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Stored For Decades: 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire

My brain is really good at housing mostly useless information but is less good at retaining all of it. One such useless piece that I continually fail to retain is that American independent automakers (other than AMC) still produced cars into the 1960s. At the risk of torment, I’ll share that Studebaker is definitely on my 1960s forgotten list, but I treasure reminders of their 1960s existence like the one brought about by this 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire. I found it here on eBay in North Chesterfield, Virginia for $19,800 with the option to make an offer. The selling dealer, Davis Auto Sales, also has it listed here on their website.

The Wagonaire was a novel concept, serving primarily as a family hauler but with the capability of hauling a somewhat oversized — i.e. tall — load, thanks to its sliding cargo area roof. Buyers did not, however, flock to this concept as Studebaker built only 19,585 of them over 4 model years.

Studebaker made a pretty plain-looking station wagon in the Wagonaire, but this example is relatively clean. The seller describes it as a “very intact car” that is showing some signs of rust bubbling, mostly around the rear bumper and tailgate. The white paint is presentable and the brightwork appears to be in good shape. The sliding roof does work. If you’re picking nits on the exterior condition, it’s come a long way since being pulled from its decades-long hibernation.

The red cloth and vinyl interior looks clean. The front bench seat shows minimal wear and the back seat follows suit. There aren’t any visible cacks in the dash and the door panels have held up well over the past 60 years. The seller states the “rear window rolls up and down properly, roof slides forward and backward as it should, even has the original spare tire and jack in the stowaway area” and describes the under-dash air-conditioning as “extremely rare.”

Seeing that this “ran when parked” but later reading that it was “stored 20+ years” may slightly raise your hopes before mostly dashing them. In this case, you can remain cautiously optimistic as the seller says after installing a new battery and giving it some fresh fuel, this Studebaker “does start and run and moves down the road.” The seller tells us it’s a V8 but fails to mention the displacement. Power is sent to the rear wheels by a column-shifted automatic transmission. The selling dealer suggests it may need some mechanical repairs, but tells us it “overall runs pretty darn good for what it is.”

Overall this looks like a decent little station wagon. It’s in pretty good condition — which I’d consider a plus for any late-build American independent manufactured car — and is unique without being oddly so. Wagonaire prices seem to be all over the price, so if you have a strong command of the market, please weigh in on what you think about the asking price on this one.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Terrry

    That engine is almost certainly a Studebaker 289, and the front seats have been re-covered, because that velour-like cloth was not available on those cars. Also check out the dash. Almost without exception, Studebakers of the early 50s on had very nice dashes. You have to watch for leaks on the Wagonaire because in time they tended to let water in around the sliding roof.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo nlpnt

      I was going to say, cloth seats in a Wagonaire is some true wide-eyed optimism!

      As is well known by now, GM reused this concept in the early ’00s on the GMC Envoy XUV. It was also a flop.

      There was at least one year where all Studebaker wagons were sliding-roof Wagonaires, and for a couple the normal wagon was called a “fixed-roof Wagonaire”.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo DON

      If you look at the sellers website photos, the sliding roofs headliner seems to have a lot of water stains , so it seems this car is or was suffering from those leaks

      Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Always partial to the independents, and this car was the “Ambassador” of Studebaker wagons, although Stude fans may not like that. Again, with all these obscure makes, only the most unusual examples exist, the sliding roof was the cheese. While I read Studebaker began offering A/C in 1955, most cars did not have A/C, and this was more than likely an add-on unit. Nothing rare about it. The sliding roof was more than problematic, leaks and jammed in the channels were common, and most, I bet, were never used. I read, these were pricey, at almost $3grand, almost $700 more than a Ford or Chevy, no doubt it’s downfall. Great find.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      Howard,

      The Studebaker A/C unit was similar in basic design to the other factory installed underdash units [like early Mustangs, Chevy Novas, etc], in that it was the same system if ordered from the factory already installed, or installed by the dealer. the only way to know if it left the South Bend factory with A/C is to order a copy of the original build sheet from the Studebaker museum, and A/C will show up on the build sheet if it was ordered that way.

      Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Big Bear 🇺🇸

    The reason I love Barn Finds it brings back fond memories of my past. Like this cool little wagon. My parents friend had one in mint green. I also remember my father checking out that sliding rear roof. That was really cool back then. This here is really nice. As for the interior I think it could have been dealer installed like the AC was also. That seat cover looks real nice. I saw on the dealer site it had 43,000 + miles on it. The price is close but I think $15,000 is better. I also noticed on the sliding rear roof water stains on the inside roof. If the slider worked then the dealer should have of a picture of it. Being a V8 289 would be nice to have. I would give this a major detail and it would look fantastic. Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 6
  4. Avatar photo Bob C.

    Before I used to prefer the look to the 1964 and up models, but over time I’ve gotten to like this breed better.

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo BigDaddyBonz

    30 years ahead of it’s time with those high-mount taillights. Most everyone else had them as an extension of the main body. Funky and cool looking car. I’m sure you’d have the only one on your block.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Malcolm Boyes

    You want to sell a wagon with one unique feature..and you dont show It?? Go back to car salesman school, 101…

    Like 7
  7. Avatar photo eric22t

    ya know it’s cars like this that keep leading me off the blessed mother mopar path. that and always rooting for the underdog.

    sweet looker, cool features, i could make serious use of her after i put back to daily driver status.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Jeff

    It’s not an automatic, even the ebay ad is wrong. No shift quadrant, and clearly there is a clutch pedal hanging there in the photos!

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo GH

    These were advertised in magazines showing them hauling a refrigerator up right as well as a baby giraffe.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

    That underdash A/C is an authentic Studebaker deluxe unit. Very unusual to have a car with factory A/C, but stick shift, no overdrive, power steering or power brakes.

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo John

    This is more of a classic money pit than classic car. Any of these cars that have sat for long periods of time are going to puke every imaginable fluid as soon as you start moving it around in the seals start leaking. Also odds are there are valves or rings stuck in the motor transmission parts that didn’t move for a long time they do not command a premium price

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    How about decking one of these out with a camper?

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      I saw an ad for this very Wagonaire camper years ago, and later after I bought my 1963 Wagonaire I went looking for it again, but never did find it. I do know the camper was a special project between Studebaker and McNamee Campers [makers of King Kampers?], and they only built 1 example.

      Here’s a color photo of it, probably at a local new car show in 1963.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo PRA4SNW

        Bill, thanks for the info. I saw that picture and figured it was something that was sold back then. I guess they didn’t make enough Wagonaires to justify the production.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Does great wheelies, I bet. Another “idea” that clearly looked better on paper.

      Like 0
  13. Avatar photo tonio rocciano/ bullfrog

    MAN O MAN do I love these barn finds ..at 91 years old and a car guy I necer knew Studebaker had a wagon .. Love the comments ..Now back to my 2012 4wd silverado street rod yaaaahoooo!

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    I recall only one of these back in the 80s, a lady had a dark green with tan one. She had bought it new but by the 80s, northeast winters had taken its toll. I stopped seeing it and figured she finally got rid of it. I know of one now in white, sadly the clown that got ahold of this one has more or less rendered it junk. he had a fuel cell in the back, removed all the trim. Ofcourse why would you check the brakes? Yup, while backing up it lost them and the house’s deck stopped it. It now lies in state in the wooded corner of his place with no brakes, tailgate window 3/4s down and for reasons that baffle me the roof is open about a foot. Last I bumped into him 12k might get it away from him. He knows what he has…sad. He did offer a trade for my 58 Buick wagon, I passed. this one is gorgeous. I have been around gazillions of cars and these are few and far between and way cool.

    Like 2
  15. Avatar photo John

    Dollar for dollar I’d take this over any muscle car that had the brains beat out of it for 50 years.

    Like 0

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