jim H

Enter the Panther

My dad was not in any way "a car guy." To him, cars were appliances....good enough will do. So once i turned 16, he committed (to avoid my driving his company car) to help me buy my first car. I had about $100 saved up, so we went to Luby Chevrolet in Denver, where he had a "friend" who steered us to a "Tahaiti Coral Beige" Lark two door hard top with a flat six, three on the tree and radio and heater. He tought it a bargain for $500.

I believe from the get go it had a burned valve and proved to be the slowest car in the high school lot. Plus, the color to anyone but a Studebaker stylist, was simply pink. Only a pocket protector and glasses with tape could have made me more of a high scholl outcast.

So, the first summer break, I hooked up with a friend from junior high who had a Studebaker Avanti. How he got it is a whole other story. Anyway, he also had a mother who proivded his friends beer, a couple stall garage and what seemed like a lot of money.

Time to win back some pride. So a 259 c.i. Studebaker v-8 and automatic was pulled from a junked '56 President, and dropped into the Lark.

It weighed more than the six of course, but we didn't worry about springs (the new rake looked pretty darn good), or brakes (you just have to plan ahead) or steering (it was manual anyway, and I was a lot stronger back then).

The exhaust system suggestion came up just as the money stream hit the wall. So instead of a complete system, the last several feet of flexible exhaust tubing were stuffed with steel wool.

Except for constant overheating, it was marginally faster. But oh, the sound....much improved for teen-age ears. Because of its growl with four barrels open, it became universally known (at least in southest Denver) as the Pink Panther.

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