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California Convertible: 1961 Studebaker Lark VIII

Like a lot of people, when we hear that a vehicle is 99% rust-free we think that’s big news, especially when it’s 58 years old. This 1961 Studebaker Lark VIII convertible can be found here on eBay in Manhattan Beach, California. There is a buy it now price of $7,800 and the bids are just over $5,800.

What a solid looking car. This is the last year of the first-generation Larks before they got a bit of a redesign. I personally prefer these first-generation Larks for their simplicity and clean design, but that’s just me. This car has been garaged its whole life and it has spent that life in sunny California. It also has a new $850 windshield.

I always think of Elmer Fudd when I see a side view of a first-gen Lark for some reason, and in a good way. They say that it has no rust, or that it has 99% no rust. I would immediately be suspect of the bottom of the right-front fender unless that’s the other 1%, or maybe it’s something else. This car has new tires and new brakes which is great but they go on to say that the power top motor doesn’t work and the driver’s door needs a new striker, but they have a new striker that goes with the sale.

There is only one interior photo showing a corner of the backseat so we don’t have a clue what the front looks like, but they say that it’s original and very nice. The engine decodes to being Studebaker’s 259 cubic-inch V8 and it looks great. They mention that it was painted after being worked on by Studebaker Parts and Service in Long Beach about six years ago. The seller has the car listed as a 2R10 and I’m not quite sure what that means, maybe one of you will know. It’s definitely not an R2 with a supercharger, at least according to the VIN and how it looks now. Are there any first-generation Lark fans out there?


  1. Howard A Member

    Everytime I see a Lark, I always think, awww, the poor thing. But Studebaker, like AMC, cut their own throats. Larks were great cars, so under appreciated, and it bugs me, when someone mentions Studebaker, one immediately thinks supercharger, when in fact, superchargers were rare. Of all the Studebakers I saw, none had one. I think that’s an “auction” thing, where every Studebaker has to have a supercharger. Although, it’s not a full pressure oil filter, what a great place for one, hey? Studebaker didn’t have a chance, I heard just it’s name sounded old fashioned in a modern world. Like “OLDsmobile”, too many syllables for a car, maybe. Too bad, the Lark was as good, or better than most other cars at the time, just didn’t fly.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      “Have a Lark, have a Lark, have a Lark, Lark, Lark. “

      Like 0
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      I always liked this little square body’s especially in convertible configuration. I think theses came out in 59. A friend of one of my brothers bought one new but was a 4 door model. He special ordered it in baby blue because that was his mothers favorite color. It was a v8 three speed column shift, he bragged it would do 85 in second gear.
      God bless America

      Like 0
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Nice starting point for a restoration. It’s
    really great to see one of these things that hasn’t been eaten up by tinworms.
    As for the top, maybe there’s a hole in a
    vaccuum line that might be affecting the
    top mechanism. Quite a few old timers
    have told me that like Rambler, Studebaker relied on vaccuum operated
    devices like windshield wipers and
    convertible top mechanisms to save
    money. Other than a new top and
    mechanism, this Lark is ready for the
    road. Wait a minute…where are Wilbur
    and Mr. Ed?

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Larks [and other post war Studebakers] used electric wiper motors, and all Larks convertibles had the standard ATF hydraulic convertible top systems, just like the big 3.

      Like 3
  3. David Dykes

    Great starting point for a restoration. One of the more humorous aspects of owning an orphan make? Watching the look on the faces of owners of your dime-a-dozen tri-five Chevrolets or Chevelle SS’s when your car snares both a big crowd of appreciative onlookers & a trophy at the conclusion of an event. Simply priceless – it’s happened to me and my 1959 Rambler American Super countless times over the years….

    Like 1
    • Bob

      I had the same experience with my Metropolians beating everything at car shows. Funny to watch the expressions!!

      Like 1
  4. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Wouldn’t oil spill all over the engine when you removed the filter?

    Like 2
    • Don't Vote Labor

      That’s why its 99% rust free!

      Like 4
    • Kenny

      Poke a hole in the top of the filter with a screwdriver. By the time you’re finished draining the pan and installing the plug, the filter is drained and doesn’t leak a drop. Simple.

      Like 7
  5. Will Fox

    This is a great little Lark! You probably see more sedans than coupes/cvts. of this vintage, and this one is clean!! Yes, that’s a factory color Studebaker offered in `61; I like it. If I could find a decent example of my favorite Lark–the `59-`60 Lark 2dr. wagon, I’d buy it!

    Like 1
  6. H5mind

    “Leak between the engine and transmission”? I hope the seller doesn’t mean a rear main seal. Would be a shame to have to pull that pretty motor again.

    Like 1
  7. Gaspumpchas

    This thing is so ugly its cool. They call the color Flamingo, Great car with that v8 should be a runner!! Good luck to the new owner. Check the underbelly good for ironworms.

    Like 0
  8. Bob C.

    These were very sensible cars and ahead of the competition for v8 power. Too bad its aged design didn’t fare well once the big three came out with their own compacts.Studebaker was very innovative, especially when it came to doing more with less.

    Like 0
  9. Sam61

    What a beauty. If it were mine I would repaint the coral/flamingo color, black convertible top, thin white walls with coral steelies/baby moon, black suede with some loud Tommy Bahama hawian shirt inserts. I was born in 61 and really want a nice 61 of something…

    Like 1
  10. Joe Haska

    The seller’s narative was very infomative. He is not mechanically inclined so he didn’t install a new striker plate, also motor dosn’t run , but it will be easy to find another one. He has two of these and he only needs one. I would like to go look at it just to gather up a few more words of wisdom.

    Like 1
  11. Jay


    61 Tempest/Special/f85


    Cool cars

    Like 1
  12. hatofpork

    Nice Studie-perfect color! I’m seeing a chestnut leather interior with a dark khaki canvas top, and possibly Torque-Thrusts or even Borrani-type wheels to give it a taste of worn-in elegance. Then off to Marblehead Yacht club to flip it for stupid money. (actually, I don’t know if I could part with it if it were mine and so dressed-then again, I haven’t the wherewithal to make this vision come true anyway).

    Like 0
  13. WayneC Member

    I have repaired many Studebakers with the supposed rear main leak. I have found that it usually is a leak from above, oil pressure switch or line, leaky valve covers or pan gasket. I don’t think that out of the last 20 or so when I had my Studebaker shop, that I ended up replacing 2. Biggest problem especially if the pan had been off previously, was that people cut the end pan gaskets for an easier install, and the gasket shrunk enough that there was a 1/4 in gap and oil ran everywhere.
    It sure would look like a leaky main seal.

    Like 0
  14. Vince

    Color was only available on the convertible and Hawk. It is Tahatian Coral.

    Like 0
  15. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one ended at $6,060 and no sale.

    Like 0

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