I’ve brought over most of my CCs from the old site, but for some reason, I held off on the one on this fine Flamingo-pink ’61 Lark. Why? Mostly because I did a much more comprehensive history of the Lark here. But maybe there was something else, as this particular Lark had quite a story. It had been sitting out front of this family’s home for some 35 years when I shot it in my earliest few months of curbsiding, back in April of 2009. The owner had come out and given me a brief synopsis of its life as a family hauler, including being driven to high school by his two kids.
But it disappeared from its familiar spot on Emerald Street about a year after I wrote it up in 2010, which seemed a bit odd as well as sad. Did the owners move away? Did one of the kids take it with them? But out of the blue I got an email from its former owner John recently, as he stumbled into the article via a Google search, and he provided me with more information as well as its departure. I’m going to let John tell the story himself:
For some years after I sold it in 2011, I would be questioned about what happened to the Studebaker, for it had been a fixture on Emerald Street for 37 years! I bought it in late ’74 and remember driving it home in the snow. At that time we had one child, and the roof of our 1961 Impala convertible was rotting and the seats didn’t match after it was stolen. The Lark was our primary car for at least 10 years and was still used on a regular basis for another 20 or more.
When I acquired it the speedometer read about 60,000, and when sold it was close to 180,000. During the last 10 years only 8,000 miles were added.
In the 80s the engine (the new-for 1961 112 hp OHV version of the 169.6 cu.in six) was rebuilt by Ernie at Joe’s Garage. We needed to send to Indiana to get the parts. Over time I had to replace most of the bushings and an assortment of smaller parts that just wore out. I also finally acquired a working gas gauge. For 20 years or more I kept track of mileage, averaging 20 mpg on the road and 14 mpg in town. Occasionally, my predictions were not accurate, and it would run out of gas.
I always told my wife that I could never have an affair given the distinctive colors of the Stud. When we finally started buying new cars, those were hers and the Stud was mine. I still drove it to work and on errands until 1999 when we decided for safety sake (and better defrost) that I should drive another vehicle. That was when it became a more spring/summer car.
My kids had misgivings in Middle School and early High School about about the age and color, but as time passed and people they didn’t know honked or gave them the thumbs up, their attitude changed. Everyone now call it the Stud.
An anecdote. During the summer when my son was in college, he took his girlfriend camping at the coast. Soon a number of older gentlemen drifted older, attracted by the car, admiring it and asking questions. At that point he decided that it was quite a cool car.
Both our daughters drove away from their weddings in the Studebaker and have photos of their getaways hanging in their house. The new owner saw our copies and expressed hope that his daughters might be able to do the same.
However, by 2010, I wasn’t driving it that much, maybe 500 miles a year in the summer, and upkeep was getting more difficult. I hesitated to sell it in town thinking I would regret it whenever I ran into the Stud. Late in the summer of 2011 I put it on Craigslist and waited. I felt obligated to warn several young ladies who thought it was so “cute” that they shouldn’t consider it as their only transportation. Eventually I was contacted by somebody in Wilsonville whose father, grandfather and other relatives had all enjoyed Studebakers and he was very interested in acquiring the right one and completely restoring it. We agreed on a price and I was happy to see it go to a Studebaker family.
When he and his wife and daughters arrived, they were all wearing salmon colored shirts! We took photos at a signing ceremony and he took off for Wilsonville with the family following. For more than a year he occasionally sent emails about ordering the original upholstery and other minor changes that were in the works but then contact ceased.
Thank you John for the update and additional information. I’m sorry to not see the Stud on our frequent walks to that part of town, but I’m glad to know it’s gone to a good home.