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Long Distance Trips with a Six Cylinder Lark

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  • Long Distance Trips with a Six Cylinder Lark

    Dumb question: Has anybody driven a six cylinder Lark more than 500-600 miles? I read in an old TW about two people who drove across Canada on a tour.
    I am asking because I may do a trip from south TX to a meet in Tulsa OK in April I am working up my nerve...
    If you did this were there problems? Were you successful? Suggestions are greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for the help
    Dave Nittler, Cotulla, TX
    1961 Lark VI
    David G. Nittler

  • #2
    I sold a '62 Lark IV to a gentleman who got in it and drove it from here (Portland, Oregon) to Los Angeles. He said it was one of the easiest cars he had driven on a long trip. The engine needed some work but it got him home he said with no problem. If I can find his name and contact information I'll PM you.
    Ed Sallia
    Dundee, OR

    Sol Lucet Omnibus

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    • #3
      It has been a long time since I played on the roads of Texas. Checking google maps indicates what I remember as rather tame terrain as opposed to our nearby mountains in the western Carolinas. If your Lark has overdrive, is in good mechanical condition, well lubricated chassis, etc., it looks to be a rather straight shot. You could take your time and plan to use somewhere near Dallas as your stop over, and make the trip two days up and two back.

      If you plan your schedule to avoid rush hour traffic in the metro areas of San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth, you might alleviate some of the white knuckle driving moments. The main concern is that spring storms, in that part of the country, can become quite harsh. Carry a few tools, good spare, and perhaps a spare set of points and enjoy the adventure.
      John Clary
      Greer, SC

      SDC member since 1975

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      • #4
        I drove the car below from north central Texas to Pennsylvania in June of 2005 - took it easy and did not try to break any land-speed records - everything went great. Biggest concern on the whole trip was the one day I was on an Interstate, it was pouring rain - thanks to Rain-X I could drive the car in that type of precipitation...



        I know some people who, if they go more than 25 miles from home, put every item under the sun in the trunk, "just in case..." Pack the simple stuff and keep your phone handy - and enjoy the drive. Most fun might be going the old route - stay off the interstates - those small town folks will enjoy seeing the car and not the guy blowing past you at 80 mph.

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        • #5
          Don't try to drive it too fast. The speed limits in the days our cars were built were lower. If you stick to a reasonable speed you should be OK. I could drive my 51 Champion overdrive all day at 60, but the one time I went for 75, the overdrive seized.

          Transmission type is a big factor. Overdrive is great on the highway, but an automatic transmission or a straight three speed not so much.
          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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          • #6
            I daily drove my '62 Lark VI with overdrive for several years, including one trip from PA to Stillwater, OK and back, running highway speeds with everyone else.
            Granted, the car was only ten years old back then. It did overheat around Springfield, OH and a shop there repaired the radiator while I went to a movie theater and watched "The French Lieutenant's Woman." Unfortunately, there were no other shows in town.
            If yours has been maintained, TX to OK is just a picnic.
            "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.
            sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

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            • #7
              I learned many years ago that it is good to carry extra water pump, fuel pump, belts and hoses, points, coil, etc. because it's hard to get these parts for old cars. It's no fun having to sit in the middle of nowhere in the best accommodations you can find and wait for a part to arrive.

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              • #8
                Jerry and Faye did indeed drive their Lark VI OHV coast to coast to coast. In 2009
                they drove from Moncton NB to Rutland Vermont for the Northeast Zone
                Meet and returned home with no problems.

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                • #9
                  My dad had a 60 lark flat head 6 three speed when I was in high school and me and my buddies use to drive it all over the place and when sixteen you didn't know what under 70 was.

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                  • #10
                    I drove a 61 Lark six from Phoenix to Colorado Springs and back with out a problem.....about 50 years ago!
                    Lou Van Anne
                    62 Champ
                    64 R2 GT Hawk
                    79 Avanti II

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                    • #11
                      I drove my 57 Silver Hawk with 6 cylinder engine and automatic from San Jose, CA to L.A. (over the big pass) and all the way to Ruidoso, New Mexico in 1992 or 1993. It made it fine, if slow in the higher elevations. RadioRoy will remember that car.
                      "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

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                      • #12
                        In the late 60's and early 70's I drove my 1950 Commanders 1500 miles home on leave several times. One time I drove straight though in 24 hours, but I sure wouldn't do it again. It was hard (and foolish) trying to keep my eyes pried open for 24 hours straight. When I left the Army I had one Stude pulling the other with a towbar 1500 miles one way home, and never had a problem.

                        As Sam mentioned, carrying a few spare parts isn't a bad idea. Last summer I thought I had my spare fuel pump in my trunk, but when I got to Michigan and the crap gas destroyed my new fuel pump, I discovered I forgot to throw the spare pump in the trunk. I had to go to O'Reilley's and buy an electric pump to get home. I had just bought the 1950 Champion early last spring, so I drove it around locally a lot to make sure it was good to go. I gave it a grease, oil and filter, then headed out. I put almost 2000 miless on it in September, and it was a great trip. I find Studebakers a very comfortable car to travel in. I'm not sure holding the national meet in St. Loius during the hottest week of the year was the best idea though. The side vents do a pretty good job, but the older I get, the more I like air conditioning.

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                        • #13
                          The only thing keeping me from driving my Lark VI wagon faster are the bent rear rims I need to get replaced. Until they happened, I drove my wagon 65 often on the flats and it purred. 58K miles on the car. I think, weather permitting, and general engine condition, Texas to Oklahoma shouldn't be a problem. I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I don't expect the car to go 60 uphill, and it doesn't, but on the flats, it's not been an issue.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by drnittler View Post
                            Suggestions are greatly appreciated.
                            Do all logical maintenance and make your appearance. Accept the fact that anything can go wrong at anytime with anything. Or sell the car.
                            "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.
                            sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Axle Ratio and transmission type are needed here.
                              If this OHV Six is like all I have seen and owned with Std. or Automatic, they have a 3.73 Ratio Rear Axle.

                              This just will not work with a Six for long distances at over 55 to 60 MPH without the dreaded overheating and subsequent risk of a Cracked Head.

                              On the other hand with Overdrive, no problem at all. Possibly a 3.54 Ratio would help if no O.D.
                              StudeRich
                              Second Generation Stude Driver,
                              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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