By Jon Stalnaker
AKA The Studebaker Dude
I am very much a car guy and Studebakers are my thing, but I like other cars too and my dream would be to have one of those huge industrial buildings full of cars. I love seeing private collections and if you watch Jay Leno’s Garage, you have seen snippets of one of the best. I like Leno’s garage because he likes unique and unusual cars and I share that quirky passion. My collection would be much smaller without some of his most fabulous cars like his Duesenbergs. Don’t get me wrong, owning a Duesey would be cool but it’s just a little out of my league.
I often get to thinking about what kind of cars I would like to collect if I had unlimited funds. Of course, I would like several more Studebakers, such as a Four Seasons Roadster, a St. Regis Brougham, a Coupe Express, a 1956 President Sedan, and an Avanti to name a few, but there are other makes that really get my juices flowing too. At the top of my list would be a trifecta of three similar cars from the Art Deco period of automotive design. It would be fun to have the complete set. Cord made a Westchester Sedan in the late 30s. It was a wild design for that period and Amelia Earhart owned a convertible version. It sported a coffin nose that was nothing like any car from that era. If you google the Cord automobile, you will see many fine examples, some owned by the rich and famous. I once saw one on a used car lot in Las Vegas. It had obviously just been pulled out of a barn as it was covered in years of dust. The inside of the car contained a rather large amount of hay. It needed a complete restoration and had a $10,000 sale price painted on the windshield. I was in the military at the time and had no way to purchase such a project. A dream opportunity that was not meant to be.
When Cord shut down automobile production, Huppmobile and Graham bought the rights to the design and built their own versions of the sedan. Gone was the coffin nose and the retractable headlights and they designed a more subtle front that was similar for each make. The most notable difference between the two cars was that the upper grill on the Huppmobile version was painted body color while the Graham version upper grill was chrome plated. They called the Graham a Hollywood and the Huppmobile was named the Skylark. Most of you probably don’t recognize the Graham or Huppmobile names either. They didn’t last much longer than the Cord automobile, but they built many cars for multiple decades. This whole idea was supposed to rejuvenate their companies, but it would turn out to be their last hoorah. Huppmobile built 319 Skylarks while Graham built somewhere between 1597 to 1859 Hollywoods.
I have seen many of these over the years, some were barn find projects, some were beautiful restorations, and some were slicked up resto-mods, my personal favorite. When I was a child, my father always talked about a Hollywood Graham being his dream car. I never saw one, but I can still hear the words Hollywood Graham slipping off his tongue. When I finally saw the real car, I immediately knew why my father was so smitten with this automobile. They are beautiful cars. And I always thought Hollywood Graham was such a cool name, although I think the proper name for that car is a Graham Hollywood.
I’m much too old to take on a project like this, so these cars will have to remain a dream in my mind. Besides, being retired, I now have to live on a fixed income. I moved to Sapulpa from California because I could buy a house with a three-car garage to properly park my classic cars in a protected environment. There is no room for more cars, and I don’t want to have to move again. And as many classic cars as there are that excite me, I would need a huge building to store them all. Next week, I’ll share some other cars that increase my heart rate just by looking at them. I might surprise you with my list of favorite cars. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s likely one of my favorites.