In A Barn Since 1973: 1963 Studebaker Lark

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It’s Studebaker Tuesday at Barn Finds! Or, it is for me. This blurry car is actually razor sharp once you dig into it. It’s a 1963 Studebaker Lark and it’s in Joppa, Alabama, between Birmingham and Huntsville. It’s listed on eBay with a current bid price of just over $1,000, but the reserve isn’t met. This one is a winner for those of you who are looking for an inexpensive project car. What will this one go for? $3,000? $5,000?

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Ahhhh, that’s better; focus, people, focus! This car is amazing, the seller says that it “was parked in barn in 1973.” Although I prefer the first-generation design this one checks almost every box for me, and hopefully it does for a few hundred thousand of you. It’s small, it’s unique, and you won’t see two dozen of them at every car show. And here’s where it gets really good: it’s a two-door (!), it has a manual transmission (!!), it has a V8 (!!!), it has very little if any rust (!!!!), and the interior is in amazing, original condition (!!!!!)! (too excited?)

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What great condition this car is in! It was supposedly parked in a barn back in 1973 and it only has 74,000 miles on it, so even when it was driven it wasn’t driven that much. By now we probably all know the sad end of Studebaker, having ended production in the US for cars (see Studebaker Zip Van post) in 1963 but the Lark was also made in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada until 1966. But, being Canadian cars of course they were right hand drive.. Just kidding! There doesn’t appear to be really any rust on this car other than around some of the edges and a small spot in the trunk, but even that doesn’t look bad for a car that’s almost as old as I am.

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Being a 1963 Lark, it’s the last year of the second-generation Lark series before production moved up to be with our friends in Canada for the remaining 1964-66 third-and-last generation. I think that this car is a homerun, for the reasons that I far-too-excitedly listed a couple of paragraphs ago. The interior is in amazing shape, other than some weird wrinkling on the top of the dash and some rusty-looking edges, which always makes me nervous especially with a car that’s from the south where it’s humid. You’ll want to pull up the rubber floor covering and see what’s under there and treat it for sure. And, it’ll need new windlace and a few other details. Parts are available for most of the things that you may need to replace on this car. The driver’s side kickplate looks a little warped, but it can’t be from rodents because the seats are almost factory-perfect. Hopefully it’s not water damage. I’d want to pay an inspection company to check this one out in person.

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Here’s what almost everyone wants in these cars, and in almost any vehicle that they’re looking at: a V8 engine. This is Studebaker’s 4.2L, 259 cubic inch V8 with 138 hp and 260 ft-lb of torque. Here’s what this engine should look like and will again. Unfortunately, the seller says that this engine “does not run.” I’m hoping that it isn’t stuck, but who knows what the problem is. I’m guessing that they haven’t tried super hard to get it to run which is probably a good thing. This car also has a three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Sure, buckets seats and a floor shifter would be better, but beggars can’t be choosers.

This car checks a ridiculous amount of boxes on my wish list for any vehicle. And, on top of all of that, I’m a huge Studebaker fan and an even bigger Studebaker Lark fan. I would most likely not do anything to the exterior of this Lark other than to maybe wax and buff it up a bit. I’d check the underside to make sure there isn’t a rust-through problem and maybe put something on it to protect it from any further rust. I’d want to fix the dash, windlace, and rubber mats for the floors and, of course, the engine is the big wildcard here. But, since we flew to the moon and back 47 years ago, I’m guessing that most of you could get this one purring again in no time. Would you restore this car, or just get things working and leave it looking like it was stored in a barn since 1973?

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  1. Fred W.

    Seller should address the elephant in the room, which is whether or not the engine is stuck.

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  2. HoA Howard AMember

    Well, it’s Wednesday in upstate NY today ( must be a delay), probably one of the best Studebakers. This one is pretty basic, you could get some fancy Lark’s, This one appears to have O/D ( red handle left of steering column) but not much else. I’d think a 2 door would be pretty rare, as most were 4 doors or wagons. I’m sure you can find everything for the motor. I’d keep it stock, these ran great and the O/D seals the deal. Can’t go wrong here.

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    • WayneMember

      The red handle is the hood release. Unfortunately, I don’t see an overdrive lockout handle, which is chrome.

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  3. packrat

    The padded dash will want a rebuilding. The foam rubber hardens and rots in interesting patterns. I am a little surprised it doesn’t have air conditioning–dollar to a donut someone replaced it for an a/c bearer at 74k. I had a 63 4dr. in white, dad had a Regal with this same engine until the block cracked. Late enough to have a two stage master cylinder. I’d really enjoy this one.

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  4. don

    this would make a great sleeper

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  5. Terry

    Had a Lark in high school. Six cylinder, three speed w/overdrive, Twin Track rear end and hillholder. Built like a tank and got 23-26mpg on the highway. Great cars.

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  6. Chebby

    About 15 years ago, some friends and I chipped in on one of these as a wedding gift for a buddy. It was kind of a gag, but the car was pretty nice: it had fresh paint, a 283 with dual exhaust and a 3-speed, and we only paid $500…and that was from a classic car dealer too. I still don’t know what the catch was. We put the Studey keys in a velvet jewelry box and presented it that way. To say his wife was surprised is an understatement.

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  7. stillrunners

    The red handle is for the hood release – yep – a little added value back in the day to keep what’s under the hood – under the hood ! The O/D handle would be on the right like the hand brake lever. Nice little Lark – I have and R-1 1963 Cruiser a runner/driver which was bid up to about this a few years ago but did not met my reserve of $2500. Again it’s not the most sought after but the V/8 – pedals – and coupe is a big plus – the pics are blurry for a reason but I don’t see the usual rust in the fenders by the door.

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  8. Bobsmyuncle

    Argh I inexplicably stopped getting emails from Barnfinds as happens, neglected to stop in. I would have LOVED to bid on this car it checks all my want boxes too!

    Like 0

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