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Homepage. This page: The story of how Mike came to buy this rare Studebaker from the States, and the trials of ownership.

Mike's 1923 Studebaker.

Mike dropped me a note in 2009, with a write-up about the vintage Studebaker that he bought on a whim, and imported from Ohio, USA. Originally hoping to find a post-war Bentley, the story below relates how he came to end up owning this cracking twenties' Stude. The first photo shows the car 'as purchased'. The Studebaker received a new hood and sidescreens in 2008, and was re-sprayed in 2009. The six cylinder sidevalve engine and interior are the originals, having completed just 26,014 miles by the time it arrived on these shores in 2008.
Photos of the Studebaker Special Six as purchased off eBay

How I bought a twenties' Studebaker tourer.

Searching the net looking at vintage / classic cars then I looked on the American e-bay site. Not looking for anything in particular, and I didnít really need another vintage / classic car, the one I have should be enough after all you can only drive one at a time, but deep down I was hoping to find a 1940 / 1950 Bentley at a reasonable price, when I came across a Studebaker Special Six 1923 and this caught my eye. I am not sure whether it was the car or the price.
With only 5 hours to go the price was $7000.00 and at the time the exchange rate was just over $2 to the £1. This was not what I was looking for but in a moment of madness I made a bid for it $7500.00 and I then got the bug. The price war had started, I watched as the bidding went to $13995.00 and by this time it was 2am and I was feeling a little tired. In another moment of madness I decided to use the e-mail auto bid, and I decided to set my maximum figure of $15005.95c. Why $5.95c I can here you ask. Well I had heard on good authority that if you go on auto bid, this is the last bid, no one can win auto bid providing you have the highest figure. No matter how small the amount above the last manual bid. I then decided to go to bed. The morning after when I dragged myself out of bed I checked my e-bay to find that I had won the bid by $5.95.
I wasnít sure that I really wanted this car; I didnít think I would win. I thought about it, had another look on e-bay but couldnít find what I really wanted, so I put the wheels in motion to pay for the car and get her shipped to England. I had bought my previous car from the USA so I was familiar on the routine and I organising the shipping.
Eventually some three weeks later the car arrived at Southampton and I arranged for it to be brought straight to my home. The day the covered transporter arrived I couldnít wait to see the Studebaker Special Six Convertible that I had bought in a moment of madness. The doors on the transporter opened and they started to lower out the Studebaker !!!OH MY GOD!!!! This car was bloody enormous, where the hell was I going to put it, (my partner would like to have told me.) I thought I had bought a convertible car, this was more like the size of a convertible truck and yes I did see pictures of the car, but it never sunk in that it would be this big, I was thinking on the lines of a Model T Ford in size.
Too late now the car was here, I had paid the duty, the transport, the shipping from the USA and released my money for the car. On first inspection of the car, I was surprised, shocked, speechless, but how the hell do you drive it? How do you start it? Where's the key? I knew nothing about the car, I had never knowingly seen a Studebaker before, let alone one this old and this big. What had I done?
The driver of the Transporter left and I had then got to move the car off the road into my drive, before a bobby came along and give me a ticket for No Mot, No Tax, and No insurance. I hadnít the faintest idea on how to start the car and I couldnít get it started, so I called my local garage (Reliance Glossop). This guy has several vintage cars and looks after my other old classic car.
Peter from the Reliance Garage turned up at my home around 2 hours later, and after looking over the car he give me some brief instructions on how to start her, and a lesson on how the gears worked. I parked her on the drive, well thatís a lie Peter from the garage parked her on the drive, and I proceeded to admire my purchase and still wonder were I was going to put this extremely large car.
I took out the paperwork that arrived with the car and fortunately there was the original handbook with the car, this was a godsend. Over the next few days I educated myself on the Studebaker. It only had rear brakes, a three speed crash box, 6 volt electrical system, no wipers, no reflectors on the rear, only one side (left) had any rear lights on, no indicators (how was I going to turn a left handed vehicle right with no indicators)? With difficulty. Oh my god what had I done? Too late to worry about it, I just had to pull myself together and get on with it.
A week later I decided to take the car out for a spin, this was my first attempt to take her onto the open road. I managed to get her started and I drove some 500yds and she stopped. I hadnít a clue what was wrong (not being mechanically minded). I telephoned Peter at the garage and the first thing he said was ďhas she got petrol in?Ē. I never thought to check that, I assumed that she had. Well where's the petrol gauge? I couldnít find it I looked all over the dash but no petrol gauge. I soon learned that the gauge was on the tank itself at the rear of the car. Guess what? The petrol gauge wasnít working, after finding a piece of wood I dipped the tank to find she had no petrol. The basic fundamental checks were miles from my way of thinking. I was too busy worrying about how to drive her.
After getting petrol into her, off I went to continue my first experience with the car. If you have ever travelled in Mottram near my home you will find it quite hilly, this proved to be a challenge as the car was only firing on 4 cylinders out of 6. I didnít know this at the time I just knew she was struggling going up hills, I presumed that this was the norm for a car of this age. The handbrake was practically non-existent. The foot brake!! WHAT FOOT BRAKE!! I was now having palpitations, hot sweats and mild, what the hell do I do attacks, as the traffic was building up behind me. Having learned very quickly that the back brakes were not efficient, actually they were not any bloody good at all. !!OH NO !! It canít be, it is, it definitely was, it started to rain, (no wipers, by the way the roof leaks) I just had to get home my first drive was a nightmare.
When I got back my partner Shaun asked, how was it? Fantastic bloody fantastic, I said, lying through my back teeth because I didnít want him going on at me saying ďtold you not to buy itĒ. I hid my disappointment and put the car back in the drive. I was determined that the car would not get the better of me and that I would master it, I spoke to lots of people who had old vintage cars and I learned a lot.

More problems on a classic car run.

Remembrance Day Sunday . Wet and Windy, nevertheless I had arranged for a classic car run from Manchester to Great Harwood in aid of HEROS. This was for soldiers that are currently serving and we were collecting for a soldier that sadly had been killed from Great Harwood.
We arranged with the Blue Yonder car club, which are mainly Old Ford Consuls, Zephyrs etc. We also had some classic car owners from the Hare & Hounds Club. We met at Stalybridge Labour Club and set off down the M60 to meet up with the other club at the Boat & Horses Chadderton. We drove in convoy along the M60 with the Studebaker in front.
For those who know the Stude, we had only travelled 2 miles when trouble started, steam in great volumes appeared from the radiator cap, of course we did the sensible thing and pulled onto the hard shoulder, one and all, 25 other cars in the convoy.
Bonnet up and we could see the problem, the fan belt was loose. So after using all the spare water I had with me, and tightening the screw that kept the fan tension to the belt, off we went.
One mile down the road we had a repeat of the earlier problem with steam pouring out like a steam locomotive. Bonnet up again and we had the same problem, again all 25 cars pulled over on the hard shoulder, you can imagine the passing cars looking at this fleet of 1950 /1960 vehicles plus of course the Stude. With every driver out of their car carrying bottles of water to the lead car (the Stude). Once again off we went and all appeared to be well when the Stude started to swerve from side to side and I appeared to have no control over her movements.
Back on the hard shoulder all of us, this time before we could get out of the car blue flashing lights, Hello, hello, hello. As the officer walked towards me, I knew that he was not happy. ďWe have had you monitored for the last few miles and you cannot keep pulling over on the hard shoulder in a convoyĒ. I immediately said without thinking they are all helping me - "I am sorry sir, it is not acceptable and it normally only takes one vehicle for assistance, we cannot allow all these cars to stop on the hard shoulder".
After this, all the cars continued on their way leaving me behind, the police after giving me a lesson on the safety reasons for not allowing all the cars to stop went on their way. I called the RAC who eventually got to me. The RAC man took one look at the car and shook his head, what appears to be the problem? WELL WHERE DO I START. No donít open your mouth I thought, I must keep my cool. This time I had a puncture. The RAC man, well really a boy, he was 20ish or he only looked young (compared with me and the Stude). Oh he said I have never changed a wheel on one of these (Iíd guest that before he said it) I am not sure how to do it. Do you mind if I take a picture? The guys back at the depot wonít believe me. I replied I know how, but I havenít got a jack (referring to the changing of the wheel, not the pictures taking). I wonít bore you with the details of the wheel change, but we eventually changed the wheel. What a nice concerned man. True to his word he followed me for around 10 miles and honked his horn and off he went.
Well by now it was past 12 noon, the time we were all due to meet the Gentlemen from the British Legion at the end of the run. Nevertheless I plodded on to get to the destination. The RAC man was probably four miles up the road when BANG, CLATTER, STEAM, WATER you name it, it all appeared from the bonnet. I donít F !!! believe it. I am now cold, wet and pi**ed off. Bonnet up yet again and this time the fan was jammed into the front of the radiator. It looked like you had thrown it at the radiator and tried to get it to go through to the other side. I then realised that this was definitely the last straw. When I rang the RAC and explained were I was, the girl on other end said ďoh you're the old one with wooden bits - your picture is already floating around the mobiles". I was hoping she was referring to the car. Two hours later a transporter arrived, this time it was a woman RAC driver (had she come to look at my wooden bits I wondered). She had said that the car was the talk of the network this morning. Where would you like her to go (Donít tempt me). I kept my cool and answered her, well it wasn't her fault. We then loaded her onto the back of the transporter.
Well off home with the car and of course I am now in the cab of the transporter and in the safe hands of the RAC. !!WRONG!! The next thing we see is a car trying to attract our attention with a man hanging out of his window waving franticly at us. The RAC driver pulls over just behind the car who had flagged us down. As he got out of his car he lifted open his boot and produced my spare wheel off the Stude.
Quite casually I asked where did you find that? The bloody thing bounced off the back of the car and just missed me. Whoops. You know when you get up some days? Well I should have stayed in bed. We were extremely lucky no one was hurt. After another lecture (the second one today) from the driver of the car (canít blame him) we put the wheel in the back of the cab and set off home.
The time was now 4:30pm. I had left home at 8am and travelled around 21 miles, this was probably the longest day I had encountered for a long time. The good part about all this is that we raised £1000.00 towards the charity.

The Studebaker's restoration begins.

I kept the car in the condition in which I purchased it for 10 months and I then started the restoration. We first decided to get a new hood. We wanted to give here a radical makeover, so I looked at previous Studebakers I notice that a lot of the cars were vibrant gay colours, so we decided (well my partner decided all of a sudden he wants to get involved) to paint her sky blue and white (my partners a man city fan). After looking at hood swatches and liking the coffee coloured hood, Blue and white wouldnít go. I really like the coffee colour for the hood. So it was off to the paint shop with a small cutting of the material for the hood and we came up with cream and brown. I had several professionals helping and together over a period of seven months, November 2008 to May 2009, we stripped her down (the car) back to bare metal. Every little part off, and attention to detail was important. The spray job was done by a guy who I met when having to take the radiator off the Stude through having the aforementioned radiator leak. I can tell you after the makeover and when she was put back together, all my sense of reasoning and logic went out of the window. I was so pleased with the end result.
For some reason I thought this is it, I can go anywhere in her. By the way, I had still not had any work done on the engine, brakes, electrics, not even an oil change. I soon found out when driving down the road after bringing her out of the garage after her re-spray, the only thing I could do was to get Reliance to pick her up and take her in for a service and a whatever she requires job. I can now tell you that I am the proud owner of a fully restored Studebaker Special Six, and I know nearly every little nook and cranny and the ins and outs of every nut and bolt. By the way, the manual tells you to check the nuts and bolts every 500 miles, well thatís another story.
The restored Studebaker
Thanks for putting that together and sending it over Mike - much appreciated. More owner's stories can be found in the Your Classic Cars section at oldclassiccar. Other Studebaker information on the site include this owner's notes about a Studebaker Champion he once owned, and a Studebaker Commander here in the vintage photos section. Also in the old photos section, this rare Gran Turismo Hawk. Some more recent images snapped at a Studebaker gathering in the USA can be found on this page.

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