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Neil Maken
Huntington Beach, California
1922 Studebaker Big Six Touring
1926 Studebaker 2 Door Club Coupe

Neil Writes:

1926 Studebaker (2 door) Club Coupe


My business was antiques. Antique phonographs and Gramophones to be more specific. But all dated back before 1925. It was then that I decided that I needed an old car – something of the same vintage as the talking machines that I was repairing and restoring.
I had a customer in Australia (who, through the years, has become a very good friend) who was buying phonograph parts from me. How we began talking about antique cars I certainly don’t remember, but I mentioned that I wanted an old car. I sit with a photograph over my shoulder of a Model ‘T’ truck all fitted out with Edison’s electric light bulbs for demonstration. That’s what I wanted. No, said Anthony from Australia, You want a proper motorcar. You want a Studebaker. Of course I knew of Studebaker; we all had a relative who owned one at sometime, but I never considered the earlier Studes.

Weeks went by and I received an excited telephone call from Australia. Anthony had found a 1925 Standard Six Duplex not too far from his home. Was I serious enough to have him drive over to look at it and take some photos? I was, and he did. I looked at the photos, we talked again by telephone, and I mailed him a check for the car. He hired a tow truck and dragged the car back to his home and was going to go through it so that it would be ready to start right up when it was shipped over here. I owned a 1925 Studebaker. I had never seen it, except for photos, and it was sitting halfway around the world and in
a different hemisphere.
As luck would have it, a classified ad turned up in a local newspaper for a 1925 Studebaker. It was in nearby Newport Beach. Let’s go take a look at it and see what we’ve bought I told my wife. The car was sitting in the parking garage of a
condo complex and the owner took the cover off. I don’t know what I expected, but the car was gorgeous. A two-door coupe (turned out it was a 1926, not a ’25) in dark green over black. The price was fair but I already owned one car in Australia. 

I telephoned Anthony and told him what we found. I didn’t know details, but from my photos and description he did. It’s a Big Six Club Coupe, he told me. Buy it, he said. But what about my car down there? I asked. My wife loves it, and so do I. We’ll buy it back from you. I bought the ’26 from Newport Beach but hadn’t been reimbursed for the ’25 in Australia. I now owned two cars, however temporarily.
The tow truck deposited the car in my driveway and I was stymied. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn first. Then I
had an idea. I telephoned Anthony and offered him a proposition: free round-trip airfare, a bed and all meals if he would fly
up and go through this car as he did the other one. He had never been out of Australia, needed a passport, had to arrange to
leave his business for a week, but up he came. I picked him up on a Friday at LAX, and we got back to my house about
3PM. By 3:30 he had changed clothing and was under the car. He really didn’t come out again – except to eat and sleep –
for four days. On Wednesday I told him to put the car on hold; I had other plans. They included a visit to the Nethercutt
Museum, and then a flight to Las Vegas to see ‘Sin City’ and the Imperial Palace collection. We returned home Thursday
early afternoon and he was back at the car. Friday morning he continued to tinker and, at about 11AM, finally fired it up. It
started and ran. I let him drive. He had never driven a left-hand drive car, nor had he driven on our side of the road. He
scared me to death. But the car ran. We only drove a few blocks and then it was back home, a fast shower and then back to
LAX for his return flight.

The car did now run, but still needed a lot of work. But I had learned enough from watching and helping to be able to tackle the rest. That was 1996. I still have the car and enjoy driving it. It’s fast, dependable and easy to drive. And a BIG car too.
I’ve had a chance to research the history of the car and found out that it was purchased new in Long Beach, California at the Glenn E. Thomas Studebaker dealer (still in business, but now selling Dodge/Chrysler). The original owner died in the mid ‘fifties, and a neighbor bought the car from the estate. He continued to live in Long Beach until the 1970’s when he
moved to Newport Beach. It was from him that I purchased the car – I’m the third owner of an almost 80 year –old car.
The Club Coupe (first introduced in 1923) was the forerunner to one of the most popular body styles that Detroit put out: the two door. My ’26 has a passenger’s side front seat which folds forward, allowing easy access to the rear for passengers. Although designated as a ‘five-passenger’ that back seat could easily get pretty crowded with three adults. The car sits on a 120” wheelbase and, being a Big Six, sports the 354 cubic inch engine, rated at 75 hp. In addition to what South Bend offered as standard, my car also has several options including the four wheel brakes and steel disc wheels, a large rear-mounted trunk and a front and rear bumpers. In addition it has an aftermarket combination side view mirror and work light.
The picture of the 1926 Studebaker Big Six Club Coupe from a Dealer’s Promotional Package shows the car, in its original green over black, but with the standard wooden spoke wheels, no rear trunk and no bumpers. At a weight of nearly 2 tons, the penciled price is $1,935. Remember, this is near the very end of Ford’s Model ‘T’ era, when their closed sedan was under $500.

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