Edgar’s Studebaker

(1962) Edgar just turned 16 and and he told me that his father Frank Dawkins finally promised to buy him a used car. Edgar told his father that he needed a sharp looking car and decent power if he wanted to pick up a nice looking chick. His father said that he would make the choice, that it would be a sensible car but it would have unique styling.

No offense but Edgar and a stylish car don’t go together. So I was sure the chicks wouldn’t be fighting each other to get a ride with him. But when I saw him pull up to the high school parking lot in a dull green 2-door 1950 Studebaker I was absolutely certain. I noticed a group of girls were staring at Edgar’s wheels and laughing, probably at the bullet nose and the low rider look when the driver pulled up. The seats were low and the bottom of the window was high so that you looked like a small senior citizen tooling around Miami in a Cadillac. Or you could sit on something and straighten up, looking goofy.

We gathered around Edgar’s vehicle and someone asked him how much he paid for the Stupidbaker, that’s what the car was once called in an advertisement put out by Studebaker back in its heyday. And they had a good sales record during that period.

It had a 232.9 cubic inch V-8 with 120 horsepower from a lowly 7.0:1 compression ratio. Tom McCahill, a writer for the automobile industry said it was “a rip-roaring, hell-for-leather performer that can belt the starch out of every other American car on the road.”

What made McCahill so giddy was the test model went from 0-60 mph in 12.5 seconds and reached (after a while had passed) 100 mph. Maybe it was that bullet nose. But this was 1962 and there were plenty of real fast movers that year, for example the Chevy impala SS with a 427, 2-4-barrel carbs and a 4-speed transmission.  These super stocks would rumble up to the stop light, revving their engines, a signal challenging you to get ready for the green light. When the other driver looked back, grinned and revved his steed up, it was on.

Any way, it was transportation and Edgar made the best of it. When it rained, though, the doors filled with water and as he drove down the street the water slapped back and forth. When he made a right turn, the Studebaker leaned over to the left side, or in boat terms, it listed to port.

Well, he drained it and made some more holes in the bottom of the doors and it drove on a more level keel. But it didn’t really move that quickly. The first time after he stopped for a traffic light, he floored the pedal when the light turned green and the car’s automatic overdrive started to move, about 2 seconds later. Then it began to move seriously underneath the light and began to approach the 25 mph speed limit. Edgar told me he just slumped down in his seat.

The final humiliation was when he was driving home and noticed one of the girls from school walking home. It started to rain hard, and being a gentleman and seeing a chance to break through, he pulled over and asked if she needed a lift.

She said, “No thanks.”

“But it’s pouring down. You’ll get soaked.” He pleaded.

“That’s OK. It’s only a mile.” And she kept walking.

Edgar didn’t let that discourage him, though. He persisted in making a case for upgrading his ride and a year later his father bought him another car. It was a 56 four-door Nash Rambler with automatic and wide whitewalls and a tri-color factory paint job with the main color being pink. Edgar said that at least it’s more respectable. Click image. This report is based somewhat on similar events.

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