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Studebaker reliability

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I bought Studebakers second hand, because they were cheaper than big three used cars, but just as good.  Not only very reliable but easy to work on.  I didn't pay much attention to Consumer Reports back in the day, they were wrong too often to suit me.  I had Comanders, Champions, and Larks.  I liked the Larks the best.

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Posted (edited)

I can only say that if I had space and extra money i would love to have a Studebaker Lark from the early 60's V-8,three speed manual and OD. As I am now Old and Stogie we would be a perfect match.

Edited by plymouthcranbrook (see edit history)

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Just to amplify John S’s information from consumer reports - during that period CR noted Studebakers had the highest or one of the highest incidences of defects recorded for new cars. 

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1 hour ago, plymouthcranbrook said:

I can only say that if I had space and extra money i would love to have a Studebaker Lark from the early 60's V-8,three speed manual and OD. Asni am now Old and Stogie we would be a perfect match.

 

Me too, except make it a 66 Commander with a V8, stick, and overdrive. 2nd choice would be a 58 or 59 Lark VIII, also with overdrive. I think the best looking front end is the 61 single headlight version. It's too bad they never used that with the 58-59 roofline.

 

The 58-59 would have a real Studebaker V8, so there's that, but the 66 Commander is sort of unfinished business for me. I had one years ago (a six) and due to unforeseen circumstances, was not able to restore it.

 

I wouldn't put much stock in Consumer Reports. When I was a tech their automotive picks were the source of endless laughter at work. It really made it hard for me to take them seriously about anything else. Maybe they were better in the 50s or 60s, but I am skeptical.

 

I drove a 63 lark V8 to work for a while. It was reliable enough. It never had to be towed.

 

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Posted (edited)

Four years hence, I don't know how someone digs this stuff up. Here's some more useless observations from me. As a kid  who was into Studebaker, I didn't have much use for the boxy little Lark, when it came out. It simply did not have the styling that I had come to expect. It was obviously designed for a different demographic then this teenager.

 

Fast forward almost thirty years. It had become all too apparent that I would be getting my Dad's 1963 Lark Daytona htp when he passed. The car was a nicely optioned car, V8 auto, and only had 63K miles on it. I had driven the car some, but I had never warmed up to the Lark. Named the car Malarkey, when I got it, because it was to be my only Lark, and I only took it because it was a family member.

 

For the next twenty five years I drove that car all over the western part of the US, Mexico and Canada. It has been my trusted companion and simply a joy to own and drive! With about double the mileage on it, that it had when I got it, it has become less used over the road, but I have little doubt that with a little attention, it would carry anywhere I wanted to go. The upshot is that my collection contains four Larks. It took me a good long time to figure it out!

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)

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My Dad was a Studebaker dealer in the early 1950s, and he did not consider them to be reliable.  I was at the local unveiling of the 1953 Studebaker and fell in love with the styling.  I owned a 1953 coupe while in the military, and it was a piece of stuff; however, that was not the fault of the car but of the previous owner's botched re-build of the flathead six engine.  To this day, I like Studebakers, and a car I'd really like to own is the 1955 coupe.  I really liked the Lark line and was upset when Studebaker went out of business.

 

Cheers,

Grog

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On 7/16/2015 at 12:15 PM, John_S_in_Penna said:

Buffalowed Bill (or others), how were Studebaker cars,

in your opinion, in the mid-1960's?  I always

thought that the 1966 frontal styling update was a good one.

 

By the way, in 1955 the Consumer Reports review

of Cadillac was so full of praise that the Cadillac men

must have been very happy.  Reading it, one can glimpse

that the Cadillac really was once the "Standard of the World"

and see why it far outsold its competitors.  But I digress--

 

julyoldsetc 062.jpg

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The above pic is of my current 1966 Studebaker Commander. It has the Chevy 194 inline 6 with a 3 speed "bolt action" column shift and overdrive. Lack of horsepower is my only complaint.

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The best place to start and maybe finish your ownership of a Studebaker is with it's V8. The absolute worst would be a post war six cylinder Champion. Studebaker's model for success, following the successful debut of the little Champion in 1949, became fuel economy. In subsequent years the Champs weight tended to increase as performance suffered. Today fuel economy is one of the last boxes that we check off when considering a collector car. Please do not get caught up in judging Studebaker by it's six cylinder offerings of the post war era (this does not include the Commander six used<1951 and in some trucks, which make for a more pleasurable drive).

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I have owned two Studebakers over the years, one a 1959 Lark 4 door sedan, and, currently, a 1949 Champion. 4 door sedan. Both cars were equipped with a flathead six with overdrive. I used the Lark as my daily driver  in New York City traffic for over a year, and it was  one of the most dependable cars  that I have ever owned. 

        I bought the 49 Champ at Hershey 7 years ago, and it is a driver. I put work into it, rebuilt carb, new fuel pump, and drained and sealed the gas tank. It is a nice running car. The cars do benefit form having Overdrive. As far as comparing Studebakers to Ford and Chevrolets from that era, I would say that they are evenly matched. I owned a 49 Ford Club Coupe, and it was typical of the era. No better, no worse. I think the best out of the lot is a Plymouth. I owned a 53 Cranbrook. Could not kill it. Hope this helps. Thanks. John

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I've owned a few Stude's with inline 6 power. The Stude 6 was a more powerful engine than the 194 "McKinnon" Chevy junior stovebolt in my '66.

 My 63 Hawk GT with 289 4 bbl, dual exhaust, Twin Traction much better. The 1979 Avanti II equipped with a post "McKinnon" Chev 350 was also very satisfactory performance wise. My family had a lot of Studebakers when I was a kid and before I was born. The most outstanding for me was the 1963 Hawk Gran Turismo my uncle Wayne had when I was 13-14.

This is my former 63 GT now undergoing a restoration by the new owner.

 

 

jan19 039.jpg

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22 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Today fuel economy is one of the last boxes that we check off when considering a collector car.

LoL! You clearly don't have petrol prices like we do!

 

The Dodge 8 will do 10 mpg (UK gallons). It costs me $30 to drive into town and back, a total of 50 km = 31 miles. If I go rural, I have to take note of where I can get fuel: range is 120 miles.

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Spinneyhill,

 

Exception noted. Certainly a different level of commitment to drive your Dodge. I didn't want to give the impression that the Studebaker V8 was a gas hog. On the contrary, in it's day the Studebaker V8 was very satisfying from a mileage standpoint.

In our mountainous western North America, it was at least an equal to the six cylinder Studebaker. 

 

Last weekend we had "Humphrey," 1960 wagon out (259cu" V8 auto). About 250 miles, mostly hwy driving, with some starts and stops, mixed in. Got a satisfying 21+ mpg (25+Imperial gallon). Over the years I've done better, and some worse, but it was what I had come to expect.

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