Studebaker owners roll back to South Bend for annual meet

 1963 Studebaker Avanti coupe. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1963 Studebaker Avanti coupe. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Andre Betit is visiting from Goffstown, N.H., to show off his shiny black 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk.

His father, who passed away last October, restored the car several years ago.

“This is the first time this car has been back in South Bend since it was made,” said Betit, who is among more than 2,000 people in town this week attending the Studebaker Drivers Club international meet. Row after row of Larks, Commanders, Avantis, Land Cruisers and other classic Studebaker models are on public display at the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds.

For Betit, 44, Studebakers have always been part of his life. “I came home from the hospital (as an infant) in a 1963 Studebaker,” he said. He now owns that same car and is restoring it.

He and many others share a fascination with Studebaker vehicles, which were produced in South Bend until the factory closed in 1963.

Studebakers “have classic lines. And they drive really well. For a car without power steering or power brakes, driving down the road you would never know,” Betit said.

The car show and swap meet continue through Friday.

At the meet, visitors can roam the rows of vehicles and talk with the owners. Swap meet booths offer original and replacement Studebaker hubcaps, steering wheels, nameplates, doors and other parts. Some vendors sell old Studebaker owner’s manuals, dealer catalogues, Studebaker Corp. magazines and other publications.

Sandra Studebaker, of Fraser, Mich., is staffing a booth that provides information about the Studebaker Family National Association, a genealogical group specializing in research about those with the Studebaker surname. The group has a reunion every five years in Tipp City, Ohio.

Ernest Loga, 65, of Eau Claire, runs Loga Enterprises, a firm that specializes in Studebaker interior parts.

Studebaker enthusiasts “all remember the vehicles from their childhood. Their grandparents and parents had Studebakers,” he said.

Loga’s been running the part-time business since 1981 and owns at least 10 Studebakers, including a 1917 model.

His favorite is a 1951 Studebaker Commander convertible, which he recently finished restoring. He’s always had a fascination with those bullet-nose models.

The meet is being held in conjunction with the Avanti Owners Association International and the Antique Studebaker Club.


Information from: South Bend Tribune,

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AP-WF-08-01-12 1313GMT


 1963 Studebaker Avanti coupe. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1963 Studebaker Avanti coupe. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.