9 November 2015

Too good to be true? Not At All


People Sometimes call and say they have a rare car that is one of one, two or three. Usually, the only thing that sets them apart is the way a screw is fitted or that the ashtray was deleted.

I’m more concerned with originality. But originality is open to interpretation. One guy will insist that his car is “totally original,” despite new paint, chrome and interior. To me, original means unrestored and preserved.

Then a woman brought this 1954 Studebaker to my attention. The coral paint is virtually brand new, complete with factory dust.

The story is as great as the car. In 1954, a machine shop worker bought the car new. He drove it from 1954 to 1959 and after that logged just 37 miles a year. Why 37? That’s the distance from his home to the inspection station.

Once the car was safely back in the garage and covered, he used a blanket to seal the garage door and keep out the dust. After the owner’s illness and death, it wasn’t driven at all.

The story sounded too good to be true. So I started asking questions.

How long have you known the car? Is there anyone who can vouch for the originality? Is that person knowledgeable about cars? Is it the original paint? How do you know?

I was amazed by the response: “Oh my gosh yes, I’ve known the car since it was new. It was my uncle’s. He never let anyone get near it. It even has the original tires and it only has 7,000 miles.” The woman also explained that if anyone ever wanted a ride, first came a special sweatshirt to cover all zippers, snaps and belt buckles, and then the shoes had to come off. Even after the uncle stopped driving it, monthly he’d spin the tires so they wouldn’t flat spot. When I inquired about buying it, she explained something else, too: “This is the price and there is no dickering.”

So I went to see the car with a check in hand. When I arrived, the car was under a cover, three blankets and two sheets. I rolled the cover past the grille, fenders and hood, stopping at the windshield only to hand over the check. Then I finished uncovering it.

This family knew what they had and wanted it to go to the right home. I couldn’t be happier. Oh, and in the months since I bought it, I won the preservation class at the Boca Raton Concours. I've also turned down double what I paid, because I’m never going to sell it.

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    David Steinmetz Ft. Collins, CO December 9, 2015 at 18:41
    What a find!!! Wayne must be an alien...he has a way of finding true gems! More photos available? Thanks for a great short story.
  • 2
    Pat Westfield, Ma January 28, 2016 at 19:35
    I know they can be found. I found a one owner, all original 1952 Buick. I bought it!
  • 3
    Eric Standen Blind Bay, B.C. June 26, 2016 at 00:42
    Just got the magazine... we live in Mexico, but visit in the summer in B.C. Wayne, nice find, but I'd like more pictures. I don't think the car is entirely original as there are some striking differences to my 54 coupe and production 54 Starliners. 1) Bumper extensions were not an option. 2) Wheel covers didn't have the "racing wing nuts" effect. They were a simple gold paint on the indentation. 3) "Curb ringers" were always an add-on in the early 50's and not factory. Also, they would be installed behind the wheel for parallel parking to warn of damage to the hub-cap and fenders. Otherwise a nice find, but, again... more pictures please.

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