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Jerry &Lorelei
1930 Commander

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Jerry & Lorelei Molitor
Shaw Island, Washington
1930 Studebaker FD Commander Cabriolet 

Jerry Writes:

In 1961 Bill Cannon worked for Astropower Laboratory, near Pasadena, California, doing research work on rocket fuels and propulsion. Driving home one day he spotted in a small repair garage, what turned out to he a 1930 Studebaker FD Cabriolet 8. Bill told the garage owner that he was interested in buying if the car was for sale. The  owner/mechanic completed  the engine overhaul that was in process and, upon completion, Bill bought his first  Studebaker. In researching the car's history, Bill discovered the owner prior to the mechanic was a gentleman from, he thinks, Huntington Beach, who purchased the car in the early I940's. As he was a house painter, and needed a work "truck", he removed the top and rumble seat deck lid, and hauled paint and supplies to the job. Fortunately, he saved the top and deck lid. The owner prior to the painter is unknown, but some people (not Bill) fostered the idea that it was Al Jolson, the legendary singer and actor. Jolson evidently owned a similar car. including the paint    scheme, hut a '29. Easy mistake, as the '29's and '30's are very similar, the size of the wheel hubs being an obvious difference. For the next few years Bill slowly restored the car, meanwhile driving it on many tours with the newly Formed Roaring Twenties Antique Car Club. This group of self-described car crazies had a tour each month (except December) and two overnight tours during the year. Bill never missed a tour in the twenty five years that he was a member. In addition Bill and his wife Charlotte participated in four or five parades each year as well as five or six   major car shows, often taking two cars (by this time Bill had purchased a 1931 Studebaker Commander Brougham, which his son-in-law still drives). In addition, Bill was co-founder of the Orange County Region of the AACA and this group also sponsored half a dozen tours each year. Bill alsodrove in the 1969 and 1973 Glidden Tours, the only Glidden Tours held in California. Of course, we know that Bill founded the Antique Studebaker Club in 1972 and also wanted that club to he a touring club. Reflecting on this activity, Bill marvels that he and Charlotte managed to keep up the schedule and admits that today's traffic would preclude such intensive touring today. The key. he says, is that this touring was fun, and in all the miles driving Studebakers, not once did he have to have a tow. Bill  continued to add Studebakers to his collection, including a 1922 Special Six Touring, a 1927 Standard Six Duplex Phaeton and a 1931 President Four Season Roadster.
Charlotte was an active, enthusiastic participant in Bill's antique car hobby. She especially liked to drive the '30 Cabriolet, which she found easier to drive than the others. She also liked to drive in parades, hosting the Mayor or Fire Chief or Chamber of Commerce Queen in the rumble seat of the '30. Movie stars also rode there, including Lorene Tuttle, Leon Ames, and John Agar (Shirley Temple's first husband), among others. Among the interesting places to tour in Monrovia were the winter residence of John Mohler Studebaker, and a three story mansion down the street from the winter residence of another automobile manufacturer. J.I. Case. Paul C. Hoffman's son, Lathrop, is currently a resident of Bradbury. a nearby community. Bill continued to improve the '30, and in 1965 had the body removed from the frame and repainted in its original colors. This is the paint that is on the car to-day. Bill and Charlotte loved to drive this car, touring to Reno several times, to Las Vegas, to Carmel, San Diego, Sacramento, Monterey and to Death Valley (via the "back roads") where Bill met a group touring in Covered wagons, who were as surprised to sec Bill and his group as they were to see wagons and mules. All in all, Bill estimates he covered about 20,000 miles in the forty years he owned the '30. By comparison, he drove less that 9.000 miles in the twenty live years that he owned the '3 I President Roadster.
Bill agreed to sell me the '30 in June of 2003. 1 feel like the caretaker of a piece of history, and in that vein have embarked on a path of careful restoration of what is truly an historical gem, not only because of its place in Studebaker history but especially  because of the fascinating individual who was its long time owner. My wife and I have named the car Charlotte, in loving  memory of the lady who so much loved to drive this special vehicle.



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