Car Restoration Projects

Chance encounter – 1924 Studebaker

 

Like many iconic automobile manufacturers around the world that were instrumental in the development of the horseless carriage in the late 1800s and early 1900s the Studebaker Corporation folded after 69 years of automobile production in 1966.  The first petrol-powered cars to be fully manufactured by Studebaker were sold in 1912 and over the next 50 years, the company established a reputation for quality and reliability.

 

This 1924 Studebaker is owned by long-term Milton resident Roger Guest, a member of the Milton Ulladulla Vintage & Classic Car Club. His beautifully restored Studebaker exudes the flamboyant Gatsby-era from ‘The Roaring Twenties’: from its art deco style headlamps to its glorious faux-wood-grained instrument binnacle.

Roger has owned the car since 2014, having purchased it from a Sydney vintage car restorer Joe Devries. 

Joe’s expertise and master craftsmanship, working with wood and metal, transformed a rusted pile of metal and decaying timber that lay in a car wrecker’s yard in Lithgow in 1994. After looking at a photo from that day in Lithgow, the transformation is reminiscent of the metamorphosis of a cygnet to a swan. 

 

Rog said he first saw the Studebaker at a car display day at Eastern Creek (Sydney) in 2014. He and a fellow club member spent the day ogling the display of automotive jewellery from several eras of the 20th century. 

He said: “As we were leaving the venue, we noticed a vehicle sitting alone near the exit gate, and it had a for sale sign on the windscreen .

“It was a Studebaker and I’ve got to say it looked impressive.

“It had been beautifully restored, although not quite completed, because the hood bows were in place, but without any material covering and the seats had been reupholstered, but not the door cards. 

“I was interested in talking to the owner, but there wasn’t anyone around, so my partner-in-crime took the phone number down and we headed for home.” 

Mulling it over that evening Rog thought about what a glorious era of motoring history the car represented and, for the right price, he could be its custodian. He rang his friend the next morning and before he could say anything, his mate said: “ I knew you’d ring and I’ve got the phone number right here.” 

Rog continued: “I contacted the owner and collected my mate, because he’s a keen car club member and had restored several cars over the years, so I valued his opinion.” 

After a long conversation and a detailed inspection, the deal was done and the boys went back to collect the car, along with some spares and the photographic records of the restoration, a couple of days later.

 

A new Milton resident 

With the Studebaker safe in Roger’s shed it was time to add the finishing touches. A local automotive trimmer, whom Roger and several other club members had previously employed got the gig.

The hood was covered in a modern, quality material that is similar in appearance to the material used when the Studie was new and he was also able to match the colour of the seat material for the door cards. To add a touch of class he stitched the Studebaker script on them.   

The quality fit and finish of the restoration is outstanding and upholds the Studebaker Brother’s credo: ‘Always give a little more than you promised’. 

The Studebaker linage in the USA began when the family emigrated in 1736 from Germany, bringing their skill of building first-class wagons and farming equipment: a skill passed down through the generations.  

At the turn of the 19th century they became interested in the horseless carriage, exploring the workings of an automobile, firstly with electric power and then using the internal combustion engine. They built quality into their products which gained an enviable reputation with the consumer; never straying from the credo.  

Roger is a confirmed General Motors enthusiast and the Studie purchase was the first time he had strayed from the holy grail. Having said that, he talked enthusiastically about it and grinned like a Cheshire cat.  

He said: “I love driving it, but it took me some time to adjust to the non-synchromesh gearbox – slow and steady shifts are the order of day. 

“The flywheel is heavy, so it takes a time for it to slow the revs enough, in order to make ther next gearshift in the three-speed gearbox.”

The Studebaker’s 288 cu-in (4.7-litre) in-line, side-valve, six-cylinder engine produced 50bhp (38kW) at 2000rpm, when it left the factory. The brakes are mechanically actuated on the rear wheels only, but they will actually skid the wheels.

   

It has some features that were innovative in 1924, including a cigar-lighter that pulls out of the dash on a long, steel-braided electrical cable, enabling a person to use it remotely. It returns with a spring-loaded action. 

There is also an interior light on the dashboard, which operates in a similar manner. 

Every component on this car is superbly crafted and finished to the highest level, as the Studebaker brothers promised in their credo.

   

Jim Gibson has written countless stories about beautiful classic vehicles from many of the world’s vehicle manufacturers and for him this car shares the top rung of the ladder: beside a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 and a 1938 Lagonda V12 Sports Saloon. All three vehicles are notable for their functionality, attention to every detail, build quality, craftsmanship and creative design.

 

 

 

   

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