- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

"I just love the look of that truck," Tom Edmonds never tires of repeating. He is referring to his red 1951 Studebaker 2R half-ton pickup.
Studebaker manufactured this model pickup truck virtually unchanged from 1949 through 1953. A total of 110,550 were built, each with a base price of $1,262.
Mr. Edmonds, chief executive officer of Edmonds and Hackney political consultants, is a hopelessly lost Studebaker aficionado. He already owns other Studebaker automobiles, but about a year ago he decided the time for a Studebaker truck had come.
He began shopping and in the spring he found on the Internet a truck too good to pass up.
He had already spent a year working up to it with his wife, Schuyler, so she was prepared when he sprung the news to her about what a fantastic deal this would be.
The beauty of the Internet is that the pictures are right there. When Mr. Edmonds went online and called up the truck pictures, his wife agreed, saying, "That is the cutest thing."
"I was home free at that point," Mr. Edmonds said happily.
He made a bid, but he failed to meet the reserve. Thereafter, he corresponded with the seller via e-mail and learned the truck was being sold for a friend.
A series of e-mail exchanges eventually convinced Mr. Edmonds the truck could be his.
In April he bought a pair of airline tickets to Ontario, Calif., for him and his brother, Norris. Meeting them, the owner drove them home to where the truck was parked in Riverside.
There Mr. Edmonds first saw the restored Cherokee red Studebaker with the indented running boards, the dimpled hub caps with accompanying trim rings adorning the white wheels — and, of course, the two outrigger mirrors.
Climbing into the cab, Mr. Edmonds settled into the black seat and looked about at the black cardboard headliner, the black rubber floor mat, and the red painted dashboard and saw nothing he didn't like. After one trip around the block, he was sold.
He bought the truck on April 12. That's when the big adventure began. The two Edmonds brothers were about to drive cross-country in the cab of a Studebaker pickup.
"At first, we paralleled I-10," Mr. Edmonds explains. "Our route took us through Flagstaff, Ariz., Albuquerque, N.M., Amarillo, Texas, Oklahoma City, Okla., then a straight shot through Arkansas to Memphis, Tenn., and then Nashville and Knoxville before turning up into Virginia."
The entire trip stretched 2,666 miles and Mr. Edmonds says the 112-inch wheelbase delivered a reasonably good ride.
The brothers stopped briefly early in the trip in Salome, Ariz., after a shimmy developed at highway speed. They paid $44.64 to get the tires balanced, the oil changed and a fresh oil filter installed.
With the overdrive employed, the 85-horsepower Studebaker delivered 22/23 mpg fuel economy. "It didn't burn any oil, but it leaked some," Mr. Edmonds explains. "It's a Studebaker."
The brothers enjoyed the passing scenery. "We couldn't talk with the windows up or down," Mr. Edmonds said. "The road noise was excessive."
Mr. Edmonds recalls, "The vintage of the truck made people smile." The drivers of the big trucks were very nice, he said. They were aware of the limitations of a 50-year-old truck.
A most remarkable happenstance occurred along the way at a remote truck stop. Mr. Edmonds recollects stopping for gasoline when a modern truck pulled in towing a trailer on which was a rusted-out hulk of a 1951 Studebaker pickup. Somebody, somewhere was planning on restoring yet another Studebaker pickup. "It was a ghost of a truck," Mr. Edmonds said.
All the way across the continent, the weather was bad just ahead of them, but they drove along under clear skies. They came close to several places that would have been nice to visit. "We blew right by the Grand Canyon without stopping," Mr. Edmonds said. "We were trucking," he said, "both literally and figuratively."
The last night on the road was spent in Abingdon, Va. When they woke up snow was coming down. Although anxious to get on the road, the ignition key could not be found. Finally, through a logical thought process, the key was located where it had been discarded in the trash.
With the Studebaker firing on all six cylinders of the 170-cubic-inch L-head engine, they pushed on toward home with the vacuum wipers struggling to keep the snow off the windshield.
Since getting the truck home, Mr. Edmonds hasn't taken it to any old car shows. The singular event has been a garden party in which his truck played a major role as the centerpiece. The only other moment of note was delivering Mr. Edmonds' niece to her wedding in the Studebaker pickup.
These are the special times for which Mr. Edmonds purchased his Studebaker.


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