Gear Head Tuesday – Studebakers at McClellan Park

Gear Head

Studebaker Drivers Club had a meeting at McClellan Park, CA 26-28 September 2019

McClellan Park is located northeast of Sacramento and is the site of the former McClellan Field Army Air Corp/U.S. Air Force base. The B-25 bombers used in the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan in April, 1942 were prepared at McClellan and then flown to the Naval Air Station at Alameda, CA on San Francisco Bay where they were loaded onto the flight deck of U.S.S. Hornet, CV-8 for the trek across the Pacific.

McClellan Park

McClellan Park is now a mixed use site that includes housing and is home to many small and some not so small businesses and the air strip is still in use for private’s aircraft. There is a fine aviation museum and on Thursday, the Studebaker Drivers Club members posed their cars by the planes. (We weren’t able to get photos of that part of the event.)

We will begin with a ’58 Packard Hawk owned by a resident of Roseville, CA, who is also restoring a ’56 Studebaker Golden Hawk. This Packard Hawk is one of only 588 built.

58 Packard Hawk58 Packard Hawk

The Packard Hawks shared the supercharged 289 cubic inch Studebaker V-8 with the Studebaker Golden Hawk:

58 Packard Hawk - Supercharger

Now, we will show cars we photographed in chronological order. The oldest that we photographed was a ’41 Commander, though there was at least one car from the ’20s and several from the ’30s.

41 Studebaker Commander - fr41 Studebaker Commander - l

Among Studebaker’s Defense work in World War II was the production of Weasels, this one being from 1943:

43 Studebaker Weasel

Moving now into the postwar years, we begin with this beautiful ’52 Commander V-8 Starlight:

52 Studebaker Commander V-8 Starlight

Here is a fine ’53 Commander V-8 Starlight followed by a ’54 Commander V-8 Starlight:

53 Studebaker Commander Starlight54 Studebaker Commander V-8 Starlight64 Studebaker Commander V-8 Starlight - fr

We didn’t see any ’55 Studebakers but there was this original, unrestored ’56 Champion two door showing only 42,662 miles:

56 Studebaker Champion 2 door

For 1957, there was this golden Golden Hawk:

57 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Aside from the ’58 Packard Hawk, model year 1958 was represented by this Scotsman pickup. With the success of the low-priced Scotsman car in the ’57-’58 recession, Studebaker fielded this stripped down pickup in the Scotsman range. Note the plaid behind the name on the hood:

58 Studebaker Scotsman pickup

We don’t have any representatives from the ’59 or ’60 model years, but we show you this grille of a ’61 Hawk with a license plate frame from Arbuckle, CA. Arbuckle is a tiny farming community some 60 miles north of Sacramento. Auto designer Dutch Darrin (who did the Packard Darrins and work for Kaiser) was also a pilot and operated an aircraft farm field spraying operation out of Arbuckle for a time. The license plate frame on this Hawk boasts that this dealer in Arbuckle was Studebaker’s oldest dealer. If you know how remote and small Arbuckle is, this is an amazing boast!

61 Studebaker Hawk

Courtesy of Alden Jewell, we have several photos of Atran’s Studebaker in Arbuckle. Note that Atram also sold Oliver Tractors, which makes perfect sense given the agricultural roots of this community. Arbuckle was a long way from nowhere in the days before I-5 was built – and even with I-5, it seems a long way from anywhere!

Atran's Garage

Atran’s also sold Packards from 1954-1958:

A. J. Atran's, 1958

Atran's Garage, 1959

Atran’s sold Studebakers from 1910 through 1964.

The 1962 model year was represented by two red Gran Turismo Hawks. The red and white one hails from Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco east Bay Area and was driven to the meet. Very few “trailer queens” here – this is the Studebaker Drivers Club!

62 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk62 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk - rf

1963 was represented by a gold R-2 Supercharged Avanti and a Rose Mist Gran Turismo Hawk. The Avanti has the paint and upholstery from the factory.

63 Studebaker Avanti R-263 Studebaker Avanti R2

63 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk - Rose Mist

Also representing the ’63 model year was this red Avanti. Like the gold one above, it left South Bend as an R-2 Supercharged Avanti, but the owner has fitted many R-3 pieces to the engine:

63 Studebaker Avanti

The 1964 model year was well-represented by six Gran Turismo Hawks and a beautiful ’64 Cruiser. Note the Ben A. Begier license plate frames on the ’64 Cruiser. Ben Begier was a long-time Studebaker dealer in San Leandro. The family sold Buicks after Studebaker ceased auto production and still has a Studebaker tow truck. The Begier family has recently been selling some of its Studebaker collection on Hemmings.

64 Studebaker Cruiser - r64 Studebaker Cruiser

64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk - black

64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk - Bermuda Brown

This green ’64 Gran Turismo Hawk is an R-2 Supercharged model:

63 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk R-2

There were many more cars we didn’t photograph, some representing years we didn’t show above. Studebaker Drivers Club is noted for its camaraderie and friendliness and we certainly observed those traits in our visits to this meet at McClellan Park.

Studebaker S logo


Add yours →

  1. Kimberly Margosein 01/10/2019 — 09:21

    A quick idea off the top of my head. IIRC, the Studebaker brothers made their nest egg building wheelbarrows and wagons for the California miners. I wonder if that dealer in Arbuckle started out selling wheelbarrows?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your visit and comment! I’ve since updated the post. Alden Jewell provided a photo of Atran’s. The caption under the photo indicates that Atran’s began as a blacksmith shop in 1876. I don’t know if Studebaker was still building wheelbarrows at that time or not. My (perhaps erroneous) understanding is that John Studebaker was building the wheelbarrows in Hangtown, now known as Placerville and then returned to South Bend to join his brothers in their wagon building business there. I don’t know that Studebaker made wheelbarrows in South Bend. (OTOH, I don’t know that they didn’t, either! 😊). If you scroll down in this story, you’ll see 2 Studebaker wagons on display in San Juan Bautista, CA:

      Also note Chris Marshall’s comment about the wheelbarrows.


  2. Chris Marshall 01/10/2019 — 12:18

    The local museum in Placerville ( Hangtown ) had a wheelbarrow made by John Studebaker. At least i was told as much. I wish that I had done some planning, I would have brought my unrestored ’55 Champion! All in all, a very nice article, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gary Lindstrom 01/10/2019 — 19:13

    It is nice to see so many almost completely stock appearing cars. One that surprises me is the 1958 Packard Hawk. It appears to be a nice restoration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary – there were a lot of non-stock cars there. I didn’t photograph them. I tend to be a purist. For that reason, I almost didn’t post the photo of the red Avanti – but the modifications were in keeping with what could be had “off the shelf” from Studebaker, so I relented.


  4. Eric Butler 02/10/2019 — 02:32

    What a FANTASTIC way to take ‘us’ along with you. Thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. I need a towel; I’m drooling!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy to have happened upon your page, my grandpa, Vernon C. Short after the war sold Studebakers in Santa Monica.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for visiting and for your comment! I’ll pass this information about your grandfather on to “Ajay” who collects information about dealers. He very well may have something about this Santa Monica Studebaker dealer in his file. Happy New Year to you!


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