Estate V8: 1961 Studebaker Lark Deluxe VIII

The seller of this 1961 Studebaker Lark Deluxe VIII got it from the estate of the original owner. It sure looks like a winner if a person can get past the two extra doors, as they say in 2018. This South Bend beauty can be found here on Craigslist in, believe it or not, South Bend, Indiana where it was born. The seller is asking $7,800, just over Hagerty’s #2 excellent condition value. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this lovely Lark tip!

This car appears to be in great condition and with only 34,865 miles, it should be. There is no rust-through or bondo at all and it is all original, according to the seller who apparently got it from the estate of the original owner. I wonder if this beauty has ever left its hometown of South Bend? It has California historic plates, so I guess it has been. It’s cool that it ended up back in South Bend, Indiana, home of Studebaker. The base model Deluxe had a single headlight on each side as opposed to the Regal and Cruiser trim cars which had quad headlights. Quad headlights were an option on the Deluxe as was power steering.

The 1961 Lark would be the last of the first-generation cars before Brooks Stevens redesigned the 1962 and 1963 Larks. There’s something refreshing about a simple design like the first-generation cars, in my opinion. If you’re going to get a simple car, why not get the most simple trim level like this Deluxe? The white walls are even fancy for this one.

The interior shines as much as the exterior does on this Lark. This is a Deluxe model which was below both the Regal and Cruiser trim levels but it looks clean and crisp. The seats look as close to being new as possible both front and rear. One thing you may have noticed in the photo of the rear seat is that the original rubber flooring back there is cracked. That shouldn’t be hard to fix and if that’s the only problem with this car then you’re doing pretty well. Another option on this Deluxe model is an automatic transmission.

Being a Lark VIII as opposed to a VI, this one has a V8, which was yet another option. This engine is Studebaker’s 259 cubic-inch V8 with a notch below 200 hp. It was a nice upgrade from the OHV inline-six. The seller says that this car runs and drives very well. The engine compartment lets down the overall appearance of this Lark, I would want to detail the heck out of that beautiful little V8 or at least pay someone a couple of hundred bucks to do that and then take photos. It would increase the value or at least shouldn’t be a money-loser to do that. Online sales are mostly based on the photos so make sure that your vehicle looks the best that it can look, especially if you’re asking above book value. Speaking of value, they have this Lark priced at $300 over Hagerty’s #2 excellent condition value and I’m not sure if it’s there yet. After fixing the rubber flooring in the rear and detailing the engine and engine compartment it may be close. Are there any ’61 Studebaker Lark fans out there?

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Comments

  1. Keith

    Nice car!

    Like 4
  2. Gay Car Nut

    I agree. I’ve always loved the 1959-61 Studebaker Lark. I used to know someone who had one like this. I believe his was a 1960.

    Like 2
  3. Gay Car Nut

    I agree. I’ve always loved the 1959-61 Studebaker Lark. I used to know someone who had one like this. I believe his was a 1960. I believe his was also an oxidized blue.

  4. Wayne from Oz

    The only reson I could possibly imagine why people would buy 2 door family car, is that they couldn’t afford a 4 door sedan. Nomads exempt. Here in Australia almost everyone bought 4 doors.

    Like 6
    • ken TILLY Member

      South Africa as well.

      Like 3
    • Gay Car Nut

      I agree. I’d much prefer a four door sedan or a station sedan (wagon).

      Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      People bought family 2 doors, so their kids wouldn’t fall out of the back doors. Don’t laugh, I knew someone that opened a back door and fell out. I almost did once.

      Like 3
      • Gay Car Nut

        That’s a good reason to go for a 2 door. For safety reasons.

      • Jett

        “Natural selection”…

        Like 1
  5. Dan D

    What a great little car, although I wish it was a 3-speed instead of the automatic. But great lines and I love the color.

    Like 2
  6. Gay Car Nut

    I agree. I’ve always preferred the 1959-61 Studebaker Lark over the 62-63 Studebaker.

    Like 2
  7. Will Fox

    Considering this one is original and not restored, I seriously doubt you will find another `59-`61 model of ANY trim level this nice; especially for $7800.! This would make an EXCELLENT first collector-car for the right person. It doesn’t need a lot, no rust to speak of, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the only one for quite some distance in any direction at car shows! PLUS…the Studebaker Driver’s Club is a fantastic group of enthusiasts that are a treasure trove of information & sources for parts. They are sincerely dedicated to the marque, and very knowledgeable.

    Like 4
  8. Hotroddaddy

    Love those Larks even though it has two doors to many. To bad the engine isin’t an R-1.

  9. Dirty Dingus McGee

    “This engine is Studebaker’s 259 cubic-inch V8 with a notch below 200 hp”

    180 hp if it’s a 2 barrel carb, 195 if it’s a 4 barrel.

    @Hotroddaddy
    R1(base 289 Avanti engine) and R2(supercharged 289) were available starting in 63. This 259 with the 4 barrel was as good as it got in 61 for a Lark.

    Like 1
  10. WayneC Member

    I have some doubts about this Lark. If you look at the right inner fender, it appears to be a different color than the fireeall, then if you look at the left side, it appears to be covered in a light rust. Look at the upper tank on the radiator, then at the upper fan guard is also rust. It does not match the outside of the car at all, so I am left a little curious.

    To reply to Wayne from OZ, when my Dad bought our 60 Lark , new, the 4 door was cheaper than the 2 door by just a few dollars. My Father wouldn’t spend a dime more than he had to, so it came with no options except a heater. Same way when he bought our 62 Lark, except he specified a V-8, but he did buy a 2 door after my sister almost fell out after pulling the door handle. When I bought my 66 Commander, I ordered almost every option I could. I just wish I could have ordered it with the Studebaker V-8 instead of the Chev 283. A lot of valve problems and lousy gas mileage.

  11. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    It’s a Studebaker – what’s not to like an over 108 year old brand ?

    Like 1
  12. Daniel G Rawinsky

    This is a nice looking car, until you look closely at the left rear door which is way out of alignment with the rear fender, the ever narrowing trunk lid gap (image 6) which almost disappears above the tail light. The gap on the door, looks like right front,(image 18) is wide extreme, but at least the seller did not omit the bad and was willing to show it. The rear floor mats look destroyed, and this makes me wonder how they got into such bad shape when the rest of the car looks as good as it does. I think this car has had a repaint.
    Studebaker and Mercedes Benz joined forces in 1957. Studebaker shut down in the early 1960’s. During the time this car was being designed Studebaker tried to make it look similar to the MB. Up until the mid 1950’s MB used the tail lamp that is found on the 190SL on all of the sedans. Then MB started the mini fin on the sedans and changed the tail lamps shape. The Studebaker Lark tried to imitate the MB 190-220 series. The shape of the Studebaker did resemble the MB in looks but not in quality. Not that MB was all that long lasting, they were not, but the assembly of the cars was excellent. I learned all about this while I worked at MBNA from 1970-1972. My office mate, Carl Kaufman, had worked at Studebaker as a parts specifier. I was hired to work with MBNA, Frigiking and Thermoking. Mostly I assemble parts manuals for new dealers. MB vehicles did not have A/C from the factory. A/C units were installed at the port.

    My father bought a 1959 190SL with 23,000 miles from a widow who did not know how to drive manual shift. I bought it from him in 1967 for $400.00. I sold it in 1972 for $200.00. I was so happy to get rid of that rust bucket piece of junk that I don’t even mind seeing them up for sale between $70,000.00 and $140,000.00. I know how those 190SL’s were nothing but trouble from the PHH44 carbs, nobody puts the brace that holds the intake ram up and so the carbs are always falling down resulting in a vacuum leak. I just looked on ebay and found a pair of PHH 44 carbs, one set was $3,500.00 the other $3900.00. And they looked like they were on the Titanic. The heater cables were forever rusted shut, or open.

    The Lark is probably a better deal than an MB

  13. Brian DeFrancesco

    Quite nice, and the V8 is a definite plus. While it looks well preserved, Hagerty–as usual–is off the mark in valuation in my opinion. $6k is all a four-door Lark at the lowest trim level is worth, even with the V8 and no rust. Check out my ol’ little 60 Lark four-door!

    Like 1
  14. Howard A Member

    What a wonderful car, the Lark was. Didn’t have a chance. We, in Wisconsin, had our hands full trying to keep our own independent car maker afloat, there was no room for Studebakers, and visa-versa, I’m sure. People that bought them were happy with them, they were good cars, but in GM, Ford, Chrysler-ville,( then AMC) Studebaker was dead last. Studebakers had electric wipers, disc brakes, and a host of options( not on this car) that many others didn’t have. Mr. Ed would certainly approve.

    Like 1
  15. Jud

    Post has been deleted by it’s author. Either sold it or read some of these comments and realized that the bluff had been called. Still, it’s a Studebaker, and probably worth the money and effort.

  16. Bill Pressler

    I sure as heck can’t see any “bluff” that’s being called. Absolutely correct ’61 color, correct ’61 silver wheels, correct ’61 interior, “Lark VIII” nameplates in perfect position (when new fenders are installed these are usually left off). Fit and finish just wasn’t that great as far as door gaps, etc., at the time–of course.

    I like ’64’s, then ’63’s, better (and I own a ’66 with 26.6K miles), but I think this appears to be a legitimate low-mileage car.

    • Jud

      A personal inspection would answer any and all questions. As a former body shop owner, with over 25 years in the trade, I can honestly tell you that there would be no missing emblems when the car left my shop. And as a former Studebaker owner (61 Hawk, 58 Scotsman, ’56 Commander Wagon) I can vouch for the fit and finish of Studes in general. It simply seemed a bit coincidental that the add was pulled so shortly after Barn Finds brought it to light. Would really like to have a Lark in my driveway, but I would prefer to have a Super Lark. Meant no harm.

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