George M 1939 Studebaker Champion 2dr Coupe

How I was cheated out of $15.00

My family lived in a rural area. I learned to drive when I was about 12 years old. The first time my dad let me get behind the wheel was coming home from the local store. It was a straight shot about a mile with one left turn into the driveway, I turned and thought I put my foot on the brakes but I hit the gas instead and side-swiped the side of the house. Boy, those old 41 Fords were tuff back then. Hardly any damage.

I was very mechanically inclined, I learned through osmosis from my dad. In my youth I had a 2 wheel bike that I would customize and soup up one way or another, but I had my eyes set on getting a Cushman motor scooter. A friend of mine at school had one. His father had a business out of his home selling scooters, they lived on main street in town so all those Cushman scooters were on display in his front yard. I couldn't have one because they were too expensive. I did buy a Whizzer motor bike for $20.00. We got it running, (my dad helped), it was cool but it was still only a bike with a motor on it, I rode it around town for a while. I traded the Whizzer for a Powel motor scooter. Something was broken in the starting mechanism. I drilled a hole in the clutch and stuck a small bolt in the clutch. This would make it a direct drive. I would push the scooter to start, and once it started, the bolt would fly out and I could ride around. The Powel had a 7 1/2 hp motor and the large tractor looking seat was bolted to the top of the motor. Boy, it was fast! The mechanical brakes were terrible and I took more than one spill on the gravel covered concrete street. My parents kept telling me to get rid of that thing before I killed myself. One day I got an opportunity to get my first car. I traded my Powel motor scooter for it. It was a 1939-1940 Studebaker coupe. I would read customizing and hot rod magazines and had visions of customizing it. I proudly drove my Studebaker. It was cool until I found out that the gas tank had a leak. Duped, so that's why I could trade my scooter for it.

I remember my dad taking an old 2 1/2 gal. Sears oil can and soldering a fitting onto it. He would use it as his fuel pump tester. By connecting this can up to the carburetor he was gravity feeding the fuel. He would disconnect the fuel pump, start the car and if fuel pumped out, he knew the pump was ok. There must have been a lot of trouble with fuel systems back then. I can remember watching and helping my dad remove the pump, disassembling it, and installing a new diaphragm and then I would help him reinstall the pump. I can recall doing the same thing early in my years working on cars.

If the oil can worked for testing fuel pumps, why couldn't it be used for a gas tank? I took dads oil can and set it on the motor behind the carburetor and connected it up. The engine ran well, I was in business. Since I no longer needed the gas tank, I removed the gas tank filler opening and leaded it in. My first attempt at customizing. I can recall one day my friends and I wanted to go to Twin Lakes and do some swimming, it was 27 miles one way. We all piled into my Studebaker, pooled our money for gas and headed off. We stopped at the first gas station and told the station attendant to fill her up. We all snickered as the attendant looked for the fuel filler. He couldn't find it. I told him it was under the hood. when he lifted the hood and saw the 2 1/2 gal. can we all laughed and he sold us 2 gallons of gas. I didn't have the car too long though, one day the guys and I decided to go mudding. There were some streets about a mile or so from the house that were all dug up to install new severs and paving. One of my buddy's girlfriend lived on one of the streets. We had a great time running up and down the streets until we got stuck. We couldn't get out. When we finally did get the car home I couldn't get it running anymore. So it sat in the front yard. Mom kept after me to het rid of that "piece of junk", but I had other ideas.

One day a man stopped by and wanted to buy my Studebaker. We negotiated and made a deal, $40.00, but he only had $25.00 with him. He asked if he could take the car home and work on it. He said I could keep the title until he paid me in full at the end of the week. He never paid me. I called him a couple of times but I was just a kid.

He cheated me out of $15.00.

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