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Chevy V8: 1965 Studebaker Cruiser

By the time the 1965 Studebaker models went on sale, their South Bend, Indiana plant had closed, and all production transferred to Hamilton, Ontario. And with it went Studebaker’s source of engines, so the 1965-66 models were powered by Chevrolet engines. This 1965 Cruiser, one of less than 3,700 made for that year, went into hibernation in 1978 and still wears its 42-year-old license plates. It was purchased in 2018 from the then 90-year-old owner with hopes of doing a restoration. Plans for that have not since materialized, so it’s ready to move to a new home from Renton, Washington. It’s available here on eBay were the auction sits at $1,111 with no reserve.

The third generation (1964-66) of Studebaker’s bread-and-butter cars would be the last for the long-struggling independent auto manufacturer. The former Larks received an extensive (and yet inexpensive) makeover and new names emerged with the Cruiser being the top-of-line model. After Studebaker suspended all U.S. production, the Canadian plant took over duties in the middle of the 1964 model year. The 1965 models were little changed from the prior year and Studebaker referred to them as “the common-sense car.” If you bought a ’65 Cruiser with a V8, you got it with a Chevy 283 cubic inch motor good for 195 hp.

1967 is the year where the story begins for the seller’s car. It was purchased then by a gentleman who drove it for 11 years before parking it in a garage. It’s thought to have had 58,000 miles on it at that point. The seller acquired it from that owner two years ago with the goal of a grandfather/grandson project, but the latter was ultimately not interested in the exercise. So, it’s time for the car — which has not seen rain since 1978 – to move on. As there were only about 2,900 V8 equipped Cruisers made that year, it puts this car into limited production territory.

Somehow, the seller believes this car has managed to escape any apparent rust issues over time. He also thinks the car is complete. The passenger cabin of the Cruiser generally looks good, with some small separations in the front seat and one little crack in the dashboard. The carpet is okay, but the passing of five decades suggests a replacement is needed.

The main problem with the car is the motor, which the seller says is stuck. Rather than repair the 283, the seller acquired a Chevy 307 V8 from 1968 to drop in its place, but that hasn’t happened. That engine appears to have been rebuilt and would bolt on very easily. If bidding on the car goes past $1,200, that engine will go with the deal; otherwise, it’s a separate purchase. Also ready for the buyer is an Edelbrock “Streetmaster” 4-barrel carb with intake manifold that goes with the replacement engine.  The gears are shifted by way of a three-on-the-tree with overdrive.

Cars like this are a part of automotive history and dwindle in supply each year. In running condition, a ’65 Studebaker Cruiser in this car’s general condition might go for $15-20,000. If a simple engine transplant solves 80% of this car’s problems, this could be a sweet buy if lurking bidders don’t run it up toward the end of the auction.


  1. alphasud Member

    I like it. Always thought these looked nice. Will be curious to see what this brings.

    Like 2
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    A nice looking car overall, though I’m sure the fact that it’s a four door will keep it from selling for big money. I’d be inclined to rebuild the original motor to keep the car original, add A/C and use it as a daily driver. The 283 should deliver reasonable performance and economy and three-on-the-tree will generate a lot of comments from the under-40 crowd.

    Like 5
  3. Howard A Member

    This,,,is terrible. The car, that by all rights, should have saved Studebaker, AND NOBODY WANTS IT???? CHEVY MOTOR? Come on,,,sorry, folks, I’m a little upset today, I read, the NHRA is suing Coca-Cola for pulling out of drag racing ahead of their 2023 contract, anyway, chew on that drag racing fans, which has little if anything to do with this great car.
    We saw very few Studebakers in Ramblertown, even though, we sort of had a kindred spirit with South Bend. They were in the same boat as we were, fighting the Big 3. Guess it shows what people think today, here’s a car, history up the ying-yang, that was almost the end of one of the greatest car, truck and buggy makers of all time, and falling on deaf ears. People just have no connection with Studebaker today, and someone, who probably knows nothing of the make, will find out, what great cars they really were.

    Like 12
  4. George

    I want the wagonaire in the background

    Like 3
  5. Leland

    What a great part of my memories. Hope it goes to a good home with someone who understands and appreciates it.

    Like 1
  6. Bob C.

    Didn’t Studebaker still use “their” signature yellow valve covers on the Chevy engines?

    Like 2
    • Vince H

      Early 65 had yellow but they switched to black. My 65 had black covers.

      Like 3
  7. Darwin

    I am 71 and remeber harvesting in Saskatchewan listening to the transistor radio hearing. “Get Studbaker the common sense car, the style that never grows old. Get Studbaker the common sense car once around the block and its sold”. Good times.

  8. SourPwr Member

    Please explain to me the ‘three on the tree with overdrive”. Is overdrive a leg off the H pattern on the tree or something else. Thanks

    Like 1
    • Poppy

      No, a separate Borg Warner unit behind the tranny that could be engaged by the driver.

      Like 2
    • Ed P

      I remember from a 60 Ford owners manual, a button on the dash was moved. When the driver lifted off the gas o/d would engage.

      Like 1
  9. Jim

    I’d repair the 283. It will be worth it to have the original size motor and not some swap-out. With the price it’s going for, someone who knows what they’re doing with restorations will have a real bargain. (Wonder where they’ll find the rear view mirror, though. That could be tough.)

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      Mirror has been repoed.

      Like 2
  10. wayneC Member

    Damn, I wish it wasn’t so far away, as it would be mine. I have a 66 Cruiser that I had in storage and some kids that didn’t know better and thought my Cruiser would look better with all of the glass broken with cement blocks and then the gauge clusters broken out as well. One thing they at least didn’t do was destroy the engine by putting dirt and grass down the carburetor like they did in my 63 Cruiser. I had the intake off modifying it to accept an AFB carb. Kids have no idea what it costs to rebuild and modify a Studebaker V-8. If I had been caught doing this when I was a kid, I would be the recipient of a hard whipping.

    Like 1
  11. Jost

    Shame, Studebaker were great cars. Hopefully someone will restore and put back the Studebaker engine, which were among the best made. I’ve a,ways wanted a lark wagon with the partial retractable roof in the rear so you could put large height items in it. These were good cars

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      I agree the Studebaker engine was one of the best but this car never had one. The 283 is correct for this car.

    • Vince H

      This engine is original to the car. The 289 was last made for 64.

      Like 1
  12. gaspumpchas

    Pull that 283, rebuild, put some 60’s goodies , maybe a hot cam and some duals and voila, you have a sleeper. Nothing runs like a 283. Would be a super cruiser. Stay safe and good luck.

    Like 2
  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice and kinda rare with the 3sp overdrive behind the Chevy V/8 – just don’t see that…also radio delete…….I need that dash cover !

  14. Vince H

    Radio was a option not a delete in a Studebaker.

    Like 1
  15. Paul L Windish

    Body looks to be in great shape. I’d agree with previous comments to work on the 283 to keep it original. It’s be a good buy for the many Studebaker fans still out there.

    Like 1

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