I owned an old ’49 Studebaker back in the days when I attended college in San Jose, California. I call it old because even back then it was close to being a collector’s item because the company closed in 1966.

But during the time I owned the car it served me well.

Most notable.

During college I took a year off to travel through Europe with my buddy Ron De George.

We got the old Studebaker prepared for the trip all the way across the United States from San Jose to Boston, Massachussets, a distance of 3,200 miles (kilometres did not count then).

Driving non-stop, except for meals and gas, we made it in less than 60 hours.

Never once did the old Studebaker fail us, but it showed signs of car fatique, and we wondered already if it would ever make it back to California.

After a short visit with his father in Boston, we parked the car in his back yard and sailed for Naples on the Italian Line.

Landing in Italy, we visited Ron’s relatives, who lived in a seventh-floor walk-up in Naples, then toured several western European countries, returning to Naples for passage back to the United States.

The Studebaker was there in Boston as we had left it in the back yard.

It started right up with a battery boost.

Time came to head back to California.

I liked stopping for meals and gas at the overhead rest stops on eastern freeways. Back across America’s Midwest we went without car trouble, but the old Studebaker developed a strange piston knock that sounded bad.

We crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains and made it back, but barely just. The knock was louder.

I enrolled and hoped the car would again take me to college in San Jose from Santa Cruz, where Ron and I now lived.


One morning I got on the freeway for the 40-minute drive to San Jose, when the old Studebaker began clunking real bad and died.

Right there on the shoulder halfway between Santa Cruz and San Jose.

I called for a towtruck, had it dragged to the junkyard and sold it for $15.

That was the end of my old Studebaker. I had to hitch a ride from someone to get to college until I found another car.

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