- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

Murray Welsh has no explanation why a 1950 Studebaker Champion Regal Deluxe sedan is parked in his garage, other than its peculiar appeal.

The bullet-nose Studebaker was built in the Philadelphia. Its subsequent history is unknown from then until Mr. Welsh and his wife, Linda, went Studebaker shopping about a decade ago.

They drove to Parole, Md., near Annapolis, where they found a 17-foot, 6-inch-long Studebaker, one of 270,604 Champions built in 1950. It had a base price when new of $1,644.

“It’s so ugly someone needs to save it,” Mrs. Welsh said when she first saw the car.

So they purchased the 2,755-pound sedan. In order to drive it home to Germantown, Mr. Welsh settled behind the two-spoke steering wheel and pressed the clutch to the floor to activate the starter.

With the 170-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine happily pumping out 85 horsepower, he motored home in Studebaker style.

The car rides on a 113-inch wheelbase, which is supported by radial tires that have replaced the original 6.40- by 15-inch bias-ply tires.

Within a couple of years, the Studebaker started having trouble. Mr. Welsh discovered some problems with the 50-year-old electrical wiring. He arranged to have a new wiring harness installed at a shop in New England was almost too much for the old car.

“I barely made it to Germantown, Massachusetts,” he recalled.

After the repairs were made, the trip home was more pleasant with the car effortlessly running with other traffic thanks to overdrive. Mr. Welsh reports average mileage of 20 mpg. The gasoline tank has a capacity of 18 gallons.

When Mr. Welsh had the car painted gray, he had both bumpers and the trunk handle sent away to be replated with chrome. During that time, the car was also reupholstered.

With the Studebaker both looking and running great, Mr. Welsh in 2002 drove his car to South Bend, Ind., to attend a gathering of Studebakers. He made the trip in 11.5 hours, adding that “the 100-mph speedometer is a useful decoration.”

Mr. Welsh said, “The brakes left a lot to be desired.”

Once more he drove in his trusty Studebaker to New England, this time to Maynard, Mass., for new brakes. The original brakes, which were not all that good even in 1950, were replaced with a superior system of 11-inch drums taken from a 1963 Studebaker GT Hawk.

Peering through the two-piece windshield, the chrome-plated hood ornament can be seen above the pointed nose of the car. It is topped with a sleek piece of Lucite.

Front-seat occupants in the car have a surprisingly spacious area because the dashboard drops vertically from the base of the windshield. Between the two pieces of the windshield is a day/night mirror that Mr. Welsh says is “functional.”

In the center of the dashboard is a push-button AM radio. Below the dashboard by the driver’s left knee are three knobs controlling from the left, a water valve for the Climatizer heater, an engine hood release and a manual overdrive.

The original handbrake is beneath the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel. Both front fenders have side vents to direct fresh air into the cabin. Opening either front door turns on a courtesy light on the dashboard.

Another courtesy light, positioned above the curved rear window, is illuminated whenever one of the rear doors is opened. During the eight years that Mr. Welsh has owned his Studebaker, he has driven it about 12,000 miles. He wanted a distinctive car to drive and that’s exactly what he got.

• For your car to become the subject of the Out of the Past column, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view), plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181. Only photos of good quality will be considered. No customs or hotrods accepted.

COPYRIGHT, MOTOR MATTERS, 2009

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