So you want to buy a Studebaker? I have learned alot in the past 17 years about purchasing Studebakers. In the Antique Car world they are considered one of the last great bargains and can be purchased for quite reasonable prices. New or NOS parts for most post war models are readily available so if you want to drive a real classic then check out my Studebaker Purchasing Checklist for assistance:
Note: This is only a guide and won't answer all of you questions. You need to do your homework:
1. If this is your first Studebaker then do the following:
Get a Buying Guide: Not easy to find - Last version by Richard M Langworth very helpful
Join the Studebaker Drivers Club: visit www.studebakerdriversclub.com
Join a local SDC Chapter: - check local chapters at above website.
Get out and go to SDC Car Meets/Car shows - Many Studebaker Owners are SDC members so when at your next car show just ask.
2. Some of the things to look for when you have located a Studebaker that interests you:
KNOW YOU STUDEBAKERS- Take along a knowledgeable friend that knows Studebakers when viewing vehicle. Someone that presently owns one and is aware of the common areas to look for faults that may prevent the vehicle getting properly registered ( most states/provinces needs a safety inspection done) Check Frame for holes/structure and body for Bondo, bring a magnet.
RUN ENGINE - If the engine runs - do a compression test to verify if it has proper compression. Top/low cylinder should be within 15% of each other. Check for general cleanliness. If it is supposedly rebuild the engine should be very clean, if not clean be suspect. Check for smoke - if it smokes upon startup could be just valve seals but anything like this will cost money so adjust accordingly. Engine doesn't run? Can be a very dicey purchase since it would cost anywhere from 3 - 5k to fix for a rebuild. Know what is needed to fix this vital part. Many Engine shops don't have the detailed knowledge to properly fix a Studebaker Engine so if this is needed do research on a Repair shop before purchase, There are Engine shops out there that can do a great rebuild but adjust your price/offer accordingly. If you are very good at rebuilding engines yourself then it's all up to you.
MAINTENANCE RECORDS - View all Maintenance receipts and records to verify work that has been done. Who did the maintenance? Did they know what they were doing?
IS IT PROPERLY REGISTERED AND CLEAR? Ask the Seller for proper Photo ID and their name should match the one on the ownership. If not then check with your local Vehicle State/Provincial registration office to verify who really owns the vehicle in question.
Note: Ownership regulations can be very different between some provinces and states. If no registration slip it can be sometimes hard to get it registered in some places and easy in some others. You can get a vehicle registered with only a bill of sale (in most cases) but if it is already registered to someone else then the seller then you could have an unpleasant surprise one day and lose the vehicle. If not presently registered and they have no records of the vehicle's serial number you can usually can take an oath or statutory declaration. Check with Vehicle Office before you hand over any money. Better yet have him come with you and sort it out. They (state/province) maybe looking for taxes on any former transaction so ensure that present seller has it registered in their name to avoid this situation. Ensure you get it registered in your name ASAP so you pay minimal taxes. In Ontario you are required to pay taxes at time of registration and it is definitely better to pay at the lower appraisal then wait until you get it all fixed up at the much higher value. You will also need two appraisals done, one for registration and one for Insurance purposes preferably when vehicle is fully restored.
HAS THE VEHICLE A CURRENT APPRAISAL? This may give you a better idea of real value but these sometimes tend to be on the high side to ensure that they recoup all of the value from the insurance company. Also check NADA www.nada.com for their estimated value. It may cost someone $20,000 to restore but on the open market you may only get $15,000. Many Antique Car Owners do this but as a potential new owner I would only pay market value. If you have to resell for any reasons you then shouldn't lose your shirt.
CREDITABLE OWNER - Is the present seller creditable? Is he well-known locally or unknown? Is it his first/last Studebaker or is he a long term owner with a vast wealth of actual knowledge?
SERIAL NUMBER - Check to ensure the serial number on the vehicle exactly matches the one on the registration. It has to match the serial number as issued by Studebaker at the factory. Check the plate on the Driver' side door post. This will cause problems when doing the safety and the mechanic puts the serial number on the inspection paperwork which maybe isn't the same. If they don't match and you find out this after you purchase the vehicle you will have to usually see an local appraiser to carry out a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) Correction which will allow you to properly sell the car down the road.
PROJECT VERSUS TURN KEY - know your limitations and what you really want. Turn key vehicles can be much more costly but this is understandable in most cases. If you are new to the antique vehicle world and don't have the tools or knowledge then have a Studebaker Owner friend that you can go to and knows what he is talking about. Do you have sufficient cash to fix a project? For most first time antique car buyers getting a roadworthy vehicle is the best solution.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO MOVE IT? - If it's a non-mover who will tow or flatbed it? Get an estimate from a Car moving company or a friend with a car hauler.
SLEEP ON IT - in most cases the vehicle will be there the next day so don't make any rash decisions you may regret. It will also give time for the owner to phone back to say it is still available and they are maybe willing to negotiate more. All depends on how bad you want it.
TOOLS/GARAGE SPACE - If you decide on a project, do you have the necessary tools and garage space? Don't plan to leave the car outside during the winter especially if up north.
MECHANIC OR RESTORATION SHOP - Is there a local Mechanic or Restoration shop that is willing to work on your vehicle for a reasonable price? This will increase the final cost/price immensely so get written estimates with a set date for completion and don't allow them to do it in their spare time. They may take years to do this work.
PARTS VENDORS - How far is the nearest Studebaker Parts Vendor? Be prepared to deal with vendors via the Internet or phone using credit cards if you require the parts quickly. E-Bay is a good source for parts and if you use Paypal to purchase an item it's free to use payment system.
SWAP MEETS - Attend one of the big vendors Swap meets in either York, PA ( usually 1st weekend in March) , Dunkirk NY in September or Reedsville PA in late October. Also Studebaker International and others hold an annually Swap Meet in early May each year in South Bend.
Most of the Studebaker Owners I have met have had a very enjoyable time in driving, maintaining and owning their Studebakers. Some owners though never got their Studebakers out of the garage in 20 years due to not doing their homework, having neither the time, expertise or money to complete their project. If you can't get it on the road within 5 years then you may wish to reconsider your need to get in the antique ownership world. Do your homework and if you come to the decision of owning a Studebaker, you won't find a better group of Car Enthusiasts in the world. Just go to one of the International SDC Meets www.sdcmeet.com nd you will see what I mean. Most new owners can expect to get your hands dirty while experiencing the thrill of restoring their first vehicle or starting that first engine rebuild. They don't build vehicles like Studebaker anymore and maybe that is why for alot of us brand loyalty is a thing of the past.