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November 2, 2013

Noble man’s 1948 Studebaker a commanding ride

(Continued)

NORMAN —

This era Studebaker was marketed with the swell advertising phrase, “First by far with a postwar car,” boasting that the body design was all new. The cars were assembled then at a plant in South Bend, Ind., the same small city where the firm had its roots as a farm wagon maker in 1852. The first Studebaker automobile was an electric-powered contraption built in 1902 and the last was a conventional gasoline engine 1966 cruiser model that rolled out of a Hamilton, Ontario, factory.

Frame’s Studebaker still has its factory-installed vacuum tube radio that warms up before sound comes out and then works like a champ. The original owner’s manual was in the glove box and is a remarkable 65-year trip back in time. The booklet’s refreshing brevity and English language phrasing from a distant era is delightful. At the end, there’s a “10 Point Pledge to Drive Safely.” It includes taking care around pedestrians and bicyclists, no boozing it up before driving and slowing down at sunset so you won’t “over-drive” your headlamps.

One fascinating paragraph in the operation section describes the “Automatic Hill-Holder.” While stopped on a hill the mechanism retains brake pressure to keep the car from rolling backwards as long as the clutch is depressed. That way the driver can accelerate using the right foot instead of having it on the brake. Studebaker was the first to offer this Bendix-made option but it was later picked up by other builders. It’s still a feature on some modern cars such as Subaru.

Frame has reworked the braking system himself. Studebaker parts are available because they’re a collectable car. Frame’s has an in-line six cylinder engine with standard transmission shift on the steering column and overdrive operated by pulling a rod in and out on the dash.

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