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June 18, 2003
by Rudy Trevino, KGBT-TV

Harlingen, Texas- Every morning like clock work, 80-year-old Milton Jones, opens the door to the past. It's a love affair that goes back only eight years.

But in that time, Milton has amassed a slice of history. "Well they were quite ahead of their time."

A piece of Americana.

A collection that would be the envy of anyone who appreciates the long forgotten automobile that was the Studebaker.

"Why do you do it? For the fun of it and I like what we get when we get em finished," said Milton.

They stand as relics of the past. There's the regal Commander. The stately President and the sleek Gran Tourismo Hawk. All of them waiting to be revived... even if only for a moment to impress.

"Well the car that I started with, I bought a 1950 Starlight Coup that my uncle had started to redo. I brought it over from California and I did it out on our back porch behind Auto Air there."

Since then, Milton has become a member of the International Studebaker Drivers Club. Traveling throughout the country and meeting up with other Studebaker enthusiasts.

"We just drove that black one out there up to Central Texas this last weekend and back to a what they call a chapter meeting," he said.

To those too young to remember these massive feats of engineering have an incredible history.

"Well they started with wagons, in 1852, the Studebakers brothers. Then they started, had electric cars at the turn of the century. The they did the teen cars and the 20's and 30's 40's, and in the late forties they came out with a small cheap car for economy. 1939 was the first Champion, a small six cylinder that was better economy than what was on the road."

The last Studebaker rolled off the American assembly line in 1964, but production continued until 1966, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

So while the Studebaker may be off our streets it's alive and well in Milton Jones' garage. Seventy-five of them all together-- 12 of them in very good condition.

So how much has this love affair cost him? "Oh, quite a bit, you can't even guess. No, not how much. I've got more in them than I can get out of them," Milton chuckles.

Interested in Studebakers? Check out the South Georgia Studebaker Driver's Club, which is having a meeting in Albany, in July.

posted at 11:30AM by dave.miller@walb.com

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