Studebakers still alive - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Studebakers still alive

George Klutkowski's '63 Lark, Bruce Garey's '55 Champion HT. George Klutkowski's '63 Lark, Bruce Garey's '55 Champion HT.
Loren Hendley and his 1963 Gran Tourismo Hawk Loren Hendley and his 1963 Gran Tourismo Hawk
Neil Thornton and his Avanti II Neil Thornton and his Avanti II
Pat Skelly's 1962 Gran Tourismo Hawk Pat Skelly's 1962 Gran Tourismo Hawk

July 19, 2003

Albany- Chances are you've probably never seen a Studebaker riding down the highway. That's because they haven't been in production since 1966.

If you have been lucky enough to see one on the road, it probably had one of the members of the South Georgia Studebaker Drivers Club behind the wheel.

"When I was 16 years old my dad bought me a 17 year old Studebaker, and I've been driving them every since," admits club president Neil Thornton.

And he isn't the only one who swears by the Studebaker name.

"This is the 1963, and I bought one just like it the same day. I waited until about March of 2000. I tinkered with it off and on. Then one day my wife said why don't you finish the old car while we're still young enough to enjoy it a little bit," remembers Loren Hendley.

But Hendley says his wife made the mistake of not asking how much it would cost. With lots of hard work and a new Candy Apple red coat of paint this '63 GT is definitely road worthy.

How much has he put into the restoration?

"I don't know. My wife says she knows, but I've got it insured for $33,000," says Hendley.

A far cry from the $3,800 price tags these cars carried in the 60's. Still this hobby has become a family affair for many members. Four generations of Thorntons own Studebakers.

"We're not much into sports. We don't get excited about football or basketball. We used to do some fishing but now we don't have much time to do that. It's just something the family can enjoy together," says Thornton.

Proof the Studebaker is one car that will definitely roll it's way into the future.

There are about 14,000 Studebakers Driver's Club members and there are chapters in 14 countries around the world.

Posted at 4:00 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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