car that you could literally hear shedding rust flakes onto the driveway if you shut the door too indelicately!

            And BTW, where's that '51 Kaiser 2dr today? Carl can have the Rambler - I'd like the Kaiser with full wheel covers and wide whitewalls!

            All the best.
            Roger Hill


            60 Lark Vlll, hardtop, black/red, Power Kit, 3 spd. - "Juliette"
            61 Champ Deluxe, 6, black/red, o/d, long box. - "Jeri"
            Junior Wagon - "Junior"

            "In the end, dear undertaker,
            Ride me in a Studebaker"

            Comment


            • #7
              BP This the one I always wanted. He won't sell and I can't afford to buy

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by STEWDI View Post
                Congrats on your 10,000th, Bob!!. I always enjoy your posts and this "commemorative" one is icing on the cake! Looking forward to many, many more "cool beans"!

                And BTW, where's that '51 Kaiser 2dr today? Carl can have the Rambler - I'd like the Kaiser with full wheel covers and wide whitewalls!

                All the best.
                Thanks, Roger.

                Hey, if you'da said something, I'da bought you some chances on the 2011 Newport Indiana Antique Auto Hill Climb Raffle Car. It was a dead twin to the car we had in 1959. I couldn't believe it:

                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I sometimes wonder why people who like (love) Studebaker vehicles , seem to be partial
                  to a bunch of the other 'Independent' marques , then I stop wondering and remember
                  with great fondness some of the non - Studebaker vehicles that I have owned .

                  1947 Frazer Manhattan Sedan . That was some car , which I owned for three years ,
                  finishing off a restoration that was over half way through when I started . This was
                  back in the early Eighties and when I finally got it on the road , I really enjoyed it .
                  It was one of only three or four that somehow made their way to Australia as new cars.
                  It was painted Gunmetal Grey Metallic and had a mid blue and biege cloth interior .

                  1954 Hudson Super Wasp Sedan . I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this
                  car which I purchased as the third owner back in the early Eighties . The car had been
                  purchased new by a local gentleman and both he and the second owner really had
                  looked after it to the extent that all I had to do was maintain it and drive it . And it was
                  a great drivers car . Solid and reliable , it has jet Black paint with original green leather
                  interior and burgandy interior garnish molds , now in the hands of its fifth owner .

                  1972 AMC Javelin 401 Coupe . I still have this car which I bought off the umpteenth
                  owner in the early Nineties . It is a Big Bad Orange car with black and white vinyl interior.
                  It is number 34 of only 48 that were originally brought to Australia as CKD kits and sold
                  here in 1973 . I did some body and mechanical repairs and it now motors really strong.
                  The 401 has been rebuilt and the 727 is a great transmission . It's a keeper . !

                  To BOB PALMA : - Congratulations on your 10,000th Post . That story that you have set
                  out is really well done . Hope your Dad will get a chance to read it . You are really lucky
                  to have been brought up in an environment that involved exposure to so many really
                  interesting vehicles . Unfortunately , such was not the case for me . In the Fifties and
                  Sixties , Australia was a land populated by mostly British cars and the perenial Holden.
                  Oh sure , there were some American cars around , but they were few and far between .
                  The ones I remember from my youth were , a 1963 Chevrolet Stationwagon which was
                  used by a local builder as his work vehicle , a 1959 Buick flattop 4 door hardtop owned
                  by a local shopkeeper , a 1961 Lark Cruiser owned by a banker , a 1961 Pontiac which
                  I think was called a Laurentian owned by a guy who ran a pottery wholesaler . This guy
                  eventually traded that car on a 1968 Pontiac Parisienne which he bought new . And I do
                  also have a vivid memory of the 1954 Hudson Super Wasp which I eventually was able
                  to buy . The original owner , a Mr Mcgowan picked me up for a lift home from Primary
                  School on a stinking hot day , and then I was served ice cold home made Lemonade by
                  his Maid whilst his wife phoned my Mum to tell her where I was . Different times for sure
                  and just as I finish this , the Television news tells me that Kodak has just filed for its
                  Bankruptcy proving that indeed whilst life goes on , some things continue to fade away .

                  CRUISER
                  Last edited by cruiser; 01-19-2012, 10:48 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Great post Bob, enjoyed every word and walking thru the oldies. Congrats on your 10,000 post also.
                    101st Airborne Div. 326 Engineers Ft Campbell Ky.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What a great history, Bob, and best of all, that you are able to recall (and partially document!) it. I've said before, how bitterly I regret not being a picture taker as I was growing up. Alas, most of my memories live on only in my mind, and will be gone when I am.

                      Thank you for taking the time to craft and share this thread. Hoping for many, many more!



                      Special mention to Cruiser for sharing his history as well. I love history, especially where cars are involved
                      Proud NON-CASO

                      I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it 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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great post, Bob--thanks for sharing!

                        And I love the slogan at the bottom of the one ad..."For happy roads, see Palma-Rhoads!"
                        Bill Pressler
                        Kent, OH
                        (formerly Greenville, PA)
                        Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
                        Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
                        1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
                        1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
                        All are in Australia now

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          BP.. Was the '56 President two door the same one owned by the late Earl Drews (Nancy Bacon's father)? There couldn't have been too many black and white '56 President two doors in Indy. Last I heard, the car was in good hands in Washington state.

                          Very cool post.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mbstude View Post
                            BP.. Was the '56 President two door the same one owned by the late Earl Drews (Nancy Bacon's father)? There couldn't have been too many black and white '56 President two doors in Indy. Last I heard, the car was in good hands in Washington state. Very cool post.
                            Thanks, Matthew.

                            I doubt the 1956 President was the one owned by Earl Drews in Indianapolis. Remember, the one sold by Palma-Rhoads was sold in eastern Illinois, not Indiana. (However, it's barely 100 miles from Paris IL almost straight east to Indianapolis, so it is entirely possible.)

                            It would be easy to verify one way or another, though, because Nancy [Drews] Bacon will certainly remember if her father's '56 had a two-way power seat. There can't be but a handful of those built with a power seat, and that would clinch it.

                            What I can't remember right now is if the Drews President started life Black and White and was changed to Yellow and White, or the other way around. That would also be an identifier. If you remember, black with white accents was the 1956 non-Hawk brochure color combination for a 1956 President 2-door, and early cars tend to be built in brochure colors.

                            The 1956 President 2-door on Palma-Rhoads showroom floor on introduction day was like this brochure car; colors, wheel covers, whitewalls. We can't see tinted glass or rear bumper guards in this brochure line art, of course, and there is no record of the Palma-Rhoads car having front bumper guards, as on this brochure car:



                            I will see Joe and Nancy a week from today (Saturday, January 28) at our SDC Indy Chapter January meeting here in Brownsburg. I'll ask her then, assuming they attend.

                            'Glad you enjoyed the post; it was fun putting it together. My mind remembers those cars, places, and events as clearly as if they happened last week....in fact, given my recollection of last week, probably better! <GGG> BP
                            Last edited by BobPalma; 01-20-2012, 04:02 AM.
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Not quite the same thing, but here are the three Studebakers I know about but WISH I could've seen:

                              64V-14402, black '64 Cruiser, red cloth, R2 package car, Powershift, certified speedometer, rear seat speaker, sold to the Service Manager of my hometown dealer.

                              64V-5962, Bordeaux Red '64 Daytona convertible, 289 4-speed, white top, black buckets, sold at my hometown dealer.

                              (I'm amazed our smallish dealer in our smallish town sold two such neat '64's).

                              63V-31238, Super Red '63 Lark Custom 2-door sedan, R2 package car, white Skytop, solid black vinyl buckets, Powershift, sold new in Hollidaysburg, PA.

                              Where, oh where, did these three cars go? In Pennsylvania, I'm afraid I know the answer!
                              Bill Pressler
                              Kent, OH
                              (formerly Greenville, PA)
                              Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
                              Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
                              1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
                              1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
                              All are in Australia now

                              Comment

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