Open Top Wagon: 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire

1963 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire

So what’s better than a Studebaker Wagon? How about one with a V8, three speed manual, A/C, and a retractable roof? If you’ve been on the hunt for a station wagon that checks off all these boxes, than this 1963 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire might just be the one for you. The seller claims it’s original and that it even runs and drives. It is going to need work, but we think it will be a worthwhile and fun project. Be sure to check it out here on eBay out of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.

Lark Wagonaire sliding roof

The retractable roof on this Lark adds a lot of character and makes it really standout in a crowd of boring grocery haulers. Sadly the driver doesn’t get to enjoy all that sun and fresh air. It was more for function than fun, making it possible to hual around tall items such as refrigerators. The idea might have been novel, but it could also prove problematic. If the seals or drip tubes didn’t do their jobs, than every time it rained anything in the back of the car would get wet. Not only was it an inconvenience, it also means many of these wagons suffer from rust issues. The area around the tailgate here looks solid, but we would want to inspect the floors, spare tire well, and the drip tubes for rust.

Studebaker Lark 259 V8

The Wagonaire could be had as a sedate family hauler or something more sinister. Engine options ranged from an inline six all the way up to a supercharged V8. This one has the midrange 259 V8, which offered a respectable 200 hp and 260 lbs. of torque. Obviously it would be more fun with the 289 R2, but for a wagon it should prove to be more than enough. The engine bay is looking rough, but the seller claims the motor runs great. They do however admit the A/C system currently isn’t working. We would want to get it fixed, but the sliding roof should help with ventilation until it’s up and running.

Studebaker Lark Wagon Interior

The story of the Wagonaire is an interesting one. As was the history of Studebaker, financial challenges facilitated innovation. The lack of capital required making the most of existing tooling, so rather than completely redesigning the Lark it was updated by Brooks Stevens. In an attempt to bring in new customers, Stevens did everything he could to make sure the Wagonaire was innovative and unique. He not only added the sliding roof section, but he smoothed out the lines, made the windows taller, and added several unique interior features. Speaking of the interior, this one has seen better days, but looks complete. The dash has some cracking and holes in it, but it is intact.

Lark Wagonaire

While Stevens did his best to make the Lark more appealing, it was too little too late. Studebaker didn’t build many of these before ending production. Subsequently, finding parts for this could be a challenge. Hopefully most of the sheet metal is solid and not too rusty. We are even tempted to get this for ourselves. It would be a great mix of practicality, sportiness, and uniqueness. You’d be hard pressed to find another wagon that is this cool. Go ahead, try to name another wagon that has a sliding roof, a V8, and this much character!

WANT ADS

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Comments

  1. stanley stalvey

    I’ve seen a few of these old Studes with a small-block Chevy engine that looked original. Did the factory ever use them.? I don’t know for sure..

    • Josh Staff

      Well Stanley, that’s a good question! As Studebaker ran out of funds, they had to close their factory here in the States and moved all production to their Canadian factory. They used what remaining motors they had in stock and once those had run out they worked out a deal with GM. I’m not sure if the Larks ever used the Chevy engines for sure, but I would assume that some of the last to be produced did. If anyone here knows for sure and has any idea just how many came with the Chevy engines, let us know!

      • stanley stalvey

        Very good. I would take the Chevy engine any day. It was probably a 283 that I saw before in a Studebaker.. It was a factory install..

  2. That Guy

    Yes, the final Canadian-built Larks used Chevrolet engines. There were enough Studebaker engines left after the South Bend factory closed in late 1963 to finish out the 1964 model year, but 1965 and 1966 Larks had 6- or 8-cylinder Chevrolet engines from new.

  3. jim s

    if the reserve is not too high this would make a fun project. make it a daily driver and enyoy, only question is what it would take to service the sliding roof, if needed. nice find

    • Brian

      The sliding roofs typically didn’t require too much service, but you can unbolt them and drop the roof panel out if needed. You can probably guess that its pretty tough to get them to stop leaking. Better not park downhill, nose first, during a rain! The drains for the roof emptied at the lower part of the rear fenders, behind the wheels. Bet you can guess what happens when these areas get clogged with debris?

  4. Dolphin Member

    Other than a Woody or a Nomad/Safari, this would be my choice for a cool vintage wagon, especially since it’s Canadian assembled with the 283 Chevy, 3-speed, and even a sunroof.

    But…….it’s from the dreaded rust belt and will probably take a lot of work on the body before you even get to the drivetrain and the interior. It might sell for cheap, but I would rather pay more for one that had lived in the sunny South or West.

    You know you’ve done a poor job with your ad when a BF entry has way more information on your car that you do. If anyone checks it out it would be interesting to know what the underside looks like—horror show, or OK?

    • Brian

      The good news is that almost all of the body panels, except the front fenders and the tailgate, are still obtainable; it just takes money…

  5. Glenn

    Sad to say, this appears to be the very same vehicle you featured back on Sept. 17, 2011 … only in three years’ worth worse shape. Somebody needs to save this one !!

  6. Alan (Michigan)

    “Hopefully most of the sheet metal is solid and not too rusty.”

    Good luck with that…. I’d be betting on about 10# of bondo in that body. And the underside is not pictured for a reason. Looking at the single engine compartment photo is enough to convince me that there could be some serious corrosion going on in this car.

  7. Rancho Bella

    And not one mention from you guys about Mr.Ed………………
    Shameful

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Willlburrrr!

  8. conservativesdefeated

    Neighhhhhhhhhhh

  9. chad

    Wuz Mr. Ed’s owner’s (Wilber) sage name Brooks Stevens?
    /OR/
    Wilber Stevens?sompin like dat…

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