Gear Head Tuesday – My Second Time (to drive 100 mph)

Gear Head

'63 Avanti

My first two times were both in white Studebakers -first two times to drive 100 m.p.h., that is. The first time was in Warren Trewick’s ‘57 Golden Hawk in Tulia, Texas in 1963. The next time was two years later in Louis Kerr’s ’63 Avanti R-2 4 speed in Lubbock, Texas.

Louis Kerr was the long-time Studebaker dealer in Lubbock. He stuck with Studebaker right to the end in 1966. After Studebaker quit building cars altogether, Kerr carved a niche for himself by continuing to sell Studebaker parts and servicing the cars. He was the only Studebaker service and parts option in a radius of 150 miles or more.

Kerr Studebaker

In 1952, the police in Lubbock, Texas drove Studebaker Commander V-8s purchased from Kerr Motor Co., the local Studebaker dealer.

When Studebaker quit building cars in its historic home, South Bend, Indiana,  just before Christmas, 1963, Kerr bought a Texaco station on West 19th Street and rented space in a building behind the station where he moved his Studebaker parts and service department from his former dealership on Main Street, downtown. He also had a small showroom next to the newly-relocated parts and service departments. He always had a few Studebakers in stock – even the Canadian-built ones.


Mr. Kerr bought a Texaco station that looked much like this one. He moved his Studebaker sales, parts and service departments to a building behind his Texaco station. 

Having a soft spot in my heart for Studebakers, I wanted to support Mr. Kerr any way I could. I would drive my Dresden blue ’57 Ford Custom Tudor some 30 blocks across town to buy my gas from Mr. Kerr’s Texaco station. Often, Mr. Kerr himself would pump my gas. Those were the days when service stations still gave service! Having become a regular customer, I got to know him. He was always pleasant and amiable and it didn’t seem to bother him at all to pump gas for his customers.

Mr. Kerr always had a few cars that were for sale parked in front of his station on the curb along West 19th Street. Among the cars he kept out front was his personal car, an Avanti White ’63 Avanti R-2 (supercharged) four speed with the turquoise interior that included the rarely-seen perforated seat inserts. (The perforations in the seat inserts improved breathing, making the vinyl less sticky on hot days.) He didn’t really want to sell his Avanti, but he kept it out front because it attracted attention.

Avanti interior

If the Avanti was out front when I came in for gas, I would always get out of my Ford and go ogle the Avanti. Mr. Kerr seemed to be impressed with my knowledge of Studebakers. I was 18 and he was then 55, but he always treated me as if I was a peer rather than a brash teenager.

After I got to know him, I told him about my adventure in Tulia where my first time to drive 100 mph was in a ’57 Golden Hawk.

It is curious that I had never taken my Ford up to 100. It was certainly capable of it. That car began life with Ford’s 272 cubic inch V-8 and a “three on the tree” manual transmission. I had bought it from my high school buddy, Don Shackelford, when Don got a new ’64 Falcon Sprint. Don had fitted the ’57 with the big-valve heads and 4 barrel carburetor from a Thunderbird 312. He put in a Hurst floor shifter and added dual exhausts with glass packs. That Ford had a nice rumble! Don had been the terror of the impromptu drag strip on a Farm-to-Market road on the north east side of Tulia. When I bought the car from him, I would take it occasionally out to the drag strip, but I was never as “bitten” with the bug to drag race as many others in Tulia High School. I don’t recall ever taking the car above 90, even on the drag strip. So, my first time to drive 100 was in Warren Trewick’s supercharged ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk.

In 1964, we moved from Tulia back to my home town some 72 miles south, Lubbock, and that is when I began buying the gas for my Ford from Louis Kerr. When I was at his station and the Avanti was out front, it was usually unlocked. I would often get in and shift the four speed transmission as if I was really driving it.

One day when I was doing this, Mr. Kerr came over to the Avanti, dangling the keys. He said, “Here, Mr. Studebaker Expert, why don’t you take it for a spin?” I was thrilled! I asked if he was going with me. He replied, “No, I’ve got to stay here and pump gas.” I was amazed that he trusted me enough to let me drive his Avanti alone. What he did next still amazes me – he said “Take it out west of town and give it the gas.” WOW! What an invitation!

I started the Avanti, eased it out of Mr. Kerr’s station and headed west on 19th Street toward Reese Air Force base. In town, I was amazed at the responsiveness of this Avanti. This was one quick car! When I cleared the city limits, finding traffic to be favorable for a little “lead foot” action, I put the hammer down. Before I knew it, I was blasting along Highway 114 (which in town is 19th Street) toward the next town west, Levelland, at 100 mph.. The sensation in the Avanti was much different than it had been in the ’57 Golden Hawk – everything happened much faster in the Avanti!

When I got back to Kerr’s Texaco, Mr. Kerr asked what I thought. I expressed my delight at how quick the car was. I confessed that I took it up to 100. He smiled, winked, and said, “I knew you would.”

Louis Kerr was born in 1910 in a small farming community in Texas. He opened Kerr Motor Company on Main Street in Lubbock, Texas in 1947 as the town’s Studebaker dealer. Several years after Studebaker ceased all automobile production, Mr. Kerr sold his Texaco station and became the Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Lubbock. He was active in leadership roles at First Presbyterian Church and various civic organizations in the city. Mr. Kerr died at age 93 in October, 2003.

First Presbyterian

First Presbyterian Church, Lubbock, TX

Hat Tip_2

A tip of the hat “Chris-to-Fear” for inspiring today’s post by sending what follows – Avanti lovers, this is a “must read”!

Design and Conquer

Click >>HERE<<

Raymond Loewy’s Studebaker Avanti elevated him to cultlike status …
that, and his 
recipe for blueberry cheesecake.

Avantis in Palm Springs

Avanti gathering in Palm Springs

Loewy's Blueberry Cheesecake

More than a designer, Raymond Loewy was a true renaissance man. An enthusiastic chef, he developed several recipes, including this one.

Raymond Loewy’s Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe

2 oz. softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
1 9-inch frozen honey-
graham cracker pie shell

Preheat oven and baking sheet to 350 F.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and eggs until smooth and well-blended.

Pour into pie crust and bake for 30 minutes or until filling is firm.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining sugar and cornstarch. Add water, stirring until smooth.

Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in blueberries. Spread blueberry mixture evenly over cream cheese filling.

Refrigerate 3 hours or until ready to serve.

Note: adding 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to the blueberry mixture will intensify the blueberry flavor.

Recipe from Avanti Magazine

Courtesy of “Chris-to-Fear” we continue with photos of old gas stations at
Curbside Classic. Today: Cape Cod

Gulf station - Cape Cod


Add yours →

  1. John McCall 06/02/2018 — 05:03

    As usual, a brilliant article…especially for enthusiasts who own both an Avanti AND a 56 Packard. Our ‘Studebaker” is a 1972 Avanti II with the GM 400 cubic inch V-8–one of less than 180 built in that year. It will fly. Lowey was a gifted genius, but we folk in the South look with disdain on his cheesecake recipe. Here, only PLAIN and unadorned cheesecake is at the top tier–preferably that with Zwieback crust, lots of lemon in the cream cheese itself, and NO fruit-laden topping. It is an interesting dichotomy that Saint Raymond, who preached the gospel of less is more and restraint in automotive and industrial design would favor a concoction with blueberry adornments and a crust that is on par with something from Shoneys! Graham cracker crust is as wrong on cheesecake just as it is on key lime pie! And CORNSTARCH!!! My Mother is shaking her head in heaven. If anyone would like the recipe for REAL cheesecake (yes, you can add your own fresh fruit–preferably without any goo, if you just have to), I will be happy to comply. This, in no way brings the genius of Lowey down. However, it should be pointed out that one of his greatest talents was conceiving brilliant ideas and getting others to carry them out. Tom Kellog, and others on the original Avanti team, come to mind.

    Liked by 1 person


      Re the graham cracker crust – especially since the recipe as posted calls for a frozen one – I think is a later edition. I have a tough time imagining Loewy doing that – and I thought that as I was doing the blog post.

      You are spot-on about Loewy conceiving things and others carrying the concept out. Prominent example: Robert Bourke’s ’53-’54 Studebaker Starliner which everyone calls the “Loewy coupes”.


  2. Seldom does one young or old, get to know someone like Mr. Kerr. I enjoyed the tribute and the story. The Avanti is an undate-able car, seems to fit in any year.
    Interesting stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack – you are so right! The Avanti is a timeless design – like the ’53-’54 Studebaker Starliner coupes.

      Mr. Kerr was a fine man and very civic-conscious.

      “They don’t make ’em like they used to …”


  3. John McCall 06/02/2018 — 14:18

    Ok, gentlemen [and ladies, too]…herewith is what I believe to be my good friend Mimi Platter’s cheesecake recipe. I say that it is an approximation because all her recipes were closely guarded–a trait common in the deep South. They hid these concoctions in vaults. They were trademarks of entertainment in the home– which was critical, especially in small towns like Moultrie, Georgia where I grew up staying after school for drawing cars in algebra class. Mimi, by the way, grew up with Packards in her family, so you can guess that the following will be top-of-the-line and appropriate for the Patricians on your guest list.

    14 Zwieback crackers, finely crushed
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter, melted {if salted, leave out pinch of salt below; if unsalted provide a pinch as prescribed}

    Mix above ingredients and press into a 10 x 3 inch springform pan. Add filling.

    3 pounds Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese {no substitutes}
    6 eggs, room temperature
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    Juice of one lemon {Meyer, if available}
    2 1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons flour
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract {Watkins makes one of the best}
    Tiny pinch of salt

    Cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add cream and flour alternately. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Pour into prepared crust in springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until cake begins to brown. When done it should be light tan all over. Turn temperature off and leave cake in closed oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove pan from oven and chill. You may then add chilled fresh fruit {such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, with a bit of lemon juice and extra sugar if they are very tart. Or, give your guests a choice with each in crystal bowls. I will look the other way if you choose to use that gooey, starchy, blueberry concoction of Lowey’s.}

    Tip: When baking, place a pan with one inch of water on the rack under the cheesecake and leave throughout the time the cake is in the oven. This recipe serves about 20. It even freezes well!


  4. rulesoflogic 20/03/2018 — 12:46

    Love this post…maybe you’ll like this

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gary Lindstrom 16/07/2019 — 17:26

    The John McCall posting here must not be either of the Studebaker owning John McCalls that I know. I doubt that either of them would incorrectly spell both Loewy and Kellogg.


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