Been There, Done That: International Drive Your Studebaker Day

Story by Jon Stalnaker AKA The Studebaker Dude

International Drive Your Studebaker Day is the second Saturday of September. It just so happens that Sapulpa chose the same day for their annual Route 66 car show. It’s not a problem for me though as the car show is always a fun destination for a Studebaker guy like me. It doesn’t really bother me that I don’t see many Studebakers at these events, on the contrary, it just makes me like Studebakers all the more. But it is fun for me to go searching, and I ALWAYS do.

I have been writing IDYSD stories for the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC) magazine since 2010, the second year of what has turned out to be the biggest show in the organized Studebaker world. This year is no different, so I woke up early Saturday to search for a story. Having participated in my share of car shows over the years, I know that it takes several hours to set up these events and most car guys like to show up early to get a good parking spot for the day. I figured that by the time the sun began to light up the sky, there would be plenty of cars and people to look at and talk with. So, I set out at first light with my IDYSD T-shirt and my Professional Reporter’s Notebook in search of something interesting to report.

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I wandered down Dewey looking at the early arrivals and only found one Studebaker. It was my new friend Bo and his 47 Studebaker Rat Rod pickup. I met Bo last year and we talked then, but those Rat Rod customs fascinate me and there is always something interesting to see and/or inquire about. That’s a nice thing about hot rods and customs, rarely does anyone finish them. Most times, there is something new that has been added or re-done and Bo’s truck was no different in that manner. This year he shared with me some pictures of what his truck looked like when he saved it from the crusher just minutes before it was scheduled to be smashed. I love those kinds of stories. I hear folks complain that the Studebaker Club people fuss at you if you don’t restore your Studebaker to its original condition. While there are what I call purists in the club, they are the minority and not the majority of the Studebaker people that I know. Even the president of the SDC has a resto-mod Studebaker Coupe Express truck. All Studebakers in any condition are welcome; all we ask of our members is that you drive them and share them with people who don’t even know what a Studebaker is.

When I can’t find other Studebakers, I enjoy looking at the other “Orphan” brand cars and I found a few of them. I talked to a man who was parking his 1928 Graham Paige sedan. We commiserated about life owning an orphan brand car as there are many similarities. Finding parts is the biggest thing that scares people away from them. Getting involved with a car club that appreciates the brand is the best way to find what you need. It’s so much easier when you get yourself connected.

An orphan car is one that is no longer being built. Specifically, the parent company must have closed. I’ve seen cars like Corvairs and Falcons claiming to be orphans, but that’s not exactly correct as Chevrolet and Ford are still in business. Cars like Edsel, Mercury, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile can be considered orphans as they were separate divisions of the parent companies Ford and General Motors. Car guys argue these points all the time. The orphan cars I saw were an AMC Javelin, a 59 Rambler, a 54 Packard Pacific, 61 Willys Jeep pickup, and a 51 Hudson. 

I drove my truck back home and took the Bullet Nose out for a spin a little later. I parked it at Gasoline Alley figuring I could get a story about their 1-year anniversary. What I found there was a great story that I may have to do as a standalone. Michael is doing some great stuff over there that it is way too cool to limit as a paragraph in another story. He was very busy so I’ll go back and do that story at a later date. Sapulpa is a cool place to live and a shining light along Route 66. I love it here.

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