Paul Johnson Story
Mr. Johnson still owns the 1964 Wagonaire that he picked up at the Hamilton plant in Ontario, Canada and drove it back to his then home in Kansas. Here is his story in his own words:
I traded in our ‘61 Lark Cruiser on the wagon. I left off some essentials on ordering the Wagonaire based on our experience with the Cruiser (first new car and first Studebaker). It had steered easily without power steering so I didn’t order it on the Wagonaire- big mistake as the Wagonaire was much heavier. I added power steering in 1969 taking a complete set off a wrecked ‘64 Daytona hardtop in a local wrecking yard.
When I ordered the Wagonaire factory air wasn’t available nor were headrests and Hill Holder so I had them dealer installed. I had seat belts omitted because I wanted to install three-point belts which I did. I also only bought a right side headrest thinking the driver sure didn’t need one. I found a correct one a few years later and installed it. Over the years I added a few Studebaker accessory items- child proof door locks, day-night mirror, four-way flashers, locking gas cap and I changed the manual windshield washer to the one that switched on the wipers when the pedal was pressed.
The car has approximately 130,000 miles on it. It was never babied and was used hard- pulled a 3,800 pound travel trailer, hauled bulk playground bark by opening the roof, putting down the rear seat and rolling up the rear glass then dumping a loader bucket full in to the car. I carried a new refrigerator, a new dishwasher, several live Christmas trees, even four people square dancing in the back in a parade.
About 3/4 of the paint and all of the interior is original. When the car was a week old a woman backed in to the right rear quarter so it was repaired and painted. Then the leading edge of the hood got chipped in shipping so it got touched up. Then the car was rear ended sitting at a light so the rear bumper got replaced and the tailgate got touched up. I actually got a chip in the windshield in the first 24 hours of owning the car- had to wait at Windsor, Ontario to go through US customs then was driving through Detroit when a big chunk of dirt came off a low boy equipment trailer ahead of me, bounced up and hit the windshield. The weakest part of the car was the overdrive tranny. It is on its third one.
The car always ran well, smoothly with no clutch slippage or chatter, but the oil pressure had gotten a bit low. We were planning to go on another chapter trip following US 30 from coast to coast and back (we had made a 6,000-mile chapter trip on old Route 66 in 2003) so I decided to let a man go through the engine in preparation for the trip. The result was a very long horror story and I was so discouraged that I just put it in the barn and left it for a few years.
Just before the South Bend International (2017 Ed.) I started it, drove it out of the barn and on to my car trailer and took it to a long-time, very honest Studebaker shop near Lancaster, PA and they are bringing it back. It is already drivable, but needs some odds and ends yet (power steering pump that got water in it when the hood was off for example). It needs some minor rust repair, windlace replacement, door rubber and carpet replacement (have a NOS carpet set).
I’m a compulsive obsessive when it comes to saving things so I have all the original paperwork on the car and I have scanned things like the customs sign-off, original dealer order forms, etc.