John C 1937 Studebaker Dictator Custom 4dr Sedan

Fell in love twice in the same year.

I learned a long time ago to say that I fell in love with my father- in-laws daughter and car in that car order. She was the cutest redhead in school and it was the coolest '37 Studebaker I ever saw. She became my high school sweetheart and shortly thereafter, when it was time for her Junior Prom, her dad offered to let me drive her there in his Stude. 45 years later we are still enjoying Saturday night cruises in the '37.

Ray bought his '37 from the original owner in '67 for $75. During the years he had the car he probably put fewer than 3,000 miles on it with it sitting in friends garages most of the time. When our son was probably eight years old he fell in love with the Stude as well and every time we went to visit my in-laws in Indianapolis we had to go see the car. I told my father-in-law that when he was ready to sell it I wanted to buy it. When he finally called and said he had to get it out of Red's garage in '97 I was too busy to do anything with it so I told him just to sell it and get what he could for it. I honestly thought it would be a mess having sat in one spot for at least 12 years with plywood and chain saws sitting on it and who knows what eating it. My son heard that I had said to sell it and he said "No dad we need that car". So my wife and I drove from Austin, Texas to Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend 1997 to pick it up and bring it back to life.

Pulling the car into the light again was amazing. Everything was there and amazingly straight. We got it home and went through it enough to ensure that all the engine parts were still together. Then we hooked up a battery, put gas in the carburetor, and cranked it over. It started like it had just been running five minutes before. The interior was shot, the paint was faded and the glass had delaminated but every screw and handle was still there, the grill was straight, the lines were as beautiful as the day I fell in love with her.

The Stude went in and out of storage as my job moved us around the country and over seas a couple of times but finally we moved to Phoenix and I committed to getting her back to her original glory. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to do so I trailered the Stude to Arizona Street Rods shop so Rod Palmer could give me his opinion. Rod took one look at her and said "Don't paint this car". My wife liked that because it saved us thousands of dollars. I liked the answer because it kept all the old character and patina the Stude deserved. Rod took care of the interior, putting correct material in and matching the old design. I have gone through the fuel, cooling, ignition and brakes to make sure it is all safe and dependable. It's not flashy and shiny like most of the cars we park next to at the Phoenix cruises but it gets more attention than most of them.

We drive our Stude every weekend in the winter (it's too hot to drive it in the summer) but it still only has 54,000 original miles. Someday my son can decide what he wants to do with it but since the first owner had it for 30 years and my father-in-law had for the next 30 my wife and I have another 13 or so years to enjoy the Stude before we hand her off. It is such a good ride.

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