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Rare Drop Top: 1960 Studebaker Lark Convertible

The front cover of the 1960 Studebaker Lark sales booklet is a curious one. The atmospheric nighttime photo shows a well-to-do couple (he’s in a tux, she’s in a flowing red evening dress) casually leaning against a Jonquil Yellow Lark convertible with the top down. The photo seems to be suggesting that this image was set outside of a country club entrance or other high-society event. The dashing, dark-haired man (though soft focused, he’s a cross between Don Draper and Sean Connery) appears to be whispering something into the Sophia Loren lookalike’s ear. Maybe he’s saying “Can you believe this? We’re not the target audience that the 1960 Studebaker Lark is going to attract at all.” And he was right. I’m guessing you didn’t see very many ’60 Studebaker Lark drop tops at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port or at formal galas in our nation’s capital. I’ve never seen one in person or at a car show because not many Lark convertibles were bought (the seller says you’re looking at 1 of 1,500). But, you can’t totally fault the Studebaker Marketing Department for trying. The Lark convertible was new for 1960 and the first soft-top Studebaker had offered since 1953. This well-preserved example with its original interior and only 93,000 miles on the clock is currently located in Morro Bay, California, and is for sale here on craigslist with an asking price of $18,500. The seller, Jeff, is also open to a best offer. Another shout out to numskal for sending this rare little Lark our way.

When the Lark was developed, the Studebaker-Packard Corporation had been losing money for several years and decided to abandon the big car market and roll the dice on a new, not-so-flashy, unfinned compact car. The gamble paid off and the new ’59 Lark sold well (131,075) and helped Studebaker turn a profit. Sales dipped a bit in 1960 (122,186), but it was still a successful sales year. Like I said earlier, a “sporty” convertible wasn’t on the radar for most Lark buyers who were looking for practical, inexpensive, reliable transportation that could seat five or six. Their body styles of choice favored 2-door and 4-door sedans and station wagons. Jeff doesn’t give us any history or if it’s been a California car all of its life, but does say that the Lark is rust-free and has always been garaged. The white paint doesn’t appear to be too shiny, but is presentable and the chrome bumpers, trim, glass, badging, and lenses all look good. The photos show a black vinyl snap-on convertible top boot, but there are no photos showing the convertible top up, so it’s hard to assess its condition or what color it is.

The original black and white pleated vinyl interior looks impressive for a 63-year-old convertible. It does have a dash pad which could be hiding imperfections on the Lark’s padded dash, but everything else seems remarkably well preserved (although it looks like it could use a cleaning). The seller says the power top, AM radio, and everything works on the Lark. Studebaker’s sales literature claimed that their ’60 Lark convertible could seat five luxuriously and promised “ARISTOCRATIC ELEGANCE allied with practicality.” Oh, those ad guys and gals of the 1960’s.

The Lark is powered by a 170-cubic inch L-Head six-cylinder engine that could generate 90 horsepower at 4000 rpm when new. The seller says there are only 93,000 miles on it and that it “drives and brakes excellent.” The six is paired with a Flightomatic automatic transmission. Like this convertible, the Lark had its day in the sun for a few years until the Big Three answered with compact cars of their own and the writing was on the wall as they say. Sadly, the last year for Studebaker production models was 1966. Given its great exterior, original interior, and the original engine with only 93k on it, could this be the nicest “semi-original survivor” 1960 Lark convertible out there? Happy Bidding!


  1. HadTwo

    Gosh 1960! Lots of new cars and convertibles to choose from.
    This Lark sports a 170-cubic inch L-Head six-cylinder engine.
    Don’t see many of these around. Amazing this one survived.

    Like 8
    • BigDaddyBonz

      Always have had a soft spot for the orphans (Studebaker in particular). With the other manufacturers adding some style to their 1960s line ups, this looks kind of plain. Cool though. Already have a toy so the wife would be really really upset if I brought home another. Gonna pass but best wishes to new owner.

      Like 8
  2. Denny N. Member

    I lost interest when I saw the flathead Six.

    Like 5
  3. HadTwo

    Didn’t Wilbur “own” one of these and was seen
    driving it on Mr. Ed shows.

    Like 10
  4. JohnfromSC

    A virtually flawless one sold today on BaT for $20K. I think in this condition, $15K might be a very fair if not optimistic price.

    Like 6
    • KevinS Member

      The one on BAT was a ’63. My personal pref is the 60.

      Like 0
  5. Anthony Gaby

    Yes advertised a 1962 on “Mr.Ed”…as well as had a ’62 on the show..I have a ’62 four door.

    Like 7
  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    I remember a lark plastic model kit I had that was molded in Red.
    I think I got it from a mail in offer from a cereal box.I remember thinking
    that it was just like Wilbur’s.

    Like 3
  7. Irishfan

    I lived in the South Bend area in the sixties. Studebaker had to complete with the Ford Falcon in 1960, but not a Falcon convertible until 63. That made it tough on Studebaker, but not in South Bend. Many SB employers strongly encouraged there employees to buy Studebaker when purchasing new cars. Studebakers were actually good cars. It is surprising that in all my years living in the area I can’t remember seeing a Lark convertible on the road or parked in a driveway or lot. I am thinking the price on this is a good price and if I were younger and a collector I would bid on this car.

    Like 5
  8. Fritz

    You could smoke Lark cigarettes as you drove to the farm to see Mr. Ed, then switch to the Champ pickup – which looked just like a Lark – to get him a bale of hay. Those were the days.

    Like 5
  9. HoA Howard A Member

    Finally, some vintage TV watchers besides me. It’s entirely possible, some folks may not have heard of “Mr. Ed”( that was actually a Ms. Ed, so no tallywacker on the show) and was I feel Studebakers moment in the sun, much like Adam-12 for AMC. TV was THE most powerful form of advertising, and Studebakers sales increased,,,some, from the show. I don’t recall Wiiiiiilber driving a convertible, he drove a blue 2 door Skytop, and his neighbors, the Addisons drove an Avanti, the 1st time many saw the car.
    Again, like AMC, a regional make. The only reason this is even here, is someone in California liked them, and the ragtop was essential. One didn’t see many 4 door Larks outside of the Hoosier, again, like AMC, their loss. Studebakers were great cars, and the great folks of S.Bend, unlike Kenosha, haven’t forgot that, with a museum that is a must see. An upgrade in power is next as the flattie, while a carryover from the war, and did an honorable job then, more power is needed. Just don’t go nuts, as is the usual practice today, and what, no 4 speed????

    Like 3
    • Anthony Gaby

      Still watching the ol school TV..better than what is put out now..I was fortunate enough to buy a ’62 Lark 4 door from a retired Navy Chief in 1999…with a 170 OHV six, 3 SPD OD column shift..Had one in 1976 as first car..in South Bend, In. (purchased that one for $125 with 27,000 on clock)..I still have my ’62 thought I purchased in 1999..but now has a Stude 259 2bbl..and changed rear gear ratio from 4:10 to 3:54 Dana 27…Lowered and skirted.. sporting ol school “scallops” (not flames)..Drove it back home in 2000 from San Diego to South Bend..Damn good runner!

      Like 1
    • Gerald Edgar

      Disagree reL regional. There were several active Studie dealer across the country. Consider too it was THE oldest auto maker in existence at the time pre-dating Ford, Chrysler, GM & its constituent brands & AMC. Went
      back to horse & buddy days when it was THE largest mft of horse-drawn wagons.

      Like 3
  10. Vincent Habel

    1952 was the last year for a convertible until this. With a 6 and a automatic this qould have trouble getting out of it’s own way.

    Like 2
  11. Rick B

    If the black Cali plates are original to this car, then one can probably safely surmise that its been in California for at least 60 of the 63 or so years it’s been around . I suspect that it’s been in California all its life.

    Like 1

    Mr. Ed was sponsored by Studebaker.

    Like 1
  13. Azzura Member

    The one word that comes to mind when I view this car is “simple”.

    Like 2
  14. Jeff Kendall

    I loved my gray ’62 regal convertible, 259 standard !!! on Cape Cod, did in fact take it to Squaw Island to pick up my date !!!

    Like 0
  15. charlie Member

    College friend had one, bought new, with V8 and A/C, from Texas, took someone going over the head of the person at the factory that booked special orders to have it with A/C, no reason not to, mechanically, but “never heard of such a thing” was the underling’s response. Very useful in Texas where, in the summer, it was too hot to have the top down and any closed car got A/C. Was a great car, easy to park, drove well, fit and finish were good.

    Like 3
  16. Salvatore Pusatere

    The lark flat head 6 was a great car with an overdrive transmission, With an automatic it was bailey adequate and lacked omph to climb hills. I had one of the above and also an 8 cylinder259 with automatic. Peppy but not the screamer the 289 with overdrive was, I never acquired one of those. The full deluxe ordered vinyl interiors were gorgeous.

    Like 0
  17. Jim Trook

    We had a ’60 Lark convt. bought in ’62. It was yellow w/white top & tan upholstery as I recall. Bought in Maine & drove it back to Nebr. pulling a small trailer with no problems. It was a 259c.i. V-8 w/O/D. I did not have it very long, but it was a great little car.

    Like 0

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