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1940 Studebaker Possibility


DrumBob
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I played a band gig last night at a local venue that hosted a car show. One of the first cars in was a guy in a 1940 restored Studebaker, in nice shape inside and out. In conversation, I learned he lived down the street and up the hill from me. I looked the car over carefully, took some photos and was pretty impressed. He's asking $7800 or best offer. It turns out he's friends with my next door neighbor. He wouldn't have a problem with me having the car inspected by a professional. 

 

I really hadn't planned on getting a car this old, but it seems like a good deal from a seller who seems honest. It's also a car I could put my hands on, instead of trying to buy something five states away that I can't see.

 

The best part is, he drives the car frequently, so it's a vehicle I can get in and drive with very little repair needed. He said it needed a small part for the right windshield wiper, the right side of the windshield needs to be replaced, and it needs a tune-up. It had a new radiator installed recently and other new parts.

 

I'm seriously considering this vehicle. 

 

Any thoughts? 

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What model/colors/engine/trans?  Please post the photos you took.  

 

Don't buy it just because it "seems like a good deal!"

 

Totally agree on seeing/driving the car rather than pining for a car a few states away.  Nothing beats looking at a car in person!

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Pictures, pictures, pictures. Studebaker made a great car. I drive my 38 everywhere daily. I have even done 15-20 laps on the Indy track and never lifted. It will run at 60/65 with no worries.

As is always the case when asking about a car pics and location are a must. The fact you can see it and drive it is a plus.

dave s 

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One more thing— if the windshield has not been replaced I would do both sides even if one looks ok. If they are original they may be brittle (for lack of a better description) and shatter if hit by a stone. Just a safety idea, I did my windshields but kept the rest of the glass original. Don’t forget to post pics! 
dave s 

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I haven't made up my mind by any means and need to take more photos, which I will try to post after I do so. I believe that when I find the right car, it will just appear and I'll know it. This may be the one, but I don't know that yet. 

 

The color is called Pointview Tan, I believe. I didn't ask yet about the trans and engine. It is a 6-volt system. 

 

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1 hour ago, DrumBob said:

Any thoughts? 

You seem to want others to say yes, or to back up your potential decision to buy it.  That might not be a good way to buy any car or anything else in life..

 

Meaning that you first said it's not even what you were looking for, but say you considering the wrong era car only because it's on your street (versus travelling for your first choice). 

 

I'm just assuming you are new to the hobby and unfamiliar with older cars and what they can/can't do well?   Some new people get very disappointed with a prewar car (or any vintage era car) after owning/driving one in a short amount of time. Then the remorse is magnified when you think to yourself that you took a car that you weren't even looking for, and should have found a way to get your real first choice.

 

If a person regrets the purchase later, he is now stuck with trying to resell in the questionable economic times that we seem to be approaching.(possibly losing lots of money)  So, if your only spare funds are tied up in the wrong car, what will you feel about yourself if "the right one" pops up and you simply cannot grab it, and someone else does?

 

Buying vintage anything is a gamble IMO, sometimes even after getting the "right one", they are so bummed out at the way they don't feel / drive like a modern car.

 

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"Just needs a tuneup" is a red flag to me.  "Needs tuneup" can be masking a need for a valve job or more, and when you open it up there will be more to do just because it's now accessible.  I'd say, "You do the tuneup, or have it done, and if all is satisfactory I'll pay an extra $100."

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Define "restored". It seems if a 1940 car was fully restored the seller would be asking a lot more than $7800 obo for it. Also the catch-all phrase "needs a tune-up" might raise a few red flags, that could mean anything from routine replacement of some simple worn ignition components to something more involved like a carb rebuild, low engine compression, burnt valves or a leaky head gasket. I'm not at all suggesting this is a bad car, but I would take someone who's experienced with old cars along with me when I inspect the car and take it for test drive. Two people checking out a car for potential purchase are better than one. 

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Re-inspect, 

but this time bring along another more expert and disinterested old-car friend to help swing your compass from "excitement" toward reality-

make a list of what the car really needs VS what some would have you do-

then total up the effort, cost, time, etc

 

decide if this a car you would really like to live with,

then try to make a more educated decision

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1 hour ago, DrumBob said:

I haven't made up my mind by any means and need to take more photos

You could be taking too long because it may not be the car for you. Sharing my own experience, cars I have researched, pondered, discussed with others, and analyzed didn't seem to stay with me long. I cars I do own are all impulse buys. Maybe it's that love at first sight thing.

 

Beware of the cerebralized purchase. I see you used "seems" twice in your description.

 

I guess I should mention I have had those impulse buys for 44 years, 20 years, and 12 year. The thought about cars stayed for 3 years tops.

 

Out of curiosity, how many miles have you racked up driving a 1940ish car?

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Bob,

 

I'm a Studebaker owner of some of the vintage of the 40 you are looking at. There were three models available in 1940. I wouldn't begin to comment on what you are looking at, until I knew what model it is. Each model has some critical differences. The same goes for condition. But we need information and pictures!

 

Don't be frightened away because you have never driven a pre-war car. These are not difficult to drive and are very comfortable if properly sorted out. All of us here had to get our feet wet at some point. An hour of instruction and a little practice and you would enjoy your new driving experience. 

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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A late prewar car like this is not difficult to drive.  First gear is probably not synchronized, so you learn quickly to be at a complete stop before downshifting to first.  Flat glass is no issue to replace.  "Restored" should mean it's a color offered that year, and the interior is in correct pattern and material.

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The three 1940 Studebaker series were as follows:

Champion, 110"wb, 164 ci, 78hp. L-head six.

Commander, 116.5"wb, 226 ci, L-head six.

President, 122"wb, 250 ci, L-head straight eight

 

The Champion, their new small economy car in its second year, was the most popular at 66,264.  

The Commander, their solid middle-priced model, sold 34,477

The President, their luxury model, sold 6,444

 

Pictures will be helpful to give better advice.

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Pretty sure it's a Champion, and I do appreciate all the responses so far, even the cautionary warnings. Yes, I am brand new at this game of buying an old car. It just seems like a serendipitous thing going on here. My next door neighbor knows the seller very well and said he's extremely honest in his dealings. He's away until Tuesday, so I might see the car after he gets back, and I plan to bring someone more knowledgeable with me to look it over. 

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On 6/16/2022 at 8:16 PM, Porsche 68 said:

Drumbob I saw that Stude last night at the show it is a beautiful car very well maintained 

Did you know that I'm a member of The Kootz, the band that played Blue Arrow's car show last Wednesday night? 

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I have purchased several cars from first-time antique car buyers who each ended up selling for the same reason.  They had imagined the “cool looking” antique in the same context as their modern car.  That being: you just insert the key and drive it whenever/wherever you want, just like your modern car.  Not true.  Even in the best of condition, pre-war cars require a degree of maintenance and tinkering far beyond that of a 2000’s car, and there are fewer shops each year that will even bother with them.  
 

So, in considering whether it is the right car for you, think about how you would enjoy it, where you will store it, and then whether you have the time to invest (and the desire) to learn about it and maintain it.  All those are more important than the price.  Some of us, twisted as we may be, get our enjoyment from the learning, restoring, and tinkering.  I guess you call that “passion”.  Maybe you are one, too.

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It’s only a good deal if you want one. When I hear something like this. The first thing I ask is. If you could have any car in the world, what would it be? A 69 Camaro, 1933 Ford, 1957 Chevrolet, 1950 Mercury? If you ask yourself that question, would a 1940 Studebaker be the first thing you say? If it is, buy it tomorrow. If it is not, you need to look at the car for what it is. Condition, buy in cost, maintenance, cost of up grades/improvements and resale value. Don’t forget taxes, title and registration. Old cars are fun, spend your money on what you like and want. 

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I wonder if it's the same Champion of 1940' ish vintage that was for sale a summer or two ago on I think both facebook and maybe craigslist here in NY state.  Looked like a pretty decent car in the photos and the price boy seems really close to what it was.  I wonder if this is the guy that bought it, or if it's still the person that was trying to sell it then, but maybe never did?  Can't be too many restored Champions of that vintage in that color in NY state.   I don't recall exactly where it was by I do remember it wasn't that far away,  which is why it kept popping up in my old car searches. 

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A lot of times I have thought that people have purchased "an old car" as a fashion accessory and were getting into much more than they expected. Kind of like all jazz musicians wear those same narrow brim hats and firemen wear red suspenders, an identity thing.

 

My earlier comment about owning a 1940's style was not about that particular vintage. It was more like "Cute puppy. Have you ever taken care of a puppy before?"

Of course, if a puppy has three expensive trips to the vet one doesn't leave it in the garage with Christmas decorations piled on it.

 

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I bought my champion almost a year ago. Picked it up for scrap value. Guy was clearing out a storage yard and it sat on the back of a trailer for decades. I got it running will be sending it out soon for brakes and rewire it is complete (except needing a driveshaft) once my 62 imperial is going this one is next! I’ve had a hard time finding specific parts like tailights and a hood release. 
 

how often do you see 1940 anything? Let alone a four door that doesn’t cost a fortune.

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Edited by MarkV (see edit history)
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I've owned/driven a lot o 30' through 60's car over the last 60 years and helped friends work on a lot more I've developed some rules I follow.

 

Rule number one is if the car is to be driven frequently and you are not planning on a full mechanical restoration always assume that the previous owner did all the simple things and if it just needs a tune up it will "just need a tune up" until you perform some major diagnostic and repair work. I always assume that it will never run or drive better than the day I test drive it until I spend a few hundred hours and dollars or end up selling t because it still "just needs a tune up"

 

There are exceptions - depends on how lucky you feel.

 

 

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