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My Classic Car: Carey Hill’s 1963 Studebaker Lark


Carey Hill has owned this 1963 Studebaker Lark since 1972 | Carey Hill photos
Carey Hill has owned this 1963 Studebaker Lark since 1972 | Carey Hill photos

My father worked for the local Studebaker agents in New Plymouth, New Zealand. One of the Studebakers we used to see in to the workshop from time to time was a 1963 Studebaker Lark that belonged to a local farming family, the Abrahams. They had bought it new and lived right up high above New Plymouth city on the slopes of Mt .Taranaki — a near perfect cone volcano (dormant) behind the city.

In 1972, the Abraham family traded the Studebaker in on a new Mazda Capella RX2 rotary-engine saloon and the Studebaker, with 52,000 miles on the clock, was for sale in the dealership used car lot.

And so, in 1972, at the tender age of 16 years, I became the second owner of this Studebaker Lark.

At the recent Americarna weekend
At the recent Americarna weekend

Turn the clock to 2014 and the Studebaker still takes pride of place in our family fleet of cars, which includes a Mazda Miata, Nissan Maxima and Ford Mustang convertible.

The Studebaker remains a fast and comfortable cruiser with its 289cid V8 and a four-speed gearbox.

Studebakers in New Zealand were assembled with right-hand drive. The cars were sent here in what was called CKD — completed knocked down — kits, which means they arrived in parts and had to be assembled. In 1963, about 96 Studebakers were sent here for local assembly.

The original Studebaker overdrive gearbox proved a little light back in the ‘70s when I was street racing everyone. I replaced it with a Ford gearbox.

The engine was fully reconditioned a few years ago with all the reciprocating parts fully balanced — a hot camshaft sourced and fitted with a new Edelbrock four-barrel carb and manifold. Dual exhausts feature Forza-flow mufflers. She is loud and a strong performer.

When needed, parts for the car are sourced from studebakerparts.com.

1986 Ford Mustang is a work in progress
1986 Ford Mustang is a work in progress

P.S. The 1986 Mustang is a recent purchase and a running project car. It was imported second-hand from California to New Zealand in 2008 by another enthusiast but the restoration never progressed. Rock Auto in the U.S. has been brilliant supplying the needed parts.

Oh, and the Nash Metropolitan has been in the family since 1973. It was found crashed in a wrecking yard, purchased for $70 and rebuilt.

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