Gary Fiske [ March 2013 ]
1917 Studebaker Tour Car Changes VAE Homes" Owner Gene Towne
From a home in the Great Northeast Kingdom
The Champlain Valley…
January 20th, 2013 was a cold and windy day in Greensboro Bend. Hundreds of Snow Rollers were poked up in the white fields around Dave and Dot Maunsell’s home on Cook Hill. Dot had prepared a great lunch while outside at times one could see only a few feet through the swilling snow, only the Champlain Valley folks seems to be amazed at the weather outside.
Four VAEers had made their way to Cook Hill to haul the 1917 Studebaker back to Milton. The car had spent the last 18 years in Dave Maunsell’s garage and driven frequently . Gene Towne of Milton had finally convinced Dave to sell him the car after many months of negotiations. Dave is pictured above on the left and Gene on the right. (unknown to all of us at the time...the two trailer tires you can see are flat! Try to picture some ole-guys taking turns replacing the air with a hand pump...yes you have it.)
A friend had told Dave about the car and in 1995 Dave and Pev Peake drove to Michigan to examine it. The car was mostly original and had very little wear. So Dave bought the car and had it hauled home. He and Gael Boardman put new rod bearings and piston pins into the engine. Gael knew of two sisters who did leather work, and they made a new leather band for the cone clutch. Otherwise, very little has been done to it. The interior leather is in good condition but the top is not useable. Gene said that will be his first priority, to find a shop to replace the top.
It is a fair weather car. It has a 16 gallon gasoline tank, a vacuum tank and takes six quarts of oil. The owner’s manual states the car will use about a quart of oil every 85 miles. It is capable of 50 miles an hour but with two wheel brakes, which are marginal and have never been replaced, 40 MPH is a safer speed today. The speed limits in 1917 were 25MPH on the highway and 10MPH in town.
One unique feature is that the front passenger seat can be flipped to face the rear passengers. Another is that there are two ’jump seats’, with arm rests that can be used and then stored under the rear seats. The front seats are adjustable back and forth along with the clutch and brake pedals. It has a 6 cylinder engine with a monobloc (no remova-ble head) that produces 50HP. The car has a ‘transaxle’ type transmission where it is ‘married to the rear differential. It was sold new for $1075 in 1917.
In 1917, Studebaker was the largest man-ufacturer in the world of horse drawn equipment, wagons, buggies, gigs harness and the like. They got a contract in 1916 to supply the Allied Armies with their extensive horse drawn army equipment including the wooden caissons and wheel used for field artillery. With the end of the war in 1918, the company directors decided that automobiles were their fu-ture and ceased operation of all horse drawn equipment. They built a new mod-ern auto factory in South Bend, Indiana, where they remained until the end of 1964.