- 1918 Studebaker Lite Four

My name is Brett Goldsworthy and I’m a member of the Studebaker Club and live in Twin Waters Sunshine Coast.

I own a 1918 Studebaker Lite Four I purchased from Victoria Farm Sale last year.

I wanted to touch base and just say hello, probably won’t be able to get to any of the meetings in Brisbane.

Attached are photos and information on the vehicle.

It’s road registered and drives well.








- “Studebaker John” and Lorna Venema

“Studebaker John” and Lorna Venema

Lorna and John Venema have been associated with the Studebaker Car Club of Qld since the inception of the club and John won a trophy at the first Concourse, held in 1970.  John passed away eight years ago. Lorna and John are members number #13 on the club membership roll. They were made Life Members of the club in 2019.

John and Lorna’s interest in Studebakers became an integral part of their lives as the years went by, but it was only a part of what were busy lives by anyone’s standards. Lorna was unable to separate out the Studebaker stories from other parts of their lives because they were all intertwined. So, onto some background.

John Venema arrived in Melbourne from Holland as a fifteen year old in 1950. He moved to Brisbane with his family in 1952. Lorna was also born in 1935 and came up to Brisbane in 1954. She and John met while roller skating. John’s interest in cars was already showing because he squired her around town in a 1939 La Salle.

John and Lorna married in 1956. From the beginning of their marriage John engaged in a range of entrepreneurial activities with Lorna’s active support.

An early Bread Run proved to be non-viable financially and was followed by work at the brick works. Later John moved on to self-employment as a brick layer while Lorna worked in clothing manufacturing factories.

In 1965 the family purchased an Austin Gypsy and Caravan and set off with their son Robert on an around Australia adventure, ending up settling in Darwin for six months while John and Lorna worked together as bricky and brickie’s labourer. They returned to Darwin for the bricklaying work two more times over the next few years to build good financial base for their marriage. Their daughter Melisa was born in 1966 and accompanied the rest of the family in the outback adventures.

On their return to Granard road Rocklea in 1967 the first Studebaker they owned was purchased, a 1957 President which is still part of the collection. The trusty Austin Gypsy was traded for this luxury Studebaker at Simpson Motors at Woolloongabba.

John developed a sideline of buying cars, improving them, and then moving them on. Over the years this resulted in scores of cars passing through the family’s hands. Initially, John had no preference for a particular marque and every type of vehicle from the familiar Australian makes to more exotic Simca’s, Citroens, Skoda, many American marques such as Cadillac, Rambler, Hudson Hornets, Trans Am, and British makes such as Jensen, Rover, and Jaguar found temporary homes with the Venema’s.

John had developed a strong friendship with Salisbury wrecking. Whenever a promising car came in John would get a phone call. At that time, some interesting and very sound cars ended up at Salisbury Wreckers and John was able to buy them for not much money.

Over the same period John and Lorna embarked on buying and selling cheap rental houses around Rocklea and building their own family homes over several decades. During their marriage John and Lorna owned twenty two properties and built five new homes, finishing with the beautiful home that now houses the Studebaker collection. They moved a little further south down Mt Lindsay Hwy every decade or so, taking advantage of the larger acreage but much cheaper properties, then selling when the area had developed. One of the larger homes built at Calamvale named ‘House of Studebaker’ was built using 55,000 bricks, and all of the cement and general hardware was carted back and forth over several months using a dark blue 1958 President wagon.

Between 1980 to 82 they ran a service station and shop called the roundhouse garage located at North Mclean. This business became very successful, but it proved to be very demanding. Seven days a week and long days. John still managed to find time to buy and sell cars. The site has now been redeveloped and is now a major BP garage.

During the 1970’s the Studebaker movement in Australia began to develop and John and Lorna enthusiastically participated. Travel to Melbourne via NSW to catch up with new friends in the new Studebaker clubs became an annual event. They owned two Studebaker Ambulances over the years which often provided cheap and cosy accommodation on the interstate runs. Invariably John would bring home a Studebaker or two. With Lorna either driving one of the cars home, or in some cases towing them all the way from the southern states. Pre internet these cars were found in the local newspapers, by word of mouth, or simply by cruising the back roads as the ‘pickers’ do now days.

By the 1980’s John and Lorna had developed a network of friends throughout Australia. By this time, the focus for vehicle purchases had shifted largely to Studebakers. Lorna remembers seven or eight Presidents, Champions and Commanders and many Larks of all types and even a Rockne. Lorna reckons about 35 Studebakers have gone through their sheds. John did many up over the years and they regularly won major trophies at the State and National meets. John preferred originality but occasionally dabbled on the custom side. In the later years John discovered that by fitting Stainless exhaust and silicon fluid brake systems, that he could basically fire any Studebaker up after sitting for many months and go for a trouble free cruise. So, most of the current collection have been converted in this way.

A particular interest for John was the 6X6 Studebakers fitted with the 320ci Hercules 6 cylinder side valve. John used these trucks to pull down a house once and used to have fun parking one against a massive gum tree in low low range, just above idle, with all wheels churning away in the dirt. Proving they would go anywhere if they could get traction. He bought his first in Melbourne and the delivery journey to Brisbane took three days at 35mph, and who can guess how much petrol. This truck was followed by six others. All ex Australian army, some had done a second life as house removal rigs, quarry trucks, or one was a fully set up bush Fire brigade truck. By this time, it had become known that if you needed one of these trucks, John was your man. He took part in the 17 Studebaker 6×6 trucks parade at Southport in 2007. John’s was #9 in the parade, see it at Seventeen WWII Studebaker US6 trucks – YouTube This example had never been used outside of the Australian army so was very low milage and was ‘as new’ after John refurbished it front to back. In fact, he painted it matching the correct ‘olive drab’ as per the NOS parts he received from the US. The 6×6 spent a long time in the collection, having been eventually sold to a Military collector in Wagga in 2016.

John and Lorna’s Studebakers car have featured at more than 10 weddings and many graduation parades for close friends and family. John and Lorna’s House of Studebaker at Calamvale featured on television Channel 10 and 7 in the 80’s with John being interviewed while driving along in a light blue topless 1957 President. This car was purchased with a crushed roof, so John cut it off, and reinforced the lower structure making a convertible top to suit. John’s famous line was that he preferred driving ‘real steel’ V8 car rather than a modern ‘Tupperware’ car. When asked about how much fuel it used, John states that Studebaker won the most economical car trials in the US for several years running, so he could purchase this beautiful big car and run it for years for a lot less money than buying a Datsun. The 6×6 was also driven by John as part of the US military trucks driving through town in ‘Fields of Fire’ miniseries filmed in the late eighties which included a cameo by Kylie Minogue.

John and Lorna also developed a soft spot for American Motors Javelins, owning six over time with two of the rarer 401ci examples still remaining in the family collection. They won the US Trans Am racing series three times and were used by various Highway Patrols in the US to pursue some of the other muscle cars of the era. 2 of only 84 delivered in Australia.

Over the years travel to the New Zealand Studebaker Nationals and America to attend the International Meets greatly increased their circle of friends. Lorna worked out that over the years they logged more than 90,000 miles travelling around America. They visited the Studebaker International events eight times, caught up with new Studebaker friends and travelled the tourist routes. Lorna made her last American trip solo in 2016. She since went to the National Studebaker meet in Sweden in 2018 and then the national meet in the Netherlands the next year.

American car purchases were a 1960 Lark VI convertible imported in 1988 that was sold on to the Kramer family, a 1951 Champion Business Coupe which was recently sold to Mike Lynch, and a 400ci Chev powered 1972 Avanti II that Lorna still drives regularly.

Until the last couple of years Lorna continued to regularly participate in Studebaker events all around Australia, driving herself in her trusted Avanti. The Venema family drove four of the Studebaker collection to the National meet in Toowoomba in 2019. Friends that Lorna met in Sweden the previous year also flew over and attended that meet.

The last two years have been frustrating for Lorna as Covid led to the closing of state borders and the cancellation of most Studebaker club and national events. Lorna fell over last year, broker her arm, and damaged her shoulder very severely. Treatment of the injury has been less than satisfactory, and the healing process has been delayed. Currently she has recovered enough to be able to drive again. Lorna proudly told me that she has never received a traffic violation.

At 86 years of age Lorna is still very proud of the Studebaker collection her and John put together and is assisted by her son Rob to keep the cars clean and a selection still registered and on the road. Only minor work required for any of them to be roadworthy.

The current car collection:

1957 Red and White President four door sedan. The Venema’s first Studebaker which was purchased in 1967. The 289ci, four barrel carb, automatic. Car is still completely original condition.


  1960 Champ. This car was found on a goat farm near Wagga Wagga in very rough condition. The previous owner would not agree to sell at first but later changed her mind. By this time purchased in 1978 the truck had been crashed into a stump and engine overheated, so needed a complete mechanical overhaul and major body work. A president diff was fitted to improve the road speed. Bill Cunnington once again painted the truck and also used a unique technique to imitate woodgrain in the interior of the Champ using stale beer during the painting process. The Champ won people’s choice at the large Coolies car meet on the Gold Coast.


1955 Lime Green Champion. Four door purchased in 1978 from a wrecker in Cundall Town. The car was left in the yard for sale on behalf of the original owner and it was lovingly cared for during his ownership.

1947 M16 3 tonne truck. Purchased from Mr Cronin from Daylesford, Victoria in 1979 where it was used to cart grain on his wheat farm. It has a unique Trojan PTO and hoist cylinder for the tray.






1947 Red Champion convertible. This car was purchased in Rooty Hill, Sydney in 1980 Originally owned by the American film star Ann Baxter, she left it behind after her marriage to an Australian broke up.


1962 Lark. Purchased in 1980. A very original car that was purchased in Geelong. Only ever had a head gasket replaced and a paint job. Interior still had plastic on it when purchased. Last big trip was Wagga National Meet in 2016.


1950 – 51 ? Maroon Champion. Four door sedan purchased in Victoria in 1982. Very original car recently repainted.

1960 Hawk. Purchased by Bill Cunnington in 1983 and restored later in the 1980’s using NOS doors, rear fins and full engine and suspension overhaul. John purchased the Hawk when Bill was unable to drive the car anymore. Bill and John collaborated on refurbishing many cars together with Bill providing the painting skills required. Although they fell victim to the Wattyl spray putty quality issue in the 1980’s resulting in several cars paint lifting ten years after being sprayed- still fixing those.


1953 Champion. Four door sedan purchased in 2017, another very original car.

1955 Blue Champion. Two door sedan. Purchased in 2020 from Darryl Pettigrew here in Brisbane.


1972 AMC Silver Javelin 401ci. Owned about thirty years and purchased in Maroochydore.

1997 MGF roadster. Lorna’s fun car.

- Harold & Phyllis Ireland – Studebaker Story

Harold and Phyllis Ireland.

In 1946, after the 2nd World War, cars and light trucks were a scarce commodity. At that time, my father Walter started to rebuild cars and utilities for people in the South Pine Area, where he rebuilt early Chevs, Fords and other makes for the farmers in the area. 

My father’s family car then was a 1930 model Oldsmobile tourer which he bought new. He later bought home on the back of one of his trucks, a 1938 Studebaker four door sedan, which from new had been an Ascot Taxi in Brisbane City. It had been sold stripped down, so it was a ground up restoration, and was put back on the road in 1946. He later sold it to me in 1952, before my marriage to Phyllis in 1952. After close to 100,000 miles of family motoring I sold it to a friend in North Queensland in 1957. I found another Studebaker 8A sedan, which after minor restoration, entailing new upholstery and paint I put on the road in 1958.

This vehicle was a day to day and week to week transportation for our young family. Phyllis had learnt to drive, acquiring her licence thus becoming the family chauffeur for school and sporting activities. I was very time poor because I was operating three trucks in my daily transport business and Mobil Fuel Agency. I supplied the local farming community with their farm fuel tanks and kept them topped up.

We upgraded for our family needs with a 1958 V8 Studebaker Commander sedan which we acquired from the original owners in 1966. They had bought the car new in Brisbane before moving to Maryborough. In 1968 we were able to purchase one of the last four Studebakers sold by Howards in Brisbane. This car was fitted with the Chev motor.

In 1972 I was able to upgrade to a 1964 Studebaker Cruiser, which was a low mileage car, sold by Howards in Brisbane, not long before Studebaker stopped production in the USA with the 1965 models. Our 1964 Cruiser did a lot of interstate trips when we were breeding and showing our German Shepherd dogs, travelling to Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne on a yearly basis.

After selling my transport run and fuel agency in 1984, I started helping my aged father in completing cars that were at the restoration stage, and making repairs on other makes of vehicles, on a full time basis.

Other Studebakers that I have restored since then have been  Studebaker Champ utility, a 1963 Lark sedan, a 1948 Studebaker Commander Land Cruiser four door sedan and at present a 1947 Starlite sedan two door which I hope to finish in the latter half of 2022.

My father Walter bought the 1948 Studebaker LandCruiser from NSW twenty years prior to my completing the restoration. I wanted to restore this car and so it had been a project for many years, in my workshop, at Narangba, when I had a little extra time to do the restoration. I took the body off the chassis, and started from the ground up, converting it over to right-hand drive. I was fortunate to have a new right-hand drive dash panel in stock, which made the job a lot easier.

I attended to all the mechanicals, even overhauling a replacement for the missing motor. It has turned out well, and it is now registered on Club plates. I managed to replicate the original peacock blue colour from the Studebaker recipe, made up for the paint-job. In some lights it seems to favour the greenish colour, and in shade light the bluish tint is more obvious It has many admirers and is a fairly scarce model here in Queensland. I had all the wood-graining of the interior redone, which turned out well.

Harold Ireland

- Clive Summers- Studebaker Story

Clive Summers – Studebaker Story

As told to Ross Oldman.

I became interested in Studebakers as a nine-year-old when my teacher turned up with a pale green 1948 sedan. This car was replaced with a 1951 Bullet Nose sedan that was later replaced by a 1954 Commander sedan. By the time I left school I was a confirmed Studebaker admirer.

My working life started as a carpentry apprentice in the family building company, and I progressed on to site foreman, project management, estimator and running the business for fifteen years.

I did not act on my desire to own a Studebaker until 1982 when I joined the SCCQ club, and I was looking for a suitable club car when I purchased a 1951 Champion Bullet Nose sedan in 1983 to use as my Studebaker Car Club of Queensland club car.

The car was in fair to good condition, but I tasked a friend Bill Cunnington with a body on restoration that included a colour change from Red to Green.

As purchased

Under restoration by Bill Cunnington

Once Bill had finished his work on the car, it was taken in for a wheel alignment. Unfortunately, it was then discovered that accident damage had shortened the chassis up an inch on one side. The car was hydraulically straightened but I was always disappointed with the steering and the handling.

I moved this car on by auction at Giltrap’s on the Gold Coast at a significant loss.

In 1985 I decided to try my hand at Studebaker ownership once more.

I purchased a pale Blue 1965 Cruiser that was in excellent condition which provided good service until 1992. Although this car was kept on full registration it was primarily used for club activities. This car was also sold through Mr. Car’s at Broadbeach in 1992.

 In 1996 I purchased my 1955 Hard Top President from John Coles. A left hand drive car in very sound condition I had the paint touched up by Ron Ward and kept the car in the original black. A pleasant car to drive and kept until 2015 when it was sold to John Cosgrove. During my ownership this car was maintained by Michael Cosgrove, and he provided me with excellent service.


I made many good friends within the club in those early years and was a very active member until about six years ago. Harold and Phyllis Ireland, Michael and Louise Cosgrove, John and Julie Cosgrove, Mike Kelly, Tracey Capel, Des Skinner, Christopher Skinner, Bill Cunnington, John Cornelius, Gordon McLachlan, Dick and April Adsett, and Athol Lubbe are names that come to my mind today, but I am sure that there are many that I cannot bring to mind at the moment. I was the club librarian for twenty two years.

 Although I am no longer an active club member, I have many fond memories of my time with the club, and I still take an active interest in club affairs.





















- SCCQ Club Member – Jim Dack’s Studebaker 1955 Speedster Restoration Story

1955 Speedster – Jim Dack – SCCQ

I was introduced to Studebakers by a work colleague when I was doing my apprenticeship as a fitter and turner.

In 1973 at the age of eighteen I purchased a 1964 Cruiser, unfortunately this car was written off less than a year later when I was T boned at an intersection. I replaced the Cruiser with a 1963 two door Lark that I purchased as a rolling chassis. This car was an ex police car from Victoria. I transferred all the running gear from my Cruiser to the Lark. Between the years 1976 to 1978 this car was used extensively for drag racing as well as my road car.

A process of continuous improvement meant that I became well versed in getting the best performance out of the Studebaker V8. The two door was fitted with a 5.4 ratio differential and a wide ratio top loader gearbox. The car was competitive on the track and proved to be dependable providing 7,500 rpm was not exceeded. Typical launch revs and gear changes were within the 6,500 – 7,500 rev range.

I purchased a barn find 1965 Cruiser with the Chevrolet engine from John Venema in 1982. After recommissioning this car was a reliable family car for the next nine years. I was looking for a project car in 2007 and found an advertisement for the Speedster which had been put up for sale by Bob Clark of Victoria. By chance when browsing through a Just Cars magazine in the workshop crib room.

A Speedster was a worthwhile project even though the condition of the car would ensure that it was a major project requiring a nut and bolt restoration. A top of the line Studebaker product that had seen only a little over two thousand cars built this car appealed to me as the only extensive restoration project that I am likely to undertake. My 1955 Speedster was a Californian car that was ordered on the 16/12/1954 and completed final assembly on the 30/12/1954.

Body number 177 and serial number 7805763.

The original owner of the car was shot dead in the car in Lennox California in 1989. I have saved the right hand rear side glass complete with two bullet holes as a memento of the car’s history. The car was sold on the18/10/1989 and again on the 07/11/1989 when it went to an Arizona purchaser. On the23/05/1998 the car returned to California to a new owner.

Judging by the poor condition of the car when I purchased it, I do not believe that any of these owners actually drove the car. I purchased the car on the 13/08/2007. The car was registered in Queensland on the 07/08/2014.

When I received the car, it was overall in a very poor state and the engine was seized. However, it was almost complete, and was pretty straight in the body. Rust repairs required the replacement of the front floor plates and door sills. The front and rear mudguards on the Left hand side required repair panels to be welded in. The chassis also required repair.

My work as a heavy equipment diesel fitter provided me with access to well equipped workshops where I could work in my own time on the car. These facilities were not available to me in my own garage. Had I waited until my retirement to complete this project the work would have been much more difficult and time consuming.

It was my intention to do as much as possible of the restoration work myself. The more work that I could do myself the more satisfaction that I would feel in the completed project. I progressively disassembled the car and restored all the parts as I went along. When it came to rebuilding the engine, I applied the experience I had earlier gained with Studebaker V8’s. I wanted a car with better highway driving characteristics than was available from the standard 259 Cubic inch motor.

I installed a camshaft of my own specification, and the heads were ported and polished. Roller lifters and heavy duty valve springs were fitted. I switched from the original carburettor to a Holley 600 4160 that uses a vacuum secondary system. It worked straight out of the box and has been a very good option for not a lot of money.

I also fitted an engine oil cooler. I rebuilt the automatic gearbox and the differential. I sent all the gauges out to Otto Instruments here in Brisbane for refurbishment and I was happy with the outcome. When stripping the car, I confirmed that the original paint work was Pimlico Gray and Congo Ivory. I prepared the car for painting and painted it in my home garage. The result was very satisfactory from my perspective and well worth the time and effort.

Repairing the chrome and stainless was a major expense and involved a lot of time and effort. I polished all the stainless myself. The drip rail mouldings had a lot of tiny dents that required a lot of work to remove before polishing. All of the chrome required redoing. Finding a good chrome plater and dealing with him involved many trips to his premises and some difficult discussions before the work was completed.

The pot metal parts were severely pitted prior to chrome plating and as expected the result was less than perfect. However, given the material and the condition of these parts the result was probably the best that could be hoped for. The front bumper had to be redone a couple of years later as blisters developed in the chrome.

Shortly after starting the restoration, I ordered an interior kit from Phantom Autoworks in the US. The kit was not cheap but worth it in for the quality provided. I fitted this kit myself. All this aside, the kit sat in large boxes in the shed for two years before my wife noticed their presence. As this kit was the largest single purchase for the restoration this delay in learning of the cost softened the impact somewhat of the high cost of the purchase.

As an active member of the SCCQ the Speedster gets out and about on a regular basis. The money, time and effort have been well worthwhile.

- SCCQ Club Member – Doug Murphy’s Studebaker Story

Doug Murphy – 1947 Champion and 1989 Avanti Convertible

I was about 10 years old when a Studebaker first grabbed my attention. It was the rear of a grey 47 or 48 parked in the open doors garage of a sheep and wheat property ‘Bull Plains’ near Corowa. We pupils were on a holiday stay, coming from ‘backwards Balmain’. Our teacher had taught at the one teacher school at Rennie.

Then, when I was about 19, I spotted a 47 or 48 in a car yard on Oxford St in Sydney. The Bank of Dad said he would not lend me money to buy the Studebaker and so I was saddled up with a Fiat 1400. This had the benefit I learned a lot about rebuilding an engine, gearbox, brakes and more. All was quiet for many years till a young friend of mine, Carl, who was really interested in art, fashion, design and style, waxed lyrical about Studebaker styling and he reignited my interest. As Coco Channel said style endures, fashion doesn’t. Well, my EH Holden had to go, and I bought a 63 Lark Cruiser. It was a terrific family car. But I wanted a Hawk, Harold Ireland had one, a 62, and I bought it. It was a British Racing Green colour with half roof black vinyl. It’s engine just loved oil. Another 62, a cream one came up for sale and this one became my daily driver (something I wouldn’t do now, but that was the era). Dale Fisher in Sydney had a 62 Hawk parts car for sale, so I flew down and drove it back. Cautiously. Then a 1960 Lark convertible came up, it was a project car and needed a lot of work. I was in the chips at the time.  It was a good lesson in restoration, it took about seven years and happened because Mike Cosgrove knew every nut bolt. There was a freelance panel beater around at the time, Peter the Dutchman, and he did a splendid job as did Ralph the motor trimmer.  A few years later it was finished, and I drove it for a couple of years, but fell on hard times and had to sell it.

So, for some time, I had no Studebaker, but Mike Brazier had a restored 47 he wanted to sell it. It had been fully restored by a Mr Doug Cribb. I suppose the chance to buy this 47 was like meeting up with a long lost friend, the grey one in the garage all those year ago. It brings me great pleasure driving this car, it’s high set and it’s really 1930’s mechanicals beneath late 1940’s styling. This Raymond Loewy styled car changed car styling forever, now cars had straight sides, headlights in the mudguards (and not between the guards and radiator).

I had always thought restoration of one car would be a cure-all, but no, being a beggar for punishment, I bought a 1959 Simca Vedette project car. I have always been the ‘go for’ and I bought parts in Canada, France, NZ, the US and Aus. It was fun. It would never have come together without the expertise of Studebaker Mike (as the kids called him), Peter Davies the magician with metal and fibreglass, and Ray Clayton who spent his working life with DC current on boats. Restoration of the 47 has involved a respray (paint work in parts was blotchy over time) and a changeover to electronic ignition (still 6V).

Around 2019, I got to thinking about an Avanti, a convertible. I joined the Avanti Owners’ International Association and learned a lot. A 1989 convertible came up for sale in NY, it had two previous owners, one lived in Chicago, and this was his daily driver. For the second owner who lives in NY, this was his Sunday best car. Through the AOAI, you can learn a lot about any Avanti. Before buying, I had the car inspected and it got a B+ grading. The inspection in retrospect got an N. Previous owners had spent a lot on it, but when it arrived, it was in poor shape. Part of the underneath was badly rusted, these were the skis or paddles which attached the fibre glass body to the chassis (earlier ones were called ‘hog troughs). It was odd, the chassis itself was rust free but the paddles had rusted through.

I have seen some odd restorations over time, like a $20-30k paint job but without replacing fuel hoses and brake hoses etc. The same with old electrical wiring, it’s a recipe for a most disastrous fire.

So, I’m saying, it’s not only wear and tear that affects a vehicle, things like rubber bushes, hoses and plastics are affected by age. Part of the appeal is the 87-89 models sit on a Chev Caprice chassis with a Chev small block 305ci engine, with a TH700R4 auto transmission. So, the car has overdrive, power steering and air conditioning. This combo makes for a modern car. For a time there, I think I must have been one of Rockauto’s best customers. Studebaker Mike worked wonders as did Peter and Ray and I would like to acknowledge and thank each for their contribution. For my part, the Studebaker journey has been exciting, and I think the 47, 53 and Avanti styling by Raymond Loewy are real icons. For me, the association has been a great pleasure.   

- SCCQ Club Member – Ross Oldman – Restoration of 1960 Studebaker Hawk

Ross Oldman – 1960 Hawk

I am a New Zealander, born in the town of Balclutha in Otago in 1953 and the oldest of thirteen children, six boys and seven girls from my father’s two marriages. My father was an absolute car nut who I am sure owned more than a hundred cars over his lifetime. Whenever he had a car in good running condition that seemed to be the time to sell it and start another project. He was a very good self-taught mechanic, and he actively passed these interests on to his sons and daughters. To his disappointment only three of us caught his disease.

We were living on Bank Peninsula when he taught me to drive at the age of fourteen as in New Zealand you can sit for your driver’s licence at fifteen. The vehicle of choice was a 1938 Ford V8 three tonne truck that was fitted with cable brakes and a four speed crash gearbox.

For those not familiar with Banks Peninsula it is made up of two adjacent volcanic cones and the roads are steeper than any you are likely to find in most of Australia. Dad was a hard taskmaster. I was taught to double clutch and to change gear both up and down without using the clutch. The brakes were to be used only when absolutely necessary. He was very concerned with teaching me mechanical sympathy and as a result I have hated to see a vehicle abused ever since. All this is by way of explaining my interest in cars and why the engineering and styling are important to me.

My interest in Studebakers started with my joining the All American car club in Cairns. At the time I was driving a 1972 Mercedes coupe, which while it was a lovely car was definitely not American. Pauline and I decided to join the American contingent by buying an American car in late 2002. The club had about a hundred members and all the popular makes and models were well represented. None of them really aroused my interest. I had spotted a Hawk on the tablelands at a car show near Mareeba around 1988 and this car had made a positive impression.

Further research showed that while Studebakers were significantly cheaper than more popular makes and models, they offered well engineered cars with great style and parts support was excellent here in Australia. I was discussing my options with a good friend, and I mentioned to him the virtues of the R series of engines when coupled with a four speed close ratio gearbox. A few weeks later he alerted me to a 1960 coupe on eBay in Tucson Arizona. The car was fitted with an R2 engine, close ratio gearbox and the limited slip differential.

I contacted the membership officer of the Studebaker club in Phoenix Arizona who gave me the phone number of a member who was inspecting the car for fellow club members in the Western states. We spoke for about an hour and a half going through the comprehensive report that he had prepared. Those who had commissioned his report had lost interest because the car is not original. A home made dashboard had been installed. This was of a high quality, wood grain veneer and was chock full of all sorts of gauges including temperature gauges for the supercharger, the gearbox, and the differential. He reported a good paint job, and I have kept the colour because it suits the car. The interior was black and in good condition. He was not able to drive the car off the property, but he believed that mechanically the car was in good condition. He did say that the car had been sitting undercover and unused for an unknown period of time.

Currently the car was in the ownership of a man who had a collection of cars that qualified for the Pure Stock and Nostalgic drag circuit. He had purchased the car from an owner in Texas who had built the car in the early 1970’s and had sold it due to advancing age. A recent heart attack had resulted in an ultimatum from his wife that he must reduce his collection down to a minimum of eight cars and the Studebaker did not make the cut to stay. Probably because a close ratio gearbox and 3.31 differential ratio are far from ideal for drag racing.

The car was heavily modified, and it is possible that it was a six cylinder, automatic when built. The records of the Jetthrust Registry showed that engine was out of a Black 1963 Super Hawk that was delivered with an automatic gearbox. The close ratio T10 gearbox was mounted to the engine using the correct bell housing, so it is likely that it came out of another Studebaker. It came with a Hurst shifter that has since provided very good gear changes.

The differential was a Dana limited slip with 3.31 gear ratios so it may have been removed from the Super Hawk. I somewhat nervously decided to bid for the car based on the information provided from the inspection. Due to the location in America and the time difference I remember being on line at an ungodly hour when I won the auction. I arranged shipping via Long Beach California using a company and the car arrived without too many issues in October of 2003.

When taken out of the shipping container the car presented very well and Pauline and I were reassured that the risk we had taken buying the car sight unseen had paid off. Our hopes of driving the 1600 kilometres back to Cairns were dashed by brake problems so instead the car made the first of many visits to Mike Cosgrove’s in Jimboomba and we flew home. Mike overhauled the entire braking system, installed seat belts, and completed a comprehensive review of the car, repairing anything that required attention.

When finished we arranged shipment to Cairns. For the next two years we drove the car a lot on club runs. In Cairns a club run is by necessity often a long run and we clocked up a lot of miles. Late in 2005 Pauline and I decided that we would tackle a body on refurbishment, and this started in October 2006.

Pauline’s role was parts co-ordinator. My role was do everything else. We had negotiated a paint job that included any necessary panel repairs with a friend for $12,000. Pauline and I put together a budget of $20,000 which proved to be an under estimate of at least $20,000. I was given one side of a two car carport and set to work removing the motor and gearbox. I stripped the interior and set to work removing all the panels for paint stripping to bare metal.

The interior floors and boot were in very good rust free condition, so I ground off any surface rust and applied copious amounts of PR15 paint. This was followed by Dynamat on all the floor surfaces, in the doors and under the roof. The bare body and panels were then delivered for painting. The gearbox was fitted with new bearings, synchromesh and seals but was found to be in excellent condition.

Harold Ireland supplied a new clutch and pressure plate. I stripped enough of ancillary items off the engine to ensure a good paint job. The sump and valley cover were re-chromed. Chris Skinner supplied 1961 bucket seats, centra console and a replacement dashboard that included all the correct gauges. He also secured a Delco Remy combination generator and power steering pump which Mike Cosgrove rebuilt to ensure reliability. This unit was necessary because two years without air conditioning in Cairns had been a real trial and discouraged use of the car on very hot days. Without the expertise of Chris, we would not have known that such an option existed, and the unit has provided trouble free service since fitting.

Pauline and I found that the parts suppliers were most helpful, and we bought something from most of them. A Vintage Air system was secured and supplied our first expensive lesson on the American way when it comes to shipping. Despite extensive consultation between us showing that we wanted the cheapest shipping method possible, and that time of delivery was not an issue the system turned up on air freight at a greater cost for shipping from Florida than the system itself cost. It is a good thing that the air conditioning has proven to be trouble free and very efficient, but you do not forget or forgive these things.

Our research showed that Phantom Autoworks provided the best quality interior kits, so we went ahead with a purchase. Unfortunately, we found that at the time of the purchase ownership had changed and when it came to fitting the kit it was found that the fit was less than ideal, and our upholsterer had some difficulty with the installation. The painting was completed mid-year and I started to put the car back together. The most difficult jobs for me was installing the door mechanisms and the mouldings around the fins.

I had bought fastening kits and I found these kits to be a godsend. I was surprised when stripping the car to find that not a single nut or bolt was rusted up and seized. This showed to me that the car had been pretty much completely stripped during the rebuild in Texas. Towards the end of 2007 I was informed that I had a new position in Brisbane and therefore a permanent move was necessary. The pressure was on to finish the Hawk ready for shipment in November. The car was made roadworthy two days before shipment. Surprisingly, we were able to drive the car reliably and without too many teething problems straight away.

Once I was able to attend club meetings and get to know the resources that are available around SEQ I realised just how much cheaper the refurbishment would have been in Brisbane and how many errors and complications could have been avoided. Having said that I have no regrets. This was likely to be the only time that I get involved with such a comprehensive project. The project was finished in a very short time period and no major setbacks were met. Pauline and I worked with a lot of very helpful people when looking for parts and were provided with very good advice along the way.

In 2009 the engine was completely rebuilt and at the same time Michael Cosgrove rebuilt the supercharger. It was agreed that the supercharger rebuild would be done with sufficient tolerances to ensure both reliability, lower operating temperatures and a longer life. The supercharger produces 2 lb to 3 lb of boost at 2,500 – 3000 revs. Maximum is 5 lbs at 5,200 revs which of course the engine never sees. I view the Paxton more as an interesting example of Studebaker’s engineering than a true performance enhancement.

At the time of writing, I have bought an electronic distributor which is currently having the timing curve calibrated to suit the R2 engine. It will be interesting to see if this proves to be an upgrade over the standard dual point distributor. I have had persistent issues with hesitancy on acceleration that we have been unable to eliminate. The current distributor seems to work best with a lot of advance but has to be dialled back to manage “pinging” and engine over run on shutdown. Studebaker blogs seem to have as many opinions as there are options on timing the R2. A persistent theme is that the engines need a lot of advance and that it should come in fairly early in the rev range. The new distributor will be set up for 12o on the crank and with the balance coming in around 2,500 revs. Trial and error will tell us what the total advance will be.

The hawk has given years of pleasure to both Pauline and I, and we have no intention of ever selling the car while we can still drive it. Currently we have done over 31,000 miles in the car since the restoration was completed.

- SCCQ Club Member – Gus Trouchet – 51 Bullet Nose Studebaker

By January of 2021, my Studebaker collection included a Champ, 1961 Hawk and a 1963 Hawk GT. The car that I felt was missing was a bullet nose V8 coupe or convertible.

I started looking around Australia for a suitable car to purchase and soon discovered that these models were rare in Australia and that my chances of finding one that was a driveable car in good condition were not good.

I was very concerned about the risks associated with importing a car from America at a time when it would be impossible to personally view a potential purchase due to Covid 19 travel restrictions. Like everyone else in the classic car hobby, I was well aware of the horror stories attached to cars arriving here in Australia in much worse condition than the buyers had been led to believe during the purchasing process.

During my research when looking for a suitable car I had developed a trusting relationship with Vas who owns a Caloundra, Queensland based company, “Iconic American Imports”. Vas provided me with a very detailed proposal to manage the inspection of the car using the services of a network of experienced mechanics to prepare a condition report, transport to Los Angeles for preparation for shipping, shipping and management of import paperwork and port and custom clearances in Brisbane. Once I had selected a suitable car for purchase, Vas would firm up this proposal and provide a fixed cost for his services.

I found this car in early February of this year on HaggleMe, a web based service that specialises in selling cars for clients who prefer to have an agent manage the selling process. The car was advertised as being located in Indiana, in very original condition and had been used as a daily driver by the family for a long time. The photos provided indicated that the car deserved further investigation. I asked Vas what his experience with HaggleMe was and he assured me that he had previously had good dealings with the company.

On that basis I commissioned a report on the car. The cost of this report was higher than I would have expected to pay in Australia, but the scope of the inspection and report was to be very detailed. I commissioned the report a couple of days after finding the advertisement and the report arrived about ten days later.

When it arrived, the report ran to some sixty pages and included numerous photos. The substance of the report was that the car was an honest and original car that has been well cared for by the owner. The faults identified were not major and were to be expected in a car that was seventy years old.

Vas offered to assist me with negotiating a purchase price that was acceptable to the seller and myself. Once the purchase price was agreed between us, I paid a deposit in mid-February to reserve the car. Early in March the purchase arrangements were completed.

The car was transported to Los Angeles and an asbestos inspection was completed. The front brakes shoes needed to be removed as a result of this inspection and the car was left with rear brakes only for shipment. A bio clean was performed and the car was transported to port for transhipment. At this time shipping out of America had been significantly slowed by the impact of Covid 19 on the operations of both ports and shipping schedules. Unfortunately, prior to shipment America Customs selected the container of cars that included mine for a random inspection.This inspection resulted in my car missing the ship and further delays resulted as a new ship was found.

As a result of these shipping delays it was August before the car arrived in Brisbane. At this point Australian Customs discovered a discrepancy in the shipping documents that appears to have been related to incorrect recording of chassis or engine numbers in the US. As a result, the car went into the bond warehouse for several weeks while “Iconic American Imports” resolved the issue.

My first impressions of the car when it was delivered to my home were very positive as the car exceeded my expectations. The car is in excellent original condition as the condition report had indicated. Until this could be verified in person I was of course prepared for some disappointment. Since delivery, the faults that were identified have been verified, but no significant new faults discovered.

I intend to keep the car as close to original and as delivered as possible. However, I have had disc brakes and electric power steering fitted to all my Studebakers as these changes improve safety, improve driveability, and do not in my view compromise the integrity of the cars. Fitting the power steering will require changing the column gear shift to a floor shift. Fitting the disc brakes will require the use of Ford wheel rims. I intend to protect and preserve the existing paint work as much as is possible, despite some cracking and weathering.

Despite my original reluctance to import a car sight unseen I am very pleased that I persevered. My faith in Vas and his support team in America has been justified by the outcome achieved.


















- SCCQ Run to Macleans Bridge Car Festival at Belmont – May 2021

A handful of SCCQ members made the best of a beautiful sunny day to display their cars at the annual Maclean’s Bridge Sports and Classic Car Festival at Belmont Rifle Range.
Member Bill Beverley took out the trophy for “Best in Show American Car”  with his 1937 Packard Convertible.
Photo of SCCQ Members cars at the display. Left to right:
Bill Beverley – 37 Packard,  Dennis Jewsbury – 63 GT , Gus & Carol Touchet – Champ, Dennis Jewsbury – Hawk,  Phil & Sheree Copelin – Lark,  Jim McKinnon – Thunderbird.

- “My 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk Project” by Member John Cosgrove

My 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk Project

The Hawk project started in 2002. It was purchased from Melbourne and transported to Queensland. The condition can only be described as “unassembled”.


There was lots of rust and what we thought was most of the car was only a very small part of what was required to get it on the road.

I started by getting the chassis and the body dipped in a tank to clean the metal and remove paint. The body came out with less metal and lots of holes. The job was getting bigger and more expensive.

I started by coating the chassis with POR Chassis paint then welded up the cracks in the front crossmember and chassis. Rear springs bushes replaced and springs fitted to the chassis. Front end rubbers replaced and fitted to chassis. My brother Michael then designed and fitted discs and callipers to the spindles. This involved designing an adapter plate for the spindle assembly to attach the PBR callipers. A dual master cylinder was fitted to the chassis in the same location as the original and new brake lines fitted. I had a stainless fuel tank made and fitted it to chassis. The diff was cleaned and assembled with new brake shoes etc. and fitted to the chassis. At this point the chassis was nearly completed and only needed a steering box.


 The next job was the body. For many years the body was like a permanent fixture on Gordon Thallon’s shed ceiling. It had coloured lights draped in the floor and when turned on the light shone through the holes and created a disco pattern on the floor at many a Christmas party.

At different times in this 18 year saga, it was lowered to the ground and put on a rotisserie and rust and panel pieces repaired.

For the length of the project I spent many hours researching what parts I needed and I found and brought many NOS parts. This was a hell of a job considering we were not sure how it was meant to go together. Gordon and I have learnt a lot about hard top Hawks and Golden Hawks in particular.

 I have to thank Ian McKellar for directing me to the wiring harness company in Melbourne that made his harness. All I had to do was send my old harness to them and they already had the pattern and used some parts of my harness and they promptly sent back the finished product-Yippee!!

As the body work was being completed I thought it was close enough to get the engine assembled. It was a rebuilt short block 15 years or more ago so I got Neil Black from Maryborough to disassemble and check the work and then rebuild the engine to a long block. I had the heads machined and valve guides replaced and new valves seated about 15 years before they were required. I got it back to Gordon’s place and unloaded it onto a wheeled frame to move around only to have the engine fall off the frame and the front supercharger pulley landed on the concrete and broke. Lucky for me Nathan Kramer (from Newcastle) had reproduced the pulley in aluminium alloy and I purchased one and we were back in business. It took another few months before we got ready to put the engine into the car. It would another 1 1/2 years before the car was able to be registered.

It’s now Jan 2021 and the car has virtually sat for 11months because of COVID-19 and other commitments. A friend George Udovicich inspired me to get working on the car again and with his help we have just finished replacing the front springs as the original springs sagged badly. I couldn’t get a floor jack under the front of the car. I read a forum in America about possible substitute springs and purchased them from Rockauto. I also got a couple of ½” spacers from another supplier. After they were installed the car lifted 3½” and looks good. The back of the car also went up ½”.

Now it’s onto the next job in the list of problems that need attention and hopefully the car will be truly finished in 2021.

John Cosgrove

PS – This is the short version. The long version has lots of swearing, wrong parts brought – new parts that didn’t fit – oil leaks – chipped paint, hard work and perseverance. I don’t want to remember some of it so I left it out.