1880 Studebaker: The Original Wagon

1880 Studebaker Wagon

There are wagons and then there are wagons! No this isn’t a joke, alright so maybe it’s a little bit, but this is still an interesting find. The wagon you see above is a Studebaker wagon, an actually wagon not a station wagon, that was discovered in an old barn. The seller claims they are the 3rd owner (insert funny comment about owner’s age here) and that it is completely original, it even has its original paint! I’m honestly not sure if the seller is serious about this or if they listed it to be funny, either way I got a good laugh out of it plus it made me think about the history of the car. Looking at this wagon, which you can find here on craigslist, it’s hard to see the connection between it and the modern car. If it weren’t for horse drawn wagons, the automobile we know today might be a lot different. The only problem I see with this wagon is figuring out what to do with it, as I currently don’t have a team of horses to pull it! Special thanks to Harlan B for the tip!


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  1. Chebby

    The original Wagonaire!

    LOL at thinking someone on craigslist is going to pay $20K for it.

  2. SoCal Car Guy

    And no rust…

  3. kenzo

    would have been nice to see a lot more pictures and some close-ups. Like maybe a picture of the Studebaker name plate or something to identify it as claimed. 135 years old. condition looks amazing. no mention of documentation for the claim of the Oklahoma Land Run. Whole ad looks awful thin.

    Like 1
  4. Bill S

    Don’t think the numbers match. Not the original power plant or transmission.

  5. charles hefner

    Hmm….wonder if they have the original horse?…..lol

  6. tball

    I’d be concerned about the lack of drive train/chassis pix. Seriously, no yoke? How do they expect you to power it – especially for the $20k all in price. Thanks for the post, love the old woody wagons.

  7. Dave Wright

    I have collected and operated horse drawn carriages and wagons for decades. I bought 3 museums and resold the (mostly carriages) on the collector market. An old mentor of mine once told me that humans have been building horse drawn vehicles for Maby 30,000 years……and (at that time) cars for 100. People frequently miss the level of engineering and art that went into horse drawn vehicles. Studebaker was huge in the trade. They used assembly line mass production techniques long before Ford was born. They were the General Motors of carriage manufacturing, companies like Brewster were the high end manufacturers. Few Studebakers had labels or serial numbers. Many were built as simple axle with chassis and shipped by the thousands to craftsmen in the west for completion for customers. Most of the time, the only way to positively identify a Stude is to pull the wheel, they frequently would stamp the axle shaft with there name. I’d you are fortunate enough to find a Brewster, they are perfectly documented with serial numbers. The current archive holders can usually tell you who the first owner was, when and where it was sold. Another note, most people over estimate the age of horse drawn vehicles, they were still manufacturing them by the tens of thousands as late as the teens and twenties. The survivors are more likely to have been built after 1900 than before. Remember with antique vehicles, electric welding came around in the 20’s so, every detail should be forged or riveted, ball bearings were not common until the turn of the century…….that is where Timken got there start, and solid steel axles were not common until then either. They used cast or forged axle stubs on wooden axles. Lots of history and crossover to the automotive industry we know today.

    • Rancho Bella

      Thank you David for the information, very interesting.

    • Tommi

      The old Studebaker family farm where they started the wagon business is located just east of Ashland, Ohio on Rt. 250. Historical markers have been posted there for a long time. I am not aware of any original Studebaker wagons here in their home territory.

  8. Dave Wright

    Couple of more ramblings, the price this guy wants is nuts……it might be a 3500.00 wagon, it is what we call a grain wagon. They were used to take grain to the elevators from the fields. They were small because grain is heavy and it wasn’t efficient for the teams to pull heavier loads. I bet it has a small door in the bottom center of the rear boards where bulk grain was unloaded. These were very common vehicles and there are common on the market. The hoops and water barrel are phony. Even the most meticulously preserved vehicles of this age require most of the wood and wheels restored or replaced, many times every few years. So, his entire ad has to be considered with great skepticism.

    Like 1
    • kenzo

      Maybe that is why there is no interior or other pictures. And yes the barrel looks a little add on dress up item.

    • Greg

      I own several wagons and agree with Dave Wright on the price I
      have 2 Study’s and have bought and sold lots of them over the years.

  9. DT

    Thanks for all that information.Ive seen one of these before and it had the same paint scheme,So I belive its the original paint.Studebaker is one of my Favorite cars.I had a 1952 convertible,They were used for Indy pace cars that year because it was the companies 100th year in business.I have a pinback button that says Studebaker,Wagons,carriages & harness.1852

  10. Dave Wright

    That color is John Deere Green………also another major wagon builder. John Deere wagons were conspicuously labeled with painted signage in yellow. I am very skeptical of this entire presentation.

  11. Rev Rory

    Just reading and looking, I’d say that posting is about a month late…(great insight, Mr Wright, I learned a bunch right there.)

  12. francisco

    Oklahoma Land Run!? Maybe I’ll buy it and take it to my oceanfront property in Arizona. Right after I ride it across the Brooklyn Bridge which I just bought.

  13. Cameron Bater UK

    From the images here I can’t get a full sense of scale but it is definitely a 2 horse, maybe 4 pony wagon.

  14. Harlan

    That is what is so cool about this site, Dave jumped right in and educated us on old horse drawn wagons! Thanks Dave. The comments are the best on these kind of posts.
    I always learn something. I sent it in as a real Barn find, more than anything. I am glad they put it up.

  15. Dave Wright

    It has a pole…..it has to have at least 2 horses. If it was driven by a single horse, it would have 2 shafts, these were nearly always driven by 2 horses as were very fine carriages. To me the best Studebaker wagons are the sheep herders or Basque sheep wagons used here in the west. They truly are the first Winnebagos. They included small wood stoves with ovens, a comfortable bed and everything needed for months at a time in the back country. I don’t think the bodies were made by Stude because they are too intricate but Stude running gear was common. There are some wonderful examples being restored by officanodos the last 20 years here in the west. If you look at the spring seat on this wagon for scale, the wagon box is not over 4 feet wide. That is typical for a grain wagon. The best wagons had full turn steering axles, that is the steering axle/wheels would turn underneath the body of the wagon. This made for a much shorter turning radius (Remember horses will walk sideways) and also a much safer wagon (or carriage) it the horses spooked and backed up with a wagon like this, they would turn it over. With a full turn (or cut under) wagon it was difficult to flip. On the issue of paint, in the 19th century, paint was generally poor….almost like whitewash with some color pigment added. They wanted it to soak into the wood to protect it. Good nitrocellouse paint came in the 20th century. In the eara of these work wagons, things were designed so they could be repaired by the owners, Labor was cheep so they wanted wood construction that could be repaired as it needed by a farm hand. Boards and wood parts wore and broke under common use. It was important to be able to replace a board to keep it operating. Some later grain wagons had tin or copper linings in the bed mostly to make them easier to unload. I think many times we underestimate how clever humans have always been. It is not unique to modern generations, these guys had to be clever to survive, probably more than we do today.

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