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How Much Should You Do to Make a Studebaker Presentable?

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  • How Much Should You Do to Make a Studebaker Presentable?

    This is a common question. I have a driveable 57 President Classic which needs cosmetic "restoration" with the usual amount of surface rust but no significant rust-out of floor, trunk, or frame. It will need rust control requiring lots of sanding, painting, and upholstery, and still does not have working instruments, although I can drive it on California freeways in daytime and at night. I have spent money to fix leaks from the oil pan and transmission, and it is not totally "dripless" but better than the majority of Studebakers still being driven. I have to remember this is a "Driver's Club" although many members obsess about making their cars "perfect" or "close to perfect". I have no problem with this, but being conservative about spending my money, I don't like to throw it away. I have long ago decided I will never recoup my investments of time and money from any of my eight (8) Studebakers, although I turned a $1,500 profit from a 57 Clipper I bought and sold in 1976. I have owned and sold another 4 Studebakers, and have owned my first Studebaker for 58 years. I am 74 and bought it when I was 16. Presented are photos of my President Classic, and other photos of the same model I have found listed on Craig's list for $5,000, and $10,000. Neither of them are any better than #3 or #4 cars, and both probably have some mechanical problems. Mine is the one in black primer with the bad front and the not so great back seat.
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    Jack, in Montana

  • #2
    In my opinion? Keep it running good, and get some seat covers. If you want to drive it and enjoy it I wouldn't worry about what anyone else says.

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    • #3
      This question will likely elicit as many different answers as the number who reply.
      I own 2 Studebakers. One I drive daily and the other I just take to cruise-ins and drive on club tours. Neither of them are show quality but both are very presentable. I have a budget to do fix up work over and above regular maintenance and I try to stick to it. I do not expect to ever make a profit from owning and (eventually) selling these vehicles, however, with proper maintenance and upkeep I do expect I will not lose money. It's a balancing act.
      The main objective is to keep them looking presentable and enjoying them as much as I can. If the next owner(s) wish to do full frame off restorations that is their call.
      So, how much should one do to make a Studebaker presentable? In my opinion, only as much as makes one comfortable financially and happy to own and drive them. From doing the minimum to a full pop restoration. Whatever suits you.
      Ed Sallia
      Dundee, OR

      Sol Lucet Omnibus

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      • #4
        I always prize mechanical perfection over cosmetics. It's a lonely position among the great unwashed masses that prize paint and chrome over everything else, though.
        RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

        17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
        10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
        10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
        4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
        5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
        56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
        60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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        • #5
          That's a question sure to bring several opinions.

          Whether initially putting a Stude on the road, or keeping one on the road for many years & miles, I must prioritize due to limited funds: safety; mechanicals; creature comforts, and then cosmetics. (Dependability is a major safety issue.)

          Sounds like you have given yours a lot of attention to safety and mechanicals, and looks like you are debating where to go next. I'd submit the driver's seat could probably be made a little more comfortable. As for cosmetics, the black primer looks pretty darn good to me. If you spend much money on the interior or exterior, it will quickly reach a point of diminishing return.

          I'd rather see one liked yours driven into and out of a meet parking lot (or any lot), than an immaculate one coming in and go out on a trailer. Though I appreciate the time and money folks put into the latter, IMHO driving them is what its all about. Yours looks like a good driver to me, as is

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          • #6
            Originally posted by GThawkwind View Post
            In my opinion? Keep it running good, and get some seat covers. If you want to drive it and enjoy it I wouldn't worry about what anyone else says.
            Like any Studebaker, it is always good for lots of looks, tire kicking, and discussion at Chapter meetings and at drive-ins and McDonalds. And it is always an adventure, wondering if it make it back to my garage. I should buy a box of Twinkies and remember to take one with me if I get stranded without food. <g>
            sigpic
            Jack, in Montana

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            • #7
              When I first got into the antique auto hobby in 1970, my mentor and good friend, the late Trevor Brown, said "You can have a lot of fun with a car you can drive even if it's not pretty, but it's difficult to enjoy a trailer queen." Trevor was a master mechanic, a master body man, a master automotive painter, and a master cabinetmaker as well as a very good friend. His attitude was, and mine is, First, make the car safe. Second, make it mechanically sound. Third, make it pretty. When I first met Trevor, he owned and drove a 1928 Pontiac sedan and 1930 Chevrolet coupe. In 1971, he bought an immaculate 1939 Studebaker Champion sedan from its original owner. With two other beautiful antiques to drive and enjoy, Trevor sometimes invited me to take the '39 on tours, and this is what ignited my interest in Studebakers, a make in which I had no previous interest. In July 2013, I celebrated 40 years as the owner and driver of a 1947 Champion.
              Bill Jarvis

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              • #8
                A simpler question has never been asked.

                Your car, your money.

                Take it as far as you want to take it... no more, no less.

                If you are happy with your choice, no other opinion matters.
                Last edited by Studedude; 09-08-2013, 06:23 PM.
                sigpic
                Dave Lester

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                • #9
                  Although you may get lots of opinions here on what YOU should do, only YOU can answer your own question.

                  There are countless ways that people enjoy the old car hobby. From those that have a high bucks, nut and bolt restoration and trailer it to invitation only concours d'elegance, to those that have an old car rusting away in the field next to their house and enjoy sitting on the front porch looking at it and dreaming about it. Both (and everything in between) are valid ways to enjoy the hobby.

                  It totally depends on what segment(s) of the hobby turn YOUR crank...not what anyone else may enjoy. What works for them doesn't have to work for you. What works for you doesn't have to please anyone other than yourself. It's one of the great things about our hobby. It's not a one size fits all...it's only about how YOU get enjoyment, and everyone can be (and is) different in that regard.

                  The litmus test is this. If you are having fun, you are doing it just right.
                  Dick Steinkamp
                  Bellingham, WA

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                  • #10
                    When I first brought home my bullet nose, the front seat looked worse than yours. My wife would not ride in the car till I had the seats re-done. Since I like taking her with me, I did that first. What anyone else thinks, I could care less. But in the long term, I got carried away and did everything.
                    Jon Stalnaker
                    Karel Staple Chapter SDC

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                    • #11
                      I made a decision on our '47 M5 truck, during the rebuilding process to go the full 9 yards.
                      It was painful in the pocket book, but the end result is paying off.
                      This truck is a driver to shows and meetings when the roads merit.
                      It does not belong on the freeways, as it is powered by a stock 170 Champ engine with rebuilt stock suspension.
                      Anything over 55, she gets a little tricky.
                      ...I get the most enjoyment when the "Boys" with GM..Mopar. and Ford for brains look at her with amazement.
                      They always say, how could a Studebaker look so pretty.
                      I'm batting about 800% in the awards department....3 BoS and 7 BoC.
                      However I'v been to shows that the judges have told me that the truck is just to pretty for a Stude truck.
                      But the compliments from the other entrants makes my day worth while.
                      So saying that, you need to know what you want.
                      If you show the car, expect the "experts" to be very critical and somewhat abusive if they find any defect or detail that you didn't take care of.
                      Paying attention to detail and correctness is vital, when you put your car out there.
                      Good luck, and don't get depressed.........They be a whole bunch of Stude lovers out there.
                      Last edited by alaipairod; 09-08-2013, 07:36 PM. Reason: spelling

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                      • #12
                        Jack: Do it as you like. It should be a great driver and you will get a lot of enjoyment from it as is. I have really been happy with what you have done with the cruiser.

                        studedick from the lower Ozarks

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                        • #13
                          For your sake, mine and anyone else on the road make sure it will stop before you make it go. Beyond that anything that impacts handling and safety on the road... tire... shocks... broken or extreme weak springs need to be addressed.

                          Other than that its dealer's choice. If you chose to ride on seat springs without foam the punishment is your choice. If you like a glass bottom boat effect... enjoy. If you want to impress your neighbor the with a special paint job... it's your money.

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                          • #14
                            The first thing that would be on my "to do list" for that Car is 4 NOS or New Springs, that would be number one.
                            StudeRich
                            Second Generation Stude Driver,
                            Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                            • #15
                              It goes without saying, make the necessary mechanical repairs/replacements, but always remember...it can only be "ORIGINAL" one time!! As others have already said...it's your car and your money. Good luck on a great car!

                              Dan Miller
                              Auburn, GA

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