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Neil Maken
Huntington Beach, California
1922 Big Six Touring

1922 Touring Finally Finished

Taken from the article in the ASC So. Cal. Chapter's Newsletter...The "ATALANTA".
by Neil Maken
June 2002

Adventures of an Antique Studebaker

I was born in another time. In another place. And in a different world. Ive traveled an awful lot, but decided that California would be my home. For the rest of my life. Hopefully a long life. The roads that Ive traveled werent always smooth, often potholed, muddy, and sometimes nothing more than a cow path. But Ive worked hard, did my best and have been rewarded for my efforts. I come from Indiana. South Bend. I was born there eighty years ago, in 1922. I am venerable, I am old. I have my rattles and I have my health problems. Fortunately, none of them terribly serious and not awfully debilitating. Perhaps its due to a long series of pretty decent guys taking pretty good care of me. Like a lot of us old-timers, my memory is not all that Id like it to be; much of what I know about my youth and middle age has long been forgotten.  And the last fifteen years or so are not so much my own recollection, but those of some of my owners. Let me tell you a little of what Ive found out about myself. I had a lot of brothers and sisters a really big family. Many were smaller, very few bigger. Im known as a Big Six. Im a touring car seven passenger at that! Oh yeah, I know that touring cars were a dime a dozen, but few of us sported that 126 wheelbase. And my heart is the biggest around, 354 cubic inches of it. My family included coupes, sedans, and even a bus. But despite the fact that theyre all pretty conservative, I love to drop my top and run around in the sun.
In the late 1980s I was still getting around, although not very well. I was living in a small farming town in California known as Modesto. Around 1990 a nice man and his wife saw me resting in a large building and offered me a home in beautiful, sunny Southern California. I hopped up onto his trailer okay, I really didnt hop I needed a little help getting up there and made the trip south. What a fuss they made over me. So many pictures. I felt like a movie star. And then they started disassembly. What an ordeal. Everything. I mean everything came off. Fenders, doors, cowl, dash, windshield, bows, lights. Even now its much too painful to recall. I dont remember much after that. Then about five years later I heard that my new owner, the one that promised to make me young again, died. I found myself stuck in the corner of a big warehouse. My fenders were on that high shelf over there; my doors someplace else. I guess though I was lucky. My body sat on my frame and my engine was still intact. But the woodworking tools, and the scraps of remaining new wood just lay there, untouched. I sat there for another four or five years. And then one day, the warehouse door opened, a man came in, crawled over the Model Ts and As and came over to me. He looked, he poked, he prodded. He dug around in my body, he went away and he
came back. He took some pictures too. And one day, a great day for me, three or four men came in, moved the Model Ts and As around and pushed me into the sunlight. I remember a long driveway (one wheel fell off on the way) and then onto another trailer.
From there things started to happen. And happen fast. The wood in my body was completed. The body came off and was taken to a local shop where they hammered, pounded, pushed and sanded, and then covered me with a layer of primer. And then the man and his daughter came to the body shop, talked to the owner and told him of a great color that they wanted. Next thing I knew I was in a paint booth. Call it wine, or burgundy or rich maroon. I dont know colors. I just know that it was the most beautiful color Ive ever seen. Over black fenders and skirts, and a black radiator cowl. Man, I looked good!
In the meantime my frame and engine were undergoing the same kind of treatment. And for the first time in over a decade, I tasted gasoline and it was so good. I was so excited I fired right up. Sure I needed some tweaking. I still do actually. But I ran. Before long my body was carefully being lowered onto my frame. I felt like a king. Then onto another trailer. Where to now, I wondered? I was carefully unloaded at another shop and a couple of men started retying my seat-springs and reupholstering my seats with rich-smelling black leather.  The doors were covered to match what I remembered from ages ago. And one day, one glorious day, one fantastic day, my owner came by again, but this time without a trailer. He climbed in, fired me up and although I puffed, burped, snorted and did all sorts of unmentionable and rude things, he drove me about two miles to his shop. Then he tinkered, he adjusted, he fixed, he replaced, and little by little I learned to run quietly, start properly and behave as is befitting my background. Im still learning how to stop, and I get balky about charging my battery, but were working on those things too.
My big adventure meant another trailer trip; this time to Ventura, California where I had a chance to meet and even travel with some of my brothers and sisters. A couple a few years older than me, many much younger and more active. But I held my own. I got on that freeway with the young kids - the 1931s and 1925s - and I performed admirably. Along the coast and through the farmland. Up the hills and down the mountains. And that evening, after a short rest, a fast night-time drive toward the restaurant with a backseat full of friends. Oh, I felt so good. I was doing what I am supposed to do, and I was doing it so well. (I even won an award!)
Today I had another terrific day. Yesterday I was polished and scrubbed, my leather conditioned and my tires inflated. My oil and water were checked and all of the fingerprints removed from my body. Early this morning my owner and his wife, looking quite patriotic, hopped in and took me for a trip. Several members of the American Legion climbed into my back seat they were about my age, but Im in much better shape and condition and we traveled in the Huntington Beach July Fourth Parade. I tooted my horn, blew my air whistle and did what my parents, The Studebaker Brothers, planned for me. I performed flawlessly. Boy, am I looking forward to a nice, quiet night in the garage tonight. What will tomorrow bring for me?


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