Just ask Jay Leno.
Too good to be true? Not At All
1954 STUDEBAKER SKYLINER
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.