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Daily driving a 1960 Studebaker Lark

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  • Daily driving a 1960 Studebaker Lark

    Hello Everyone,
    I'm new to the forum. I've got my eye on this 1960 Studebaker Lark. I have always wanted to own and drive a Studebaker, but If I bought it I would need to Daily Drive it for about a month till I bought a secondary vehicle. The car (60S-F4 7491) has a 3 speed on the column with flat-head engine. The frame and body don't have any rust, and the car still has the old ignition coil, carburetor, and distributor, I'd say it probably hasn't ever really been touched. The owner told me he bought it from a swap meet, and the guy drove it 30 miles to his location, I have yet to test drive or fire the engine up but after he told me that it sounds like it has the potential to run pretty good. Last year I bought a bunch of tools, everything from a torque wrench to a welder so that if I had the opportunity to buy a running and driving Studebaker I could work on it. I'm currently a college student getting my Bachelors in Automotive Technology, I don't claim to know everything about vehicles but I do have a technical background. Lets just say I'm enough to be dangerous. I guess I'm asking if this is just a crazy idea to daily drive a 55 year old vehicle that has limited parts availability. I'm pretty sure I'm going to quickly start finding the weak link in this car, and would need to repair it. The 6 cylinder flat head engine stays in the car, but I would be open to modernizing things like the generator to a alternator, original carb to a aftermarket, mechanical fuel pump to a electronic fuel pump. I also understand this will require alot more maintenance like adjusting the valves, packing wheel bearings, and alot more patience driving and operating the vehicle. All in all i'm just trying to see how crazy I am.
    Current Automotive Technology Student @ Pittsburg State University

  • #2
    Crazy? Sure.. But, so is everyone else here. Welcome to the madness!

    Several here have done it, myself included. If the car is sound and well maintained, it'll serve you well. It sounds like you have a good grasp on what to expect out of the car, along with the needed "mechanical aptitude" to drive it every day.

    Up until a few years ago, Studes were my only cars. I'd put 10-12,000 miles a year on one without thinking twice about it. I've been on a Stude Hiatus the last couple of years, but another one will be coming my way sometime this year. And it too will be driven daily.

    I'm 25 and grew up in Studes. But be careful.. They have a way of sucking you in and tend to multiply.

    BTW.. Parts availability isn't limited at all. www.studebakervendors.com - www.studebakerparts.com
    Last edited by mbstude; 03-26-2015, 09:55 AM.

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    • #3
      If the car s truly in good shape, you should be fine. There is no need to start worrying about changing things unless they don't work. Parts are available to keep the car running just like when they were new. Just be sure things like the brakes and steering are operating correctly and don't try to drive it like a new car with the latest brakes and power amenities.
      "In the heart of Arkansas."
      Searcy, Arkansas
      1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
      1952 2R pickup

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      • #4
        Welcome to our world. I have some errands I am behind on already. However, I'll offer the following, and hope others will chime in with more valuable detailed info. First...BRAKES! It is more important to make it stop, than go. As far as "daily driver"...my suggestion is only if you are in a position to deal with the anxiety of break downs, delays, and unpredictable problems, while you are becoming proficient/confident in your ability to get and maintain its reliability.

        If you have strict time requirements for classes and a job...being late for class/work due to mechanical problems with your car could cost more than its worth. I'd rather see you succeed in having a happy time with the car, than have it cost you a job, or have such a bad experience you swear off the hobby forever. As far as hard to get parts, once you "plug-in" to the Studebaker Drivers Club, you will be amazed at how much resources are available. Good luck. I gotta go.

        Others please chime in and give this youngster some encouragement. We need more like him.
        John Clary
        Greer, SC

        SDC member since 1975

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        • #5
          My car...my only driver, beside a hot rod or two, is a 59. 2dr. wagon. It sits in my driveway, doesn't get washed as often as it should...waiting for me to need to go somewhere..! Lunch, the store, to a friends, to the drag strip this weekend, etc., etc.
          They were originally made to drive, as long as your car as a whole, is in a reasonably good state of tune...drive it.

          The same care that goes into ANY car to keep it on the road, should also go into your Stude.

          Mike

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          • #6
            I drive a 1961 Champ truck every day to work and back. Wouldn't have it any other way. It is dependable and gets lots of looks, honks, thumbs up, and shout outs each time I drive it.
            If you buy the Lark take it to a knowledgeable mechanic and have everything checked out before putting in to service. Brakes, carburetor, exhaust, tune-up, transmission, rear axles and differential, wheel bearings, alignment... you get the picture. Once you know it is dependable and safe to drive just enjoy it. It will likely give you little trouble once dialed in.
            If you can do any of the above work yourself and your confident of your skills then that will save you some money.
            Drive it! Enjoy it! Join the SDC and your local chapter and make lots of new friends.
            Ed Sallia
            Dundee, OR

            Sol Lucet Omnibus

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            • #7
              If you buy the car, a good next purchase would be manuals, shop and parts.
              Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

              40 Champion 4 door*
              50 Champion 2 door*
              53 Commander K Auto*
              53 Commander K overdrive*
              55 President Speedster
              62 GT 4Speed*
              63 Avanti R1*
              64 Champ 1/2 ton

              * Formerly owned

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              • #8
                Click image for larger version

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ID:	1696049Hey, if a 15 year old kid can do it....
                Neil Thornton

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                • #9
                  I drove a '69 Valiant for 4 years with no issues. It had a points type ignition and a slant six that needed the valves adjusted every so often. Parts were probably more of an issue than with the Stude. One suggestion. Do not throw out anything. Much of the original parts can be rebuilt and will be better than some replacement parts. And the more work you do yourself, the more you will bond with the car.
                  Tom - Bradenton, FL

                  1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2514.10)
                  1964 Studebaker Commander - 170 1V, 3-Speed w/OD

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                  • #10
                    Welcome to SDC and to the SDC Forum Nicholas, you will "Love the Lark", have fun.

                    One of your thoughts to "Update"/Change that I do not agree with is the Electric Fuel pump, they are no more reliable than a mechanical and probably LESS. Your other updates could be good ones down the road, but for now, just check & tune it and DRIVE it.

                    One thing you may not know that differs from other makes, is that Studebaker cared about their Customers, and did not scrap hardly anything from their huge Warehouses all over the Country, in South Bend and in Canada.
                    A GREAT many of these Original 1947 to 1966, OEM, NOS Parts are still in South Bend, IN and other parts of the Country and the World.
                    Last edited by StudeRich; 03-26-2015, 01:37 PM.
                    StudeRich
                    Second Generation Stude Driver,
                    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                    • #11
                      .......I wouldn't trade a good working generator for a wire swapped alternator. Open it up, clean things, replace adjust and buy a spare belt.....

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                      • #12
                        Cool to read you're gonna use it!
                        Whatever starts to go wrong or sound strange: fix it in time & fix it good & that part will be alright for another 20 years!
                        59-60 Lark is one of my favorite Studebaker models & #1 of the 60's.
                        Good luck!

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                        • #13
                          Go for it 'ntreaster'!....Perhaps you may even decide to enter your 'daily driver' Studebaker in the Daily Driver Division I hope to see happen at future Studebaker events!

                          As you read the above posts, it becomes apparent that there's MUCH support on this forum for 'Daily Driver Studes'!

                          (I KNEW they'd come around! )

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                          • #14
                            Nick,
                            My intention was to never be without a daily driver Studebaker. But road salt in Pennsylvania winters, or my financial inability to stay ahead of it, was a real eye-opener.
                            Your profile indicates you are in the U.S. What are your winter conditions? In many areas of the U.S. it wouldn't surprise me to see folks still driving their Locomobiles.
                            If you have the ability to keep it structurally intact, mechanical maintenance of a Studebaker is virtually child's play.
                            "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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                            • #15
                              Nick, before you do any changing generators, carbs & the like I recommend changing the brake fluid first. Flush the system out really good & refill with fresh DOT3 brake fluid. You have probably been taught how hydroscopic brake fluid is so that should be #1 on the list. While your there check all your fluid levels. Being a 3 speed stick it's important to use the right gear oil in there- SL 1 ONLY. Do not use the SL 5 & it's counterparts found easily at most auto parts stores (we call them FLAPS-found local auto parts stores). If by chance you have a 3 speed with overdrive, the overdrive case has it's own separate fill hole to check or the overdrive unit could seize up if run out of oil.

                              Your engine is a solid, dependable unit, all 90 horses of it. As you can see by all the responses your in good company & Welcome to the Forum!
                              59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
                              60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
                              61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
                              62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
                              62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
                              62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
                              63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
                              63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
                              64 Zip Van
                              66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
                              66 Cruiser V-8 auto

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