“Hey, Mac… pull up a chair for a moment and I’ll tell you my story.”
“Sure, I may not look like much to you right now, but let me tell ya’, I’ve been from one end of this country to the other and I’ve seen things other cars can only dream about. Betcha never would have guessed I’ve got well over 200,000 miles on my ‘clock,’ would ya’? Well, that’s the gospel truth—as sure as an exhaust stroke follows a power stroke!
“My current owner’s uncle bought me new, in 1949–just up the road a piece, in little Toulon, Illinois. His best friend also bought a new ’49 Stude, and we covered a lot of those cross-country miles together.
“You see, my first owner was something of a rock hound—in fact, his first car was a Ford Model T that he drove all over when he had a mind to do some geological hunting—even as far out West as the Badlands.
“If you can believe it, he had that same Model T right up until he bought me—he was a fellow who believed in keeping up his automobile and other equipment, and that’s a big reason I’m still in decent shape today—well, decent for being a tetch over 60 years old, that is!
“By the time he wore out that ‘T,’ this great country had seen the end of a global war, and folks were mighty optimistic about the future. Roads were getting better, and my owner was ready to see where they led. He kept right along with his rock collecting, even though some folks poked fun at him for driving weeks on end just to bring back a trunk full of ‘gravel.’
“We did a good bit of galavanting around local parts, too. We made frequent trips downstate to see what was ‘playing in Peoria’, and occasionally went all the way up to Chicago. I always did my best to give my owner good service, and he showed his appreciation by taking really good care of me.
“Why, I remember two occasions when he got together with his Studebaker-owning buddy up in Toulon, and together they spent a couple of weeks rebuilding my and the other Stude’s engines—that’s right, my original 80-hp six is still ticking!
“Well, my original owner eventually got the urge for something a little more modern (and maybe a little more peppy). In 1975, he bought his third (and last) new car, and I was tucked away in the back of the machine shed— I guess we’d shared too many memories for him to part with me.
“Sadly, he passed away a few years later. His sons weren’t interested in keeping me around, and I ended up getting passed along to a nephew who happened to run a garage in nearby Princeville, Illinois.
“It’s worked out great, as my new owner intends to turn me into a ‘driver,’ as he calls it—none of that ‘parade queen’ business for me, bub!
“I’m not quite ready to hit the roads again, but whenever business is a little slow at the garage, I get hauled into one of the bays for a little more work. So far, I’ve had most of my running gear gone through and now I’m just waiting on a little cosmetic work–just give me a fresh interior and touch up my paint, and I’ll be rarin’ to go again, I tell ya’!
“So that there’s my story—thanks for lettin’ an old coot bend your ear a little. Now if you’re any kind of a decent automobile owner yourself, go home and maybe do something nice for your own car, okay?
“So see ya’ on the highways, bub—so long for now!”This story is (loosely) based on the true history of this 1949 Studebaker Champion, as related to me by the current owner.