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Mark and Judy Huston
Galt, California
1929 Commander Sedan
1928 President Sedan
1929 President Brougham

In 1975, I joined the Antique Studebaker Club after purchasing my first Studebaker (it was also my first car) a 1929 Commander 4 door sedan.  At the time, I was 17 years old and I had never heard of a Studebaker.  My interest in cars of the 1920’s started with the old black and white TV series “The Untouchables” with Robert Stack.  After watching to many reruns of The Untouchables I wanted an old “Gangster” car for my first car. Every week I would look through the classified ads in the Sacramento Bee newspaper until I finally found an ad for a 1929 car for sale.  I talked my parents into going to look at the car.  It was not until we were checking the car out that I found out that it was a Studebaker.  The 1929 Studebaker Commander turned out to be an excellent original in need of nothing other than a good home.  The seller was a college student who had lost storage and was forced to sell because the car was stored in his parent’s one car garage and his mother wanted to keep her new Cadillac in the garage.  Therefore, the old Studebaker had to go. The 1929 Studebaker Commander was known in the family as “Gertie”.  My dad drove the Commander home after I purchased it (I could not drive a stick shift at the time) he called the car “Gertie”, as he was going through the gears double clutching, and the name stuck. 

The College Kid had used the car in anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam Era, the body still showed signs of some of the protest slogans that had been applied using masking tape.  When the tape was removed, some of the original paint had been removed leaving across the hood “Love” and across the passenger side doors “Peace”.  When I purchased the 1929 Commander in April 1975 from the in Rocklin, CA whose name I can no longer recall.  He told me that the original owners were two old maid sisters in Chico, CA who traded in their 1917 Studebaker touring car when they had purchased the Commander new at the local Chico Studebaker dealer.  The College Kid passed along a story that he was told when he purchased the car form the second owner (name unknown) that one of the sisters dropped a silver dollar down into the driver’s door shortly after purchasing the Commander.  My brother, Shawn, would not leave the driver’s door alone until he located the coin, which substantiated the cars history as told to me by the College Kid. I sold the ’29 Commander to J.R. Parker of Fresno, CA.  I understand that Bill Cooley of South Pasadena, CA now owns the car. I owned the 1929 Commander for close to 25 years before selling it after I had purchased a 1928 President FA 5 passenger State sedan.

 The 1928 President was also an excellent original car that had rested untouched for years in a barn in Pollock Pines, CA.  In 1992, I was hosting the ASC South West Zone Meet in Jackson, CA.  I was not looking to buy another Studebaker but was contacted by the seller who had been referred to me by his daughter who had seen the advertisements for the Antique Studebaker meet in Jackson.  The seller was contacting me as a resource to help him determine the value of his President and to find a buyer.  It turned out that I was able to help him on both counts.  While I owned the President, it was a good road car that I drove on one long road trip of nearly 3,000 miles with my wife Judy, and our two daughters.  In September 1997, we drove the 1928 President from Sacramento, to Logan, Utah, for the ASC South West Zone Meet and then continued onto Sutherlin, Oregon, for the ASC North West Zone Meet. We spent two weeks on the road camping out along the way and had a great time.  Driving an antique Studebaker cross-country for two weeks was one of the highlights of my life and I look forward to the chance to do it again. 

After having owned the 1929 Commander for so many years, I missed the styling of the 1929 – 30 model years and I could not develop a real attachment to the first series 1928 President body style.  I had owned the 1928 President for just a few years when I received a phone call from a fellow club member wanting to know if I had seen the 1929 President that was for sell in Redding, CA.  I was aware of the car but had never seen it at any club meets.  Out of curiosity, I called the owner and arranged to go up to Redding to check out the 1929 President.  My justification for making the two-hour drive from Sacramento to Redding was that in case club members call needing information about the car I would be able to help them after having inspected the President. Again, I had no real intention of buying another Studebaker, but it was a 1929, same year as my first Studebaker and the styling that I preferred.  The car turned out to be a 1929 President FE Brougham.  The FE has a wheelbase of 135 inches, the famous President 337 straight eight engine.  My brother, Shawn, was with me on this sight seeing expedition and he is the owner of a 1929 President FE 7 passenger State Touring.  Between the two of use, we had a lot of knowledge about 1929 Studebakers and proceeded to inspect the Brougham.  The Brougham had quit running 30 years earlier and the seller claimed he did not know why.  The seller had several collector cars and the Studebaker was the only one that was not fully restored.  The Brougham was originally painted a two-tone green and tan color combination.  At sometime in the past the car had been given a poor quality cosmetic restoration with a new top, upholstery and a solid fire engine red paint job that was now faded, peeling and blistering off exposing in places the original paint.  The President now looked bad, with rusty chrome, surface rust and bad paint, but the car looked to be solid and in overall good condition.  After getting home I kept thinking about the President Brougham and weighing the pros and cons of keeping the 1928 President that I had, or buying the 1929 President that I did not know what it would take to get it on the road.  Finally, I came to the decision to sell the 1928 FA President and buy the 1929 FE President.  The ’28 sold on eBay to a buyer in St. Petersburg, Florida.  For those of you who are wondering why it was necessary to sell the 1928 President to buy the Brougham the answer is simple:  I only have a two-car garage and only have room for one collector car at a time since the other half of the garage is claimed by my wife’s car.  I am still waiting on the State Lottery to solve that problem.

The day finally came when I got the 1929 President FE Brougham home in my garage.  This was the point when I questioned my sanity, and wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The first order of business was to find out why the President had stopped running so many years ago.  I took all the sheet metal off the front end, stripped the engine down to the bare block, took out the gas tank and the gas line.  I then went through every part, repaired the gas tank, fuel pump, carburetor, and all the other parts as I reinstalled them back onto the engine and chassis.  I finally determined that only problem with the car was the carburetor.  In the time, since I have had the Brougham back on the road the only problem that I consistently have is with the carburetor.  I have had it rebuilt four times and continue to have problems with the zinc die cast Stromberg carburetor body not holding the correct tolerances.  The carburetor is a Stromberg model U2 and I have acquired a 1931 President Stromberg model UU2 that I have installed.  Since installing the UU2 carburetor, the President runs and idles correctly.  Yes, I know it not original, but at least the President is now drivable. As time and money permits, I will continue to upgrade the President and eventually hope to have it fully restored someday.

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