Camping Wagon: 1960 Studebaker Lark


Barn Finds reader Marc from Santa Fe sent in this neat old wagon that’s looking for a new owner. It’s advertised here on craigslist in San Clemente, California for $6,000. The seller says this is the ultimate beach or camping wagon, and while I might not quite agree on those counts, it is a pretty cool looking ride. With new tires and a rebuilt water pump, some immediate needs have been taken care of, but the seller tells us it has low compression in two cylinders – even though it starts and runs well. Although it’s a manual transmission, it’s also equipped with overdrive (the seller calls it “automatic”; maybe a knowledgeable reader can fill us in on what that means?), a necker knob, a Gumby on the steering column, and unfortunately some of that optional delayed lightening program, i.e. rust. So what do you think? Is this wagon worthy?


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  1. jim s

    if you want a neckers knob, but not this car, there are 75 for sale listings on ebay. this needs a very good PI then make the seller an offer.

  2. JW454

    Cool yes. 6K no.

    I also think people throw the “Ultimate” word around a bit haphazardly. My idea of a ultimate camping vehicle has a bit more amenities included than this scout troupe hauler has.

  3. Matt Tritt

    Different cars mean different things to different people. I really like the early Larks and this one looks good to me! On the other hand, “automatic overdrive” seems like the owner just isn’t familiar with how overdrives work; they’re basically ALL automatic in the sense that they work automatically. ;-) At one time I had a 54 Stude with OD (and the 289 V8) that would easily tool along the freeway at 95 and get > 20 MPG at safer speeds. It was a lot more aerodynamically shaped. Low compression on 2 cylinders means a valve job (at least) or complete rebuild (probably).

    • dennis

      When overdrive is selected, it is locked out until some speed (30 mph or so). After that, if you are in 3rd and back off the throttle, overdrive will engage.

      • Matt Tritt

        It should also work in second, since the OD works on the output shaft. 2d gear OD is the perfect mountain gear.

  4. 1969Deuce

    I learned to drive on the family 1959 Lark, 2 door, black, 6 cyl, stick. It was a very nice driving and reliable car. I’ve had an ebay search running for one and I’m surprised at the prices Larks in general are posted for. This one seems on the lower side. Don’t think it’s for me, though.

  5. Jeff DeWitt

    The overdrive IS automatic, in either second or third gear you let off on the gas and you’ll feel the transmission shift automatically.

    That’s as opposed to overdrive like on my Jeep, 5th gear is an overdrive, but you shift into it just as you shift into any other gear.

    Those are great little wagons, I’d love to have one.

  6. gunningbar

    Im visiting in CA and the survivors are amazing.. little or no rust.. I like wagons and goofy ones even more… a P I and an offer……

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