R-P

Studebaker Identification

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Hello all, my name is Rod and I live in Washington State.   I hope I have posted in the right area, of not, moderators feel free to move it wherever it belongs.

 

I am on a mission to identify a 1931 Studebaker that I have owned since I was 22 (and I am now 57 and not sure how that happened so fast :-)

 

At any rate, my car was actually turned into a street rod in 1963, and was in it's finished form that I have it in now in 1968.  It was the cover car in the 1974 edition of Street Rodder magazine (hopefully I can attach some pics here)

At any rate, yesterday I pulled the chrome dash board off and found the original Studebaker dashboard cutout intact (well mostly intact, apparently the craze in the early to mid sixties was to put every gauge ever made into your car, working or not) but the outline is intact.

 

Then I stumbled onto this link: 

http://www.happycarz.com/showroom/1931-studebaker-54-r-roadster/

If you read the text in this link (or maybe it is a members car?), you see this company claims this to be "one of six" of the 1931 54R.  I am wondering if there is some kind of unique identifier (other than serial number, mine is intact, but is not in any Studebaker records) for the 54R?  About ten years ago or so I started to do a little digging, and there was speculation that this was a "one off" built for a special customer, as it has the same dash, rumble seat, rumble seat step and taillight as the one featured in the link above, and the grille, soft top and windshield are the same, but mine also has the Oval headlights and the 4" wide single bar bumpers featured on the Four Seasons President.

Any info is of help.  I know it is not a true "antique" that your site specializes in, however, to me it is precious, and has been part of my family for decades.  I would provide pics of my car, except I have it in about all the pieces it was made from at the moment..........

(Also, I sent a very similar email to Jerry Kurz of the Antique Studebaker club, so if you read this Jerry, thank you in advance for any info you can provide)

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Rod

Stude cover shot and contents0001.pdf

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If your car has the oval lights and one piece bumper maybe it is a Dictator? The wheelbase is only one inch longer than the Model 53/54 Six. I assume the original engine is long gone? The Dictator used a small 8.

 

Wheelbases; Six - 114", Dictator - 115", Commander - 124".

 

I presume the id tags have been removed from the chassis (serial number) and firewall (body id and number)?

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I believe there is an AACA recognized category for "period hotrods/modified cars" which your car seems to fit nicely as it is perhaps 50 years old. Great magazine article from 1974, thanks for sharing, would love to see a current photo of what is likely a rare car.

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Here are a few pics taken a few years back, as well as a photo of the dash of my car (note cutout shape, you need to disregard the extra holes put in for all those gauges) it is the notch on the bottom that makes it unique to the 54.  I presume this was for the cowl vent pull rod, and mine has the complete cowl vent assembly installed underneath the cowl, yet it is welded and smoothed over on the outside (the cool thing to do in 1963 I suppose).

 

Unable to measure the wheelbase at this time, front end is completely disassemble and being re polished and chromed.  Lots and lots and lots of chrome on this car, which was the cool thing to do as well back in the day.  This thing is so retro, it has Gabriel Silver Eagle racing shocks, in chrome, that Gabriel would like to buy for their vintage collection!

 

All Model 54's seem to have this dash, whereas the Commander and President are distinctly different.  I cannot find a Dictator dash pic to save my life (metaphorically speaking).

 

My car has the serial number stamped on the frame behind the drivers side front wheel.  I had some Stude experts take a look at it, and they confirmed that was indeed how Studebaker did it back in 1931, not with tags, but with alpha numerical punches.  There is no firewall tag, nor any evidence of where one would even be.  The firewall is thankfully unmolested.

 

Thanks for your input, I will keep digging.  I need to insure it properly, and also make sure my wife and daughters are clear on what it is should I pass.  Although they love me, cars are not their thing.  I'm keeping this til my last breath, but the girls will likely dispose of it.

 

RP

IMG_5127.JPG

Stude left hand side.JPG

Stude Right hand side.JPG

Stude original dash cutout.jpg

54R dash.pdf

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i know your car very well. We were down in Olympia about ten years ago to see it. I believe that all your questions were answered then. The car has not change and it is, what it is. If you are asking about selling, this is the wrong forum for this car. If you are wondering if the value has gone up, it has not. If you are asking, if restoring it to original will be sustainable, in today's market, it will not. If you are asking whether refreshing, what was done years ago, will increase it's market value. Only God knows, and he doesn't reside on this forum. 

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Well Bill, first and foremost I want to thank you for reading my post so carefully.  That is why forums can be such wonderful things, anyone can chime in.  Free speech and all that.

 

Let me reiterate what I already wrote.

 

1.  The car is not for sale, nor will it be while I am alive

2.  I do not intend to use this, nor any forum, to try and value and/or sell my car.  But because of answers such as yours, I won't return either.

3.  The premise of my post (I had hoped) was clear.  There was a recent sale of a Studebaker model 54R, and I included the link.  I made special note of the dash cutout.

4.  When you were at my house, the dash was never removed.  It has never been removed from 1962 until two days ago.

5.  Since you know this car so well, and everyone whom claimed to be an expert at my house was undecided on what it was, perhaps your recall is far better than mine.

6.  My question, and only question, still stands.  Is my car a model 54R, and are there really on 6 in existence?  This is not a claim I make, it is a claim made by a recent seller.

7.  With your esteemed credentials, this should be easy.  Is it a model 54?  Is it a roadster (well, yes, obviously).  Are there only 6 in existence and why is that?

 

You might perhaps revisit your response to my inquiry (what you wrote above) and then truly and honestly ask yourself a simple question.  Is it possible that   car collection in any form is sliding, could it be because perhaps this corner of the hobbyist world is inhabited by a few "experts" that tend to push new people away?  I know that is why I refuse to attend or participate in car shows, I just drive my cars.  Because it's fun, simple as that.

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Rod

Edited by R-P
spelling (oosps) (see edit history)

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14 hours ago, Gunsmoke said:

I believe there is an AACA recognized category for "period hotrods/modified cars" which your car seems to fit nicely as it is perhaps 50 years old. Great magazine article from 1974, thanks for sharing, would love to see a current photo of what is likely a rare car.


AACA is about production vehicle preservation, no hot rods. While certainly hot rods have "saved" many bodies from the crusher, and certainly that's better than more cheap toasters, it would have to be ultra rare in order to ever actually make it's way back, which is perhaps in part what the OP was going for?

There is a reference to a 1935 54R that sold in 2009 in Missouri, mentioned in a period Sport Car Market Jan 2009. In that publication they call that car a 1 of 6 survivor. Reading the ad for the 1931 it doesn't seem to me like a car collector wrote it. There is alot of sketchy hedging of words and phrases in the 1931 ad you linked to. I don't see the 54 listed as a '35 model. It's only listed in 1931... But I'm not a Stude expert, just passing on the info I have in my books. It does list 23917 for total 54 production, but thats over all body styles. It does't take too much to run out of a specific model of car after 75 years, but I don't think I'd trust either source as a "gold" standard with limited evidence and possible typos. Maybe they also meant 1 of 6000 survivors! I'll let folks who know the marque give better answers and corrections to my own provided info.

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Thank you Doug for the pic, I now remember a bit why I abandoned my research.  It is confusion that stopped me.

 

Here is a link for a 1931 Studebaker Dictator that is on the market right now.  Attached is a pic of the dash from this car that is for sale.

 

Makes my head hurt........

 

http://topclassiccarsforsale.com/studebaker/335015-1931-studebaker-dictator-6.html

 

Description:

1931 Studebaker dictator 6

this is a very nice 1931 Studebaker dictator 2 door paint is in great shape the interior and the back rumble seat have recently been redone and they look great dash was also recently been redone. the car runs and drives great tires still have good tread motor is clean no problems with anything on the car very low miles very nice car car has been very well taken care of has been garage kept

1931 dictator dash current for sale car.docx

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Never easy with old cars! My picture was just a google search, so it could be different options, or it could be at some point the dash was replaced on one or the other. It could be a mid year rollover. Some of those could be weeded out with someone more in the know. "Dictator dash" got me nothing, I found the pic I posted with "dictator interior". Good luck!

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And just to confuse the issue even more......

 

antique Studebaker club info on 1929 to 1933 models manufactured  http://www.theantiquestudebakerclub.com/indentifycarsall/dataasheet1929thru1933.htm

 

versus Antique Studebaker club info on 1934 to 1946 models manufactured http://www.theantiquestudebakerclub.com/indentifycarsall/dataasheet1934thru1946.htm

 

No model 54 or 53 after 1933...................

 

Many thanks to the Antique Studebaker Club for the compilation of this data.  I hope it is OK to use their web postings for reference?

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Hi, Rod.

I agree with Ed Luddy; you will probably find participants in the Studebaker Drivers Club Forum a little less picky, as the SDC DOES have separate judging classes for both Custom and Modified Studebakers. http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?104791-Studebaker-identification

But I also notice you have posted this on the "General Discussion" page of the AACA Forum, rather than the AACA page intended specifically for Studebakers, Rocknes and Erskines.

While I am not qualified to answer your questions, Richard Quinn IS; and he visits those pages of the Forum daily. http://forums.aaca.org/forum/21-studebaker-erskine-rockne/

STUDEBAKER INVENTED COOL ! ;) And your roadster qualifies !

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Thank you Ed and Starlight, I finally was finally able to post on the stude drivers club forum.  I had joined a decade ago, and they deactivated my account due to inactivity, yet retained my emails so I could not register again.

 

Technology.  I love to hate it.........

If one of the moderators could move this over to the Studebaker section, I would be grateful.  I just want to identify my car and get my estate in order, it's a simple thing really, or should be....

 

Having just gone through the loss of a dear friend, and the sorting of all his auto related paraphernalia, I am committed to not having my family go through what I just went through, which was sorting his estate.  It is quite painful.

 

I don't care what the car is worth, I'll be dead.  I just want my girls to accurately represent it when I eventually pass, as they will surely want to sell it.

 

Thanks again,

 

RP

Edited by R-P (see edit history)
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HI Rod ! It is very easy for a lot of us (many such as myself significantly older than you) to understand your responsible estate planning. I think you are in a very good place to do some of your research, by being here. I , for one , got the point of your posting right out of the gate. It is a totally legitimate question. It applies to the original car , and that is what we in AACA are about. It would be a legitimate question as it stands. Sure , in 2018 we all understand what might have been for a car which began its mods when you were a toddler. But you had absolutely nothing to do with that twist of fate. No one should take it out on you. Many of us have varied automotive interests , and many of us like hot , and even rat , rods too. I really like your Stude. Obviously you sure do , you bought it that way and won't sell it. Where in Washington State are you ? Do you know Sonny Wisner and his Studillac? Welcome to AACA ! I am far from alone in being pleased that you joined in ! Since you just got here , I will post a couple pics of Sonny , he is the guy on the left behind the Studillac , and his famous Studillac. Cad 500 , bored .050 to 514. The Webers are DCOE 45s. And as you see , that is real gold plating.   - Carl 

 

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Thanks for the kind words Carl.  Yours and others posts are examples of how the internet, and forums in particular, can be a pleasant and useful experience.

 

I don't now Sonny nor his Studillac.  Had I ever seen it, I would have been drawn like a moth to a flame.  I actually love the brand, and take time to look at any Stude that is available, whether original or in modified condition.  I always wanted a Stude Pickup, and would like to have a Golden Hawk as well.  However, with already owning six vehicles, well, honey says no more autophilia til I build a bigger shop.  Like a lot of folks, I have a love of machinery, all kinds.  So, for instance, I own 4 motorcycles, yet I am one guy.  Who needs 4 motorcycles?  No one.  But there are a bunch if bike people like me that have more than their share of motorcycles.  Maybe a disease of some kind?

 

I live in Olympia, which is approximately 60 miles south of Seattle on Interstate 5.  When I was a kid (17 years old) I could make Seattle in 45 minutes from Olympia.  Today, it is a 2 hour slog in the best of traffic times, most times 3 to 4 hours.  Anyone who lives here in the Pacific Northwest can attest to the fact that the western half of the state is basically one long city from the Canadian Border to Portland Oregon, where you also have to slog through traffic.

 

I am a back roads driver, I like to keep moving.  So my Stude is rarely seen.

 

I will keep an eye out for Sonny and his Studillac, something I would love to see.

 

Thanks,

 

RP

 

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Hey RP - Love the roadster!  I own a model 54 coupe, but I'm definitely not an authority on them, I'm learning as I go.  I'd say the front grill, headlights and bumper are model 54.  I'll attach a pic of a car on you tube, which looks just like yours.  I know there was running changes made to them over the course of the build in 31.  I'm thinking earlier cars got the oval headlights and single bumper.  In a couple of the photos, your car does look like its stretched a bit, and it's missing a body line below the door, so may be from a different car.  Or maybe the body was stretched to put it on another, more modern chassis?  When you got the car, it was already a hot rod, right?  When they were building the car in the sixties, it was already 30+ years old, so anything could have happened to it.  It could have been rusty below the doors, so they just smoothed it over.  What ever it is, it's really nice!  I'll be following this thread to see what other people say.  If you want me to check my car for any identifying marks that are on your car, I'd be glad to look!

 

 

YouTube Car 001.JPG

Edited by Tom Devoe (see edit history)

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Rod,

Sorry for my abrupt response, but it may still help answer some forthcoming questions. These are only my opinions and you can take them for their face value. Unfortunately your car has been so altered that coming up with a definitive answer is going to be difficult. It's going to require some assumptions that may be true, but may not. Is the chassis Studebaker, and if so, was it originally  married to that body. You indicate that you have discovered the stamped number on the frame, this is all important. My 74 yo brain can't recall what our wheelbase measurement that we took. The longer wb would have immediately excluded the larger Commander, but I do not remember it as being a 54R, either and we know that it is not a President.  The body always seemed larger, then would have been on a 54, but that's just my opinion, and I am no "expert." 

 

As you indicated, the bumper is not the double bumper, as used on the 54R. The President bumper would be larger top to bottom, then that used on the Commander and the Dictator. Another obvious fact is that the oval headlights are not for this car. They are probably from a President, since the optional oval headlights used on the Commander and the Dictator, were considerably smaller. 1931-33 Presidents all use the oval headlights but they changed manufacturer every year. Unless the plating process removed the inscribed script  on top of the housing, or the lenses have been changed, you should be able to determine what you have.

 

If it turns out to be a Dictator or Commander it may be more rare then the 54R, but I don't think that even matters. Whatever the car began life as, it is not now, and only an extreme amount of dedication and resource allocation, could restore it to that condition.  What it is now is a street rod, fashioned fifty five years ago. That is where most of it's interest is going reside, and that is going to be where the value is. Most street rodders could care less if the car is a Studebaker, to them it is what it has become. My opinion is that you should hire a certified appraiser, someone familiar with this type of car, to set an insurance value, that will protect your family. 

 

It was obvious from our visit, that you were part of a busy family, and that you personal interest was in exotic cars. The Studebaker was an obvious departure from your interest and comfort area. You were invited to attend a number of chapter events. Mary sent you Emails, for several outings, to which you failed to respond. Good luck on your quest, solitary enjoyment of your car, but we'll be here when you need us.

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Tom, thanks for the still of the vid, the whole thing can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM14YO9uDsA

A few other details I will provide (or answer some inquiries I suppose) but for anyone interested, you will notice a very distinct (actually two) identifiers on the 54R that sold and my car.  The current 54 coupe for sale here: http://gatewayclassiccars.com/DFW/360/1931-studebaker-54-coupe is the identical color of my dash, as well as under my cowl.  As the magazine article states, Tom and  Mike Davis originally painted the car a green lacquer, same as the above for sale 54 coupe.  Under the dash, where the cowl vent is intact, it is green as well, but very aged.  Same with the wood in the door panels, green.  If you look at my picture of my dash posted above, you will note how closely the color matches the 54 coupe for sale.

 

I actually met Tom Davis about 5 years ago, and he desperately wanted the car back.  He stated two important things to me.  1)  The car, in its current form, was a running original convertible when he acquired it, and 2) he and his brother built over 40 street rods over a period of about 12 years.  Of all the cars he and his brother built, the Stude was the only one he wanted back.  He said he had been actively looking for it for two decades, and never imagined in was in a garage 40 miles from his home south of Centralia Wa (they lived in a very small community called Adna, if anyone is interested or knows of their other work).  Population around 45 for so.  Yes, 45 people make a town.  Regardless, I trust what he says.

 

On to the unique identifiers.  You will note on the blue original you tube vid, as well as the currently for sale 54 coupe, a lower exterior door hinge that sits on the outside of the car.  Next, look at the door on the 54 R that sold, as well as my car.  Yup, no exterior hinge.  Next is the door sill below the door.  The blue original in the youtube and the 54 for sale have a molded lower door seal.  Now look at the 54R that sold as well as my car.  Yup, no molding on the lower door seal.

 

I will continue my research, but assure everyone that has participated that the body is properly attached to the frame, the frame has not been cut or altered in any way, and all cross members are intact except the rear motor mount, which has been modified to the accommodate the SBC.  The oval headlights are Tilt Ray with original chrome, the base to the oval is cold riveted with brass rivets that were chromed prior to installation ( we polished the inside of on of the rivets to confirm it's originality.  The lenses are (I believe) a refracted lens with the brand or Glo Lite, and if you look closely at the 54 coupe currently for sale, you will note the undercoating of the floor plan is striated left to right, as opposed to front to back.  Same with my car, which (to me) confirms the floor pan is original.

 

The car may appear longer than the 54R that sold, but bear in mind my car has had the original axel placed on top of the original Studebaker springs, lowering it by approximately two inches.  The rear springs are stock Studebaker as well, with rear Ford differential lowered in the same manner as the front.

 

I will sign off and wish all of you the best.  Should anyone like to look at pictures of the car disassembled I am happy to comply via PM.  An open forum does not seem appropriate to me to validate this car. I will travel to the museum and get the dimension drawings duplicated for the 54R and then do an engineering analysis.

 

Bill, thank you for your response.  I would like you to know that when you came to my house, yes, indeed, I had several exotic cars.  In fact I have owned over 56 cars in my lifetime.  I have only kept one, and that is this Studebaker roadster.  I bought it when I was 22 and poor as a church mouse with a 2 year old daughter.  It was terribly irresponsible.  But it captured my heart, and has held it ever since.  I lost my home to a total house fire in 2009, and over seven figures worth of very rare automobiles were lost.  Being fully insured, I did not suffer a financial loss, but the larger automotive world lost three very rare cars, making the survivors all the more valuable.  Fortunately for me, the Stude was stored in my offsite location, thus spared from the fire.

 

I would also, as kindly as I can, remind you that you accompanied both Mary West and Don Kelstrom to my home.  You took one look at my car and pronounced it a "run of the mill model six that somebody stuck President lights and bumpers on".  And yes, I remember this very, very well.  As we all now know (or should know) a run of the mill Studebaker six is in fact a Model 54.  The terms are interchangeable .

 

Perhaps now you may understand why I did not attend any of the local Studebaker events.  My car had already been judged an amalgamation of parts, so why would I subject myself to more of the same?  Life is a short and precious thing, and we should all considered how we use our limited time, and how we can give, as opposed to take.  Enrich, and not degrade.  A measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, a motto I will not abandon, ever.

 

And I would have surrendered even the Stude if I could have saved my children's drawings form grade school, my wife of 36 years wedding dress, and my father's cremated ashes.  But I could not.  This Studebaker is all that is left from my (very) humble origins, so maybe that will help all to understand my unwillingness to ever sell it.

 

Best wishes to all, and happy motoring!  (I did take everyone's advice and reach out to Richard Quinn, but I have not received any response.  Perhaps he is on vacation, I've no idea, but I think I am likely on my own here.

 

Be well.

 

RP

 

 

 

Edited by R-P
spelling (again) (see edit history)

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Sorry to hear about your loss. None of that could have been easy. Healing from something like that could take a lifetime, I hope that you have been able to move on.

 

No doubt your memory is better then mine, but one thing that I can assure you of "run of the mill six that somebody stuck President lights and bumpers on," are not my words, but other then the words "run of the mill," the rest may have been the conclusion that we reached. I'm sorry  that our efforts to help you understand what you had, were misunderstood. I don't know how you could feel the need now to slam our efforts, by inferring that our attitude was surly, or demeaning.  None of the rest of us shared your memory of the meeting, the same way you did. You couldn't have gotten it more wrong, if you tried. As Strother  Martin said "What we've got here is failure to communicate."

 

I admit to being disappointed at your failure to respond to Mary's invitations. However you choose to think of me, she deserved more consideration then you were willing to give. I apologize for letting my irritation spill out, in my comments. It's really not like me, but I really do think that she deserved better. Enjoy the ride, and take comfort in the fact that you were able to do it your way.-Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey RP - I just compared your under dash shot to my coupe, and I found them to be identical. Same shape, same stiffening ribs, same steering column / dash brace, same corner cowl piece. Not sure if any of the Other models shared the same firewall, so may not be an identifier. That steering brace is certainly obscure though.

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Thanks Tom, I may shoot you a PM on some dimensions if your able to get them.  My car has the original Studebaker springs and shackles, and I have not measured the rear shackle mount to the front shackle mount, but that would absolutely guarantee the frame has not been altered in any way (and it has not, except the removal of the rear engine mount that I mentioned above.  I am also curious about your stock front motor mounts.  Mine appear to have been adapted form the stock Stude mounts to accommodate the SBC.  But try as I may, I cannot find a clear picture of the front motor mount, not even on a President.  These items are not cold riveted as the spring mounts are, but they are nicely made, and certainly not an aftermarket performance part.

 

Thanks again for your help, not sure if you ever looked at the wood in your doors, but mine is stock, no question.  Same with the rumble seat.  Distinct L brackets and Flat head screws (hard to imagine that in a time of torx bits and 12 point ARP racing bolts that a stock, slotted screw was state of the art back in the day).

 

And as my correspondence shows below in 2005, I certainly did not  think that the colloquial "our opinion" was part of the equation.  Neither Mary nor Don jumped on this forum to tell me exactly what I knew and when I knew it, only one person in that triad did.  And my comments only apply to that one person.

 

RP

(for privacy sake, I will not reveal the name of the owner of the 54R that sold above, save his first name was Brad.  Here is a correspondence about a discussion I had with Brad in 2005, and at that time my questions were answered, or so I thought.  Then other claims were made as mentioned above, and I retracted as I tend to be pretty private in personal affairs.  For instance, it is no ones concern that I collect exotic cars on an antique car forum, but there it is.  Not info I want publicly spread around)

 

-------- Forwarded Message -------- Subject:  1931 Stude
Date:  Tue, 29 Nov 2005 05:37:46 -0800
From:  Rod & Karen Powell
To:  Mary West



Good morning Mary, I sent a couple of emails to you from my work, never got
a response so you may have thought they were spam (my companies name is
"redacted for privacy").  I have copied the text from an email below that
I sent to Don (I could not even reply to his emails from work, they just
bounced back).  Just wanted to give you and Bill an update and once again
thank you for al of your help.  The following is text I just sent Don:

"Yep, I followed up with all of the people you contacted.  Brad in Texas
concurs that the car is a Model 54R, much the same as the one he owns.  He
has some parts and pieces should I decide I need.
Ken on Shaw Island has the most interesting proposal, which is to swap
running gears so he gets a street rod and I get a classic."
 

Edited by R-P
clarification (see edit history)

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