Sao Paulo can be considered the New York City of Brazil: the largest city in the country (or anywhere in the Western Hemisphere) and the main business and financial center. Brazil’s international image comes largely from Rio de Janeiro, with its beaches, favelas, Carnival, and upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, but Sao Paulo is where the biggest money is. So it is perhaps not surprising to find that someone there has spent what must have been a considerable amount of money to buy and restore an unusual vehicle: a Studebaker pickup truck from the early 1950’s, which someone should be able to identify with greater precision.
This pickup has a hood ornament that looks like both a gunsight and a finned bomb or missile at the same time. A Studebaker was a step down from a Buick in the 1940′s, but in the hood ornament department, this Studebaker wins.
The primer spots add some character, as if this pickup needs more. The “roll bar” made from household plumbing adds humor value and probably no safety.
The Studebaker’s owner was a friendly man who seemed very happy to have a foreigner paying attention to his truck and eagerly opened the door so that I could take a look inside. There are many features to make you smile: painted woodgrain on the dash, a five-toe gas pedal, a Ford steering wheel, what looks like a brake pedal from another car used as a clutch pedal. All very clean looking, aside from the huge rust spot on the A-pillar. This truck would look equally perfect in the hands of a gentleman farmer or surfer dude in the U.S.
The ready availability in North America of mass-produced pickup truck accessories out of a catalog apparently has not spread to South America, and this truck has more character as a result. The improvised roll bar is the most visible add-on. Also visible are metal strips fastened with shiny chrome acorn nuts, to protect the top edges of the pickup bed and tailgate. On the other hand, nothing other than paint protects the (well-used) pickup bed itself. A bed liner would look wrong on an early 1950’s pickup, so it as just as well that this truck does not have one.
The last word on this truck comes from a sticker on its tailgate. I do not know Portuguese, but machine translation with some human improvement gives the following: “This is not an old car, it is an antique vehicle that is better than your new car!”