Rodney Bullock, having just purchased a 1962 Chevrolet in August 1999, hired a truck to take it to his Oxon Hill home.
Along the way the truck driver stopped to refuel. It was there that the owner of a Southern Maryland used car lot intercepted the car. He telephoned Mr. Bullock and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Part of the deal was that Mr. Bullock had the pick of any car on the man’s car lot. Looking over the selection Mr. Bullock discovered that the one car reaching out to him, calling to him, was a 1941 Studebaker Champion.
“I liked the formal, elegant styling,” Mr. Bullock said.
Nothing on the all-blue four-door sedan worked, Mr. Bullock said. After hauling the Studebaker home, he took it apart. “The odometer said 35,000 miles when I got the car,” he said, “but who knows?”
Sandblasting the car down to bare metal exposed all the rusty and damaged spots that needed attention. A new floor pan was welded into place. Not wanting any plastic body filler in his car, Mr. Bullock learned how to work with lead filler.
Because the car last ran in 1972, Mr. Bullock thought it best to go through the 170-cubic-inch, 80-horsepower, six-cylinder engine before attempting to start it. All the hoses, belt and wiring were replaced and new spark plugs installed. The water pump, starter motor and generator needed to be rebuilt. The top part of the gasoline tank and the filler spout were perforated and had to be replaced.
Mr. Bullock chased down parts for his Studebaker in Connecticut and Iowa before joining the Studebaker Drivers Club. Thereafter, various club members offered assistance in finding the required parts.
A complete reupholstery job was needed. “The original material had disintegrated,” Mr. Bullock recalls.
The cruising sedan is well equipped with features such as a hill-holder clutch, vacuum-operated wipers, an AM radio with the antenna sprouting from the roof above the windshield, an under-seat heater and a separate defroster.
Typical on Studebakers are the side vents behind the front fenders.
The rear window is original. However, the other 10 windows were replaced by Mr. Bullock.
Each trim piece has been replated, which adds an extra sparkle to the car.
His research shows that Studebaker built 84,910 Champion models in 1941.
The car left the factory rolling on 5.60x16-inch tires supporting a 110-inch wheelbase.
The 2,435-pound Studebaker sold new for $770.
Mr. Bullock has boosted the size of the tires on his car up to 6.00x16-inches. “I love the four-inch white sidewalls,” he said.
When the time came to repaint the regal Studebaker, he agreed with the obvious thought process of the men who had designed the car more than 60 years ago it deserves a two-tone color combination.
The lines of the car call out for two contrasting colors, especially the color sweep framed in chrome just below the belt line.
Mr. Bullock selected a dark blue color for the body color and a gold color for above the belt line. The color sweep in the midst of the dark blue is also gold.
When Mr. Bullock installed the fender skirts, which enhance the formal appearance of the Studebaker sedan, he declared the restoration complete. It was in November 2000.
Since then, he has taken a 300-mile trouble-free trip in his Studebaker.
Even though the speedometer is prepared to register speeds up to 100 mph, Mr. Bullock said, “I’ve had it up to 65 on a good day.”
Since the flawless shakedown cruise, with Mr. Bullock comfortably seated behind the two-spoke steering wheel, he has taken several other interesting trips with each excursion reaffirming the Studebaker’s reliability.
“Nobody is going to deny me time in my Studebaker,” Mr. Bullock said.