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We've come a long way since '55

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  • We've come a long way since '55

    I remember Dad raving about a tire that had gone 20,000 miles... Today they are rated at 3 to 4 times that. Exhaust systems were good for perhaps 25,000 miles if you were lucky but I sold a Caravan last year with original exhaust at 250,000 miles. Today I change plugs, wires and fluids every 100,000 miles, change the oil every 5,000 or 6,000 and everything else is permanently lubed . In the fifties it was plugs and ignition at 10,000 to 15,000 and according to the '55 shop manual oil change and 20 grease zerks need to be serviced at 1,000 miles.

    At 50K to 60K we no longer trusted a car and at 100K they were trash. Today they sell warranties on cars with several hundred thousand miles and there isn't a car that built with just a little maintenance shouldn't be good for at least 250,00 miles. Oh yes and the MPG has at least doubled.

    I've mentioned tires and exhaust to my kids many times but it took reading the shop manual tonight to remind me how many other service intervals have stretched despite high way speeds nearly doubling and total miles I drive being exponentially more than dad drove.... and as a minister he drove a lot for the time.

    An inflation adjusted price for that $3,200 1955 Speedster at an inflation rate of 2% a year car would be about $10,000. But that car and it's components today has at least 4 to 5 times the service life for 3 times that $10,000 price and sports DVD players, heated seats, air, heated mirrors, disc brakes, computer adjusted radio volume based on speed, power windows, power locks, cruise control, blue tooth, seat belts, air bag systems, passenger and rear comfort zones and a hundred other features no one in '55 could imagine!

    I need to adjust my service cycle mindset for the Champ and Speedster to '50's standards.

    Compared to the good old days, today's transportation is a real bargain.

  • #2
    Agree completely. Don't forget, in their native midwestern salt, Studebakers were rusted out long before they were worn out. Not unusual to see gaping holes appear in three years.

    FWIW a $3200 Speedster would be $27,792.56 in 2012 dollars.

    jack vines


    • #3
      With the new beet-based snow-melt, etc. that has been developed over the years, I wonder how Studebakers manufactured nowadays would fare...
      ~Matt Connor
      '59 Lark 2-door


      • #4
        This is so true... we had my wife's '05 Pilot in for its 105,000-mile service this week, to do the timing belt and water pump and such. Also recommended at this interval are spark plugs (!), valve adjustment (!) and accessory drive belts (!!). It's a far cry from what we grew up with, isn't it? We can bemoan the new cars' lack of character and style, but it's hard to fault their engineering (most times).

        Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" |