This Bird Will Fly: 1959 Studebaker Lark

1959 Studebaker Lark

We only recently saw a very nice 1960 Studebaker Lark appear on Barn Finds, that was such a good deal it evidently sold right away. Here we have another Lark, this one is a first year 1959 six cylinder, also a two door, that has emerged from long time storage.

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This pretty green Lark is for sale in Salt Point, New York, advertised as a barn find here on craigslist for what appears to be a reasonable $2,500.

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But before you rush out to buy this car, please note that while there is only 40,000 miles showing on the odometer, and it looks quite clean inside and out, the engine is seized. And doubtless it will need much more work besides that to get it on the road again.

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The photos in this ad are not very good, but the car is described as solid and original, and from what little is shown, this Lark does look like it could fly again with some clean up, and engine rebuild and all the usual mechanical work a car coming out of long term storage will need.

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When I was growing up, we had a number of Studebaker Larks. They were relatively inexpensive to purchase and to operate, and were pretty peppy. I spent a lot of time dreaming up ways to turn my dad’s car into a hot rod. About ten years ago, Hot Rod magazine featured this stock looking Corvette powered Lark seen below.

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Since the motor in this car is seized, why not replace the drivetrain with a later year Stude 289, a four speed and a performance differential, and have some fun with it? As a two door base model, it is fairly light, and end up being a pretty slick street driver. Here’s another ’59 Lark done as a very sanitary looking street rod in a very similar color. I’d even think you could just buff out the paint, give the interior a good clean up and with the mechanical work done, you’d have a very sweet sleeper built for a budget price.

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Comments

  1. Chris in WNC

    ours would be very happy with the 6 rebuilt and a Borg-Warner overdrive behind the stick shift…….

  2. Bobsmyuncle

    Hmmm very interesting…

  3. RoughDiamond Member

    Looks pretty clean. A Studebaker Lark is probably one of the last cars I would ever think about modding into a modern day street rod, but the idea certainly seems pretty bitchin. Sure hope “Dave K.” does not come after me for using that word.

  4. Peanut1959

    It is a 1960 Lark, not a 1959.

  5. Bob

    The featured Lark (the green one) is a 1960 – not a ’59. Grille mesh and rear quarter mouldings are evidence of it being a ’60 model.

  6. rick

    My mom’s car when I was growing up in the 60s was a 62 Lark, if I rode in it and happened to see any of my friends from school, I would have to duck down and hide.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Too bad you didn’t know about their Bonneville history.

      Pretty legit amateur rally car too, and street cred too in a straight line with the V8.

  7. Terry J

    As long as it is seized…….Not being a “put a small block Chevy in everything with wheels” kinda guy…..In this case I’d lean toward the 283 Studebaker Thunderbolt V8 engine I had in my ’66 Daytona. Remember that one readers? :-) Terry J

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Chevy small block ended up in the next body style too.

    • Vince Habel

      It was called a McKinnon engine which was a Canadian built Chevy small block.I had a 65.

  8. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty G Staff

    Nice! I just love these Larks.

  9. Terry J

    I saw an ad for a ’66 Studebaker Daytona ( 30 years ago). It stated that it had a 283 Studebaker V8/Auto. I just knew the ad was wrong, so I got out my Interchange Manual ( an old JC Whitney catalogue). Sure enough it listed a gasket set for a Stude 283. Hmmmm…same parts number as a Chevy. When I bought the car, the owner told me that they only built that engine for a couple of years and parts were hard to find. I said “I can find every engine part I want at any autoparts store in town”. He thought I was daft. Owning it I discovered from an old NAPA store guy that they used Borg Warner (Ford Cruise o Matic) trannys and when I once needed brake parts he looked it up under obsolete Jaguar Girling brakes. Sure was great to know an on timer at the parts counter, but they are pretty much gone now. :-) Terry J

    • Vince Habel

      NAPA stores sill carry many Studebaker parts. Sometimes you need to know what other makes used the same parts. Old J.C. Whitney books make a good cross reference.

  10. Packrat

    The Studebaker Driver’s Club is one of the most knowledgeable and supportive clubs out there, parts are readily available, entire flathead sixes are available easily as this basic six was available in different iterations from 1939 to 1961. Great little car if the rust hasn’t taken the frame (floorboards, etc. available iirc).

  11. Ed P

    An old Baltimore City cop told me that he liked the Larks. They handled better than the previous cars. Of course before the Larks the city used bigger Fords and Chevys.

  12. Terry J

    No offense intended Packrat. I do understand the importance of saving cars intact for historical purposes, especially survivors like this one. I knew Studebaker guys that disdained my Daytona as a non -Studebaker. It was sure fun to drive though. :-) Terry J

    • Packrat

      Oh, my comment was not left in response to yours, Terry J, and no offense taken. I just pipe up from time to time when I see one of these cars to say what a great club the SDC is–I was a member for twenty years and quit when I had to get rid of my ’63 Lark Regal. The thought I had in mind was: sometimes car mods are made because the drivetrain is really good, but replacement parts for orphan cars can be intimidating or frustrating, so that’s why a swap for a more ‘vanilla’ drivetrain seems to be a good idea. A SBC works fine in these cars, but the SDC Turning Wheels is full of resources to keep them rolling stock. The first year of the OHV were reported as problematic IIRC until they beefed up the casting. This is the reliable old flathead instead. In regards to the car you had, I think the ’65 and ’66 cars all had Chevrolet engines in them and were built in Hamilton, Ontario, as the ’64s were the last regular sedans made in South Bend. I have an old ’57 Plymouth that I’ve had for over ten years and I still don’t know where to source parts for it the same way I had Studebaker connections. My dad drove them, and along with the ’51 Chevy pickup he had, these Larks are the source of many fond memories.

      • Vince Habel

        Packrat

        You don’t need a car to belong to the Studebaker Drivers Club. I hhave been a member since 1969.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Hamilton, my hometown! Another reason I really want one of these!

  13. Howard A

    Being a 1960, I believe this is the “170” motor, that dates back to the early ’50’s. It was the last year for the flathead, as the “Skybolt” OHV engine came out in ’61. Lark was one of the 1st to put a V-8 in a smaller car in ’59, and would have been the desirable option ( although, owners complained they were front heavy) Cool find. I bet there’s youngun’s that never even heard of a Studebaker. Studebaker was a good car.

  14. JimmyinTEXAS

    Here is one… http://www.hanksters.com/1960-Studebaker-Lark/Used-ClassicCar/HomerCity-PA/6582589/Details.aspx

    Little more(19.9K) than 2500 ask for this one, but this one will fly on the day you pick it up. SBC took the place of the frozen engine and an automatic sends power further down the line to a Ford rear end of the 8″ persuasion.

    • JCW Member

      Looks like the one in Homer City Pa was somebody’s baby till they sold it.wanna bet divorce. Lost a 65 Mustang that way.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Nice find!

  15. G 1

    The underpinnings (frame) on all studes from 1953 on were the same except Avanti . In 54 they put bigger brakes on and an extra crossmember I think. Never had a ball joint front end or step down floors. R2 Lark would be cool.

    • Vince Habel

      G 1

      Studebaker never used ball joints. The Avanti frame is a Lark convertible frame. Yes the V8 had a heavier frame

    • Bobsmyuncle

      +1 for the R2!

  16. AlphaRoaming

    FYI: I believe the frame/chassis on the Lark six is lighter than the V-8. Check with the Stude Club forum before you commit to a bigger engine. They will be happy to help…

  17. John

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a pair of MoonEquipped eyes. Thanks Jimmy.

    Structurally, the Lark was a tank. With a good motor this could be a really fun little car. A good Chevy S10 V6 drive train would give it a new lease on life.

    • JimmyinTEXAS

      No problem…LOL
      I was thinking about an LF3 or LF4, 400+ HP and all the torque in the world. If I were going to start with ol mooneyes I would have to hammer out those louvers or find another hood..

      • Bobsmyuncle

        I agree. Not a huge fan of the interior either.

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