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Studebaker Trucks Get Lots Of Attention
When automakers Ford and Chevrolet came out with their Ranchero and El Camino car-pickup hybrids, Studebaker had a better idea. They put a Lark car front on a truck frame to create the Studebaker Champ pickup. With only 20,000 built from 1961 to 1963, it’s a truck many folks have never heard of, says Mike Ferguson, owner of a 1962 model, the last new truck design built by Studebaker. His Apache red pickup attracts attention at vintage auto rallies he attends.
“When I saw the pickup, I liked its lines. And there are very few around so that attracted my attention,” Ferguson says, adding that he has a sentimental attachment to Studebaker. His first car was a $200 1953 Commander Starlight coupe he purchased as a teen working as grocery store bag boy, and his father owned a 1961 Lark.
The Roanoke, Va., collector purchased the Champ from the son of a Mississippi car dealer who had used it as a shop truck. Ferguson had the interior and wiring redone, and had a rear bumper cut down from a Dodge bumper, because replacements are almost impossible to find.
The Champ has some unique features. It was the first pickup to have a sliding rear window and it has a Dodge pickup bed.
“Studebaker bought the rights to make the Dodge beds in 1962. It’s a long and wide bed; they were looking for hauling capacity. Studebaker had a history of vehicles taking long road trips and good mileage,” Ferguson says.
He obtained his truck’s build sheet, which confirms it has the original transmission and engine, a 259cu. in., valve-in-head, V-8 engine. The odometer reads around 49,000 miles, but Ferguson says it should be closer to 79,000 miles.
“It’s a basic truck, 3 on the tree. No power steering. No air conditioning,” he says.
But he enjoys driving it and preserving it along with his 1960 Studebaker Transtar 5E40 dump truck.
Though Studebaker shut down its South Bend, Ind., plant in 1963 (moving all production to Hamilton, Ont.) it’s important to Ferguson to help carry on the company’s history, which started by building Conestoga wagons and military wagons for the Union army during the Civil War.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mike Ferguson, Roanoke, Va. (ph 540 529-7531; mfergprop@cox.net).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5