Always Itching for More Studebakers

Probably best not to drop this on I-40. Matthew Anderson

As I write this missive, the last of my poison ivy patches have finally crusted up and fallen off. Mind you, I don’t normally go to the doctor for such things, but the spread had gotten out of control and I needed a steroid to suppress future outbreaks. The doc asked me what the hell I was doing to get so much exposure to the three-leaf devil. Clearly, this healthcare professional had never pulled a Studebaker and its accompanying parts out of the woods.

Then he surprised me, tearing the Rx sheet off his little booklet and handing it to me. It was a prescription for where—in this very county—I could find more Studebakers, should I want them. Turns out we both had the itch!

So, how did this all go down? Well, to go way back in history, let’s start at the first place I got poison ivy requiring a steroid. As a young boy with a $5/hr gig doing odd jobs around a local dairy farm-turned-garage, where over 200 Studebakers resided, 9th-grade me elected to free a 1948 International pickup from the grasp of a girthy vine. Taking pity on me that spring, my mom frequently applied First-Aid cream all over my blistery body while I popped steroids and hoped for relief.

I’ve obviously learned so much since my folly of youth.

Fast-forward to more recent matters. I had been hiding something out at the Studebaker farm: a pretty decent, seafoam green, 289-powered secret with power steering and brakes. I bought it in North Carolina about four years ago, while I was living in Germany, along with a very ragged parts car parked in the farm woods. Although the acquisition was prompted by the tragic loss of a dear friend, the upside was that I had the honor of finishing his project. The transatlantic transaction was brokered with the help of my longtime friend, Studebaker farm owner, and mentor, Truett. My dad, who has since filled my position as Studebaker farmhand, took part as well.

I’ve been storing the good Lark at the foundry storage, since I got that place sorted. Now that there was a place to put it that wasn’t my backyard, the bad Lark (aka parts car) could reenter the equation.

My wife and I hitched up yet another U-Haul trailer and arrived ready to pick up the car over Easter. This particular example had been sitting in the woods since before I started working there in 1997 or so. (It had a decade-long stint in a different forest before making its way back to a cow lot on the farm’s original acreage.) This may come as a shock: the car is not salvageable.

If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve gotta be tough… or at least resourceful.Matthew Anderson

Upon arrival, I started preparing the bad Lark for loading by removing parts that could, at best, impede our movement or, at worst, embed themselves in a fellow motorist’s windshield. Exhaust, loose glass, trim panels, and trash were all secured, disposed of, or made into makeshift upholstery. With a place to sit and a solid place for anchoring, Truett pulled the wobbly Lark around the silos and into an open staging area. Again acknowledging the unsavable nature of the hulking Stude, my father loaded the decrepit mass onto the trailer with a crunchy yet gentle shove from the Takeuchi track loader. (No good parts were harmed in this procedure.)

Note: There are a handful of old Studebaker Zip Vans still on the property. These operate, for my purposes, as quasi-mobile storage sheds. The first stop was one packed full of old shop manuals and radios. Truett was kind enough to leave me to my own devices and let me remove what I wanted. I loaded up an old AM radio that my Hawk was missing, along with a half dozen old books for the foundry’s blossoming library.

Next stop was yet another zip van, this one filled with bell housings, transmissions, and crankshafts. Not needing any cranks at that moment, I focused on gear-related items. Three forward gears coupled by fluid isn’t my preferred motorization option, plus my good Lark came with a manual pedal assembly. When Truett unearthed a GM T-5 five-speed and a two-year-only GM-patterned bellhousing, my project plans came into final focus.

Getting giddier with each chunk of metal.Matthew Anderson

My final task was to investigate a large patch of randomly strewn car parts buried in the dirt. Here, we return to the problem of poison ivy.

Some of these scattered parts were evidently covered in furry vines, whose 3 leaves had not yet emerged from winter dormancy. Unfortunately for me, self-preservation gets completely switched off when I see obscure foreign cars and their parts.

First to be unearthed: a Subaru FF1 instrument cluster. Too ragged to keep, I threw it back after rolling it around in my bare hands for a while. Following that, the remnants of an old Pacer that I had parted out in high school caught my eye. I snapped off the hairy vines standing between me and my future refrigerator magnets… er… Pacer emblems. What’s this I see? A Citroën DS roof? I wonder if there are any snakes under there. A flange axle Dana 44? I’ve got to at least flip it over to find an axle tag! Might as well touch my face while I’m at it!

I’ve had the itch, I have the itch. And I pray I’ll always have it.


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: First Look Review: 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV FWD 2RS


    What kind of seeds need to be planted to grow Studebakers I wonder, jokes aside I love a good car parts forage, it is my favorite form of meditation, I am jealous of the storage

    Hey Matt… did you happen to spot the 26 Studebakers listed on Hagerty Marketplace… all selling without reserve?!? Better build a new barn!

    LOL. Nice article!

    FYI Poison Ivy outbreak is transmitted via the oil on the plant. The oil stays on your skin and gets retransmitted to other parts via scratching, rubbing, etc. The best way to stop it is to scrub down the affected and potentially affected areas with some sort of degreaser. I found scrubbing with Dawn dishwashing liquid in the shower and thoroughly rinsing afterward eliminates spread and helps healing.

    My wife is highly allergic to PI. She swears by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for scrubbing up after exposure.

    Matthew, your writing is infectious. Another handy tip…after touching toxic vines it is a good idea not to relieve one’s self in the forest. We will not get into how I came by that bit of information.

    Great stories engagingly told. For future endeavors, Technu first then cold water only (warm opens the pores). On the other hand where would the focus be if not for a misadventure!

    News Item: dogs are apparently not affected by poison ivy. So after a nice run in the woods accompanied by rolling in it, my big fuzzy German Shepherds come out and rub their poison-y fur all over your legs. A miniskirt-and-halter wearing ex-girlfriend still won’t speak to me 10 years later.

    I lived in a cannon factory in New Orleans . When you live in a big empty space , folks always come up with things they want to put in it . So this guy Rafael Di Luzzio ( trans; angel of light ) brings over Estelle the 49 Champ Wow .She was green , what a beauty ; Raymond Lowey all the way . I used to sit in it .Jute and crank case fumes .Finally ; sell it to me or take it away , that was it . No one ever knew where I lived untill I said “you the place with the old green car ” Oh ya I know where that is ”
    I got flagged into the DDay museum opening day parade by accident in the way to work , talk about why I’m late excuses . Estelle got flooded all the way in Katrina . But Calhoun had one at his trailer in North Carolina, he’d been using it as his tractor . Back on the fragrant bench !!
    I’d found an aluminum Studebaker head , a old Edmund’s dual intake , put front discs on and she’s off to the mechanic with a lift getting a vacumb booster , rear leafs , and new old houdaille shocks . I think Hagerty should make a drive down cemetery

    I thought I had no idea what a Zip Van was, then I saw the photo and realized that I had a small plastic toy version of it as a kid. This brought back memories.

    I laughed out loud at “Might as well touch my face too” too! Photo captions are chuckleworthy as well. My poison ivy cure: rub with Scotch-Brite under running water. Damn near orgasmic itch satisfaction while rinsing away the offending oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *