Studebaker Recollections – Harold Ireland
Sunday, April 24, 2022 14:52

STUDEBAKER RECOLLECTIONS – Harold Ireland

Compiled late 2015 – early 2016

First Studebaker purchased by the Ireland Family around 1942, during World War 2 Years, was a 1937 Studebaker Dictator x Drive Yourself Car. I, Harold, was 10 years old. In 1946, the year after the War ended, Walter, my father purchased a 1938 7A Commander sedan, an x-Ascot Taxi, with 350,000 MILES on the clock. Full restoration, body off, and put on the road as a family car in early 1947, I, Harold, was then 15 years of age.

Walter, my father, used this car for general running and picking up parts from various Brisbane Car Part Suppliers, particularly Howard Motors, who were the Studebaker Agents in Brisbane, since around 1934, taking over from Champion Automobiles. He did 100,000 miles in his general restorations business and repairs to all different makes. Many Farm vehicles in the Pine Rivers Area were kept mobile, because new vehicles were not able to be purchased after World War 11.

In 1952, I purchased this Commander, as our first family car I did approximately 40,000 miles before I traded it in to a local identity, on an Austin A70 Utility, for a general runabout. In 1958, I purchased a 1938 Studebaker State Commander, and restored it for family use, Phyl learned to drive on this car, and got her first Driving Licence.

In 1966, I purchased a 1954 Studebaker Commander V8 Sedan, and the 1938 Commander was stored under cover until 1977. I restored the 38 for the second time, and used it for special occasions, school formals, weddings, and in 1989, drove it to Sydney for our youngest daughter’s bridal car. It is now in the appreciative hands of a local identity, close to Brisbane.

In 1972 I had the opportunity to buy a 1964 Studebaker Cruiser Sedan from the Manager of UK Motors, at Bowen Hills. It had 46,000 miles on the odometer. This car would have been one of the last cars sold by Howards.  We travelled on many Interstate trips, Vic, SA, ACT and NSW in the activity of successfully showing Specialty-type German Shepherd Dogs. We always pulled a trailer in which our dogs comfortably travelled.

Between the middle 1950’s and early 1960, we used a 1951 Champion Sedan, and a 1947 Champion Sedan. Also, we used a 1962 Studebaker V8 Station wagon, for general use.

Also, in the early 1970’s we purchased a 1965 Chev Motor Stude Sedan, which was a second car in use for the family. One of the early trips we did with the ’65, was to Adelaide to support our youngest son Lewis, then 12 years old, representing Queensland Schoolboys Interstate Cricket. On the return journey we travelled back through Melbourne, and made contact with Charles Schwerkolt, who at that time had the red Avanti, which had been brought in new by Needham Motors, Sydney, and converted to Right Hand Drive in their workshop.

At that time, the Schwerkolt family had a beautiful early 30’s Studebaker Sedan. Charles and his wife encouraged us to join the Studebaker Car Club of Victoria. On the way back through Sydney, we had the opportunity to call in to Australia Street, to meet Bert Needham. I was having trouble with the plug wires on the Chev Motored Stude and picked up some other parts at the same time. Bert and my father Walter were very good friends, with a common interest in Studebakers. Many parts were purchased over the years for our various restorations from Needham Motors.

During the years from 1947 to 1960, my father Walter, and I restored and repaired many makes of farm vehicles, namely, Chev 4’s, Dodge 6’s, early V8 Fords, Whippets, Willys, Oldsmobile’s, Pontiacs, Buicks, and many Bedford and Chev trucks, the latter trucks used in our Transport Business during World War 11, and right through to the 1980’s.We were also Agents for Mobil Oil Australia, from 1955 to approximately 1985. Originally sold and delivered in 44 gallon drums (200 litres), and then later delivered in bulk to Farms in the Pine Rivers District, which I picked up from the Mobil Terminal, at Colmslie, in my Chev Maple Leaf Tanker. I also had a Bedford Semi- trailer for the drum pick up.

I restored a number of Bedford and Chev Trucks during this period for our Oil and Transport Business.

In 1972, the original wrecking yard at Eatons Hill, (used to be South Pine) was sold with the requirement that it would be vacated by 1974. In 1974 with the change of Federal Government, the real estate value dropped dramatically, and the sale of the property was not completed. Later in 1988, with renewed interest in property development, A southern developer purchased the property, which was to be cleared of all vehicles within 12 months. At this time, there were 1200 vehicles on the Eatons Hill property. A sale was organized to sell off the vehicles of all different makes. Three auctioneers on the day split the buyers in different directions of the property, and the buyers colluded amongst themselves, and the cars were being knocked down for less than scrap metal price. After the disastrous Auction, 600 vehicles were crushed on site and sent to Sims Metal. We kept most of the Studebaker vehicles and transferred them to my father’s new residence at Old North Road, and after his death in 1992, they were again transported to our workshop at Narangba.

During those years between 1989 and 2012, we carried on restoration of vehicles at this workshop, the 1958 Packard, the 1961 Champ Ute, together with a 1963 Studebaker Lark, were completed before and after my Father Walter’s death in 1992. I also restored a 1946 one ton Chev truck, and partly restored a 1957 Hudson Hornet, started my own 1948 Studebaker Commander Landcruiser with a body-off Chassis restoration. Numerous, around 12 Studebaker Motors V8 and 6 cylinder, were rebuilt for various people in Queensland and Interstate, together with Dodge, and Ford motors.

The largest amount of work for restoration was the 1939 President Hearse (fondly known as ‘Lulu’) owned by Jack Sim. This was a mammoth task, as it had been dismantled by the previous owners, mainly the engine, and many parts were missing e.g., the gearbox, when it was purchased, fortunately, I was able to supply most parts for the rebuild of the Straight 8 Motor. A later model electric overdrive gear-box was fitted together with a Lark clutch, and the braking system upgraded with Lark front brakes, and Champ Ute rear brakes. These alterations were to make it a better driving vehicle with today’s traffic. I made up a completely new wiring system which was installed and upgraded to 12 volts.

The completed President, which was a driving vehicle, left my workshop for Woolloongabba, to be painted, by the Bodyworks, which had done the rebuilding of the internal framework with steel, before it came to me to do the mechanical work. Unfortunately, the Bodyworks had their premises partly demolished by fire, lit by an arsonist, and the Hearse was one of the very few vehicles that survived. A devastated Jack contacted me to see if the hearse could be repaired from all the fire damage and restored. It came back to my workshop, and I repaired the fire damage, and brought the Hearse back ready to be painted. “Lulu” in all her “Sleeping Beauties” painted glory is a regular sight at the Boggo Road Jail Markets, and was a drawcard at our Studebaker Concours, Redcliffe, Sept. 2015.

During the years 2014 and 2015, I have helped restore a 1942 Lease Lend Chev 3 ton truck, doing all the mechanical work, including engine, braking system, and front steering suspension. This is now a registered vehicle, and it did its maiden run to the 2015 Gympie Muster.

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