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1961 Studebaker Lark coupe

I have the opportunity to buy this car with about 45ooo original miles, original interior, no exterior rust and in running condition. Anyone have any experience with this car?

Try here:


What price are they asking? They seem to sell for $2000-$5000 on Ebay, buy lots depends on the condition and options.

Judging by the way you presented your question, I?m guessing that you would buy the Stude because it is a novelty, not because you are a collector. Keep in mind that any old, unrestored car is, well?.it?s an old, unrestored car - waiting to break down. Frequently. The novelty will wear off but the unreliability and associated costs will go on forever. I own and restore old cars and hot rods for fun (it?s supposed to be for money but, oh well) and can tell you that the purchase cost of an old car is to the total cost what sex is to having children. The initial fun part doesn?t cost much or last long (disclaimer: time duration may vary according to participants) but in the long run you?ll need to finance the farm. Does $60,000 to $100,000 sound like too much to pay for a frame-off resto? If not, I?ll send you my email address. And, as with children, your tolerance for frequent problems will ultimately determine whether or not you enjoy the car whether it is restored or unrestored. In any case, you must possess one or all of the following if you decide to purchase the Stude:

  1. A mechanic who understands old cars. Few young mechanics are comfortable around the old induction systems.
  2. A very large tool box on wheels that requires a step ladder and oxygen supply to access the upper levels and equipped with many obsolete tools (remember dwell meters?)
  3. Copious amounts of alcoholic beverages

My unreliable advice? Get crazy and buy it anyway :slight_smile:

It’s a simple, reliable, antique car… It’s brakes, steering, suspension are CRUDE. It was the low-end model. It has ZERO “coolness”. So why do you want to own this car??? As a daily driver? There are MUCH better choices.

Caddyman, I see your posts often, and I enjoy reading them and respect your insight. But I have to say, you seem to be against people using old cars, and almost always suggest later model, better engineered cars. No insult intended, and I see your point if the people are just looking for transportation, but the questions pertaining to the older iron are almost always from people who want THAT particular year, make, and model, and are simply looking for information regarding same. I’m way biased towards the older stuff,so maybe I’ve got tunnel vision, but if I had my sights set on a certain car and the reply I got was, “It’s junk; get a newer car”, it’d be an answer to a question I didn’t ask.

I am quite familiar with Studebakers of this era. My dad owned a 1963 Lark with the 259 cubic inch V-8 and standard transmission. It had good performance and very good gasoline mileage. The 1961 Lark could have been equipped with this engine, or it could have had a 169 cubic inch inline 6 with overhead valves. For the 1961 model year, Studebaker converted its 6 cylinder L-head(flathead 6) to overhead valves. Some of these converted engines experienced head cracks around the valves. Most of these were repaired under warranty, but it is a potential trouble spot.
The automatic transmission was made by Borg Warner. There were some problems with this transmission–the manual transmission, particularly equipped with overdrive is a better bet.

One interesting tidbit: in the 1959 and 1960 Larks, the V-8 got virtually the same mileage as the L head 6 and certainly had better performance. The switch to overhead valves in 1961 improved the performance and mileage of the 6, but it couldn’t hold a candle in performance to the V-8. I’ve driven both the 1963 six and V-8 equipped with manual transmission. The 6 was o.k., but the V-8 was more fun to drive.

One other noteworthy fact about the Studebaker Lark–it had a frame and was not a unitized frame and body. The other compact cars of 1961-the Ford Falcon,the Rambler Classic and Rambler American, the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Lancer, and the Chevrolet Corvair were all unibody cars. I believed back then, and still believe, that the body on frame is a better construction and the Lark was the best of the compact cars. Had Larks been available in 1965 when I began my career, I think I would have purchased the Lark instead of the Rambler that I did buy.

If this car is in the great shape that you claim it to be in, then I would buy it in a heartbeat!
Back in 1967, I drove the last Studebaker in the State of NJ’s motorpool, and it was incredible in comparison to the Fords, Chevies, and Plymouths in the fleet.

Even though it only had the 6-cylinder engine, it accelerated with ease in comparison to the larger (6-cylinder) cars in the fleet. And, even without power steering, it steered with relative ease. It also rode well, had good brakes (by the standard of the day) and was easier to park than the bigger sedans in the motorpool.

The problems that afflicted these Studes were the valve problems that Triedag mentioned, lots of engine oil leaks, and rust–with rust being the biggest bugaboo. Check again to verify the rust-free condition of the car. The prime areas for rust were at the rear frame mounts, in the area of the rear axle. If it really is rust-free, you have a gem!


Thanks. I may need you to convince my husband on this purchase. He is being way to realistic.

Not a daily drive, just for fun. ( I realize the fun would wear off when it breaks down.) As for coolness, I think is it very CUTE!

So nelaud02, is your find a 6 or a V8?? (I think Stude V8’s were 289 stick shift or automatic?

In an effort to save the struggling company, the federal government bought thousands of them so there were a LOT of them around for a while…Rust is what sent most of them to the scrap-yard…They were all painted battleship gray…But they were / are easy enough to work on…It’s just when I hear “Studebaker” I think “Golden Hawk”…

Besides getting it thoroughly checked out by a mechanic, you also need to take it for an extended test drive to make sure you like driving it well enough to make buying it worthwhile. Pay particular attention to the steering and the braking, they’re likely not what you’re used to. Slow accelleration is OK, but slow stopping is another thing entirely!

Don’t know about the 6 or 8 yet. It is a 3 speed on the column.

My first engine overhaul was a flat head 6 cylinder Studebaker Lark. It was a very friendly and forgiving car to work on. I have seen people throw away their lives at casinos in a weekend. It will take several years to do so with an old Studebaker. If it suits you buy and enjoy.

“I may need you to convince my husband on this purchase. He is being way to realistic.”

Put him in charge of the beer.

Open the hod and count the spark plugs. Since the 6-cyl engine is in-line, the plugs will all be on one side.