“What did the President know and when did he know it?”
— Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings
Six classic cars owned by Sen. Baker are coming up for auction March 14, so it might be appropriate to ask: What cars did Sen. Baker drive and when did Sen. Baker drive them?
Turns out, the late senator was a car guy, although once, when showing people around his garage, he was asked where the tools were and admitted he didn’t work on his cars himself.
But that didn’t stop him from assembling — and driving — a nice six-car collection that Furrow Auction Co. of Knoxville, Tennessee, will be selling to benefit the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, where the auction will be held.
Baker was very particular about his cars and who worked on them. As a result, Furrow issued a news release saying all six cars will be ready to be driven home from the auction. Those cars are:
- A 1951 Hudson Hornet convertible,
- A 1937 Cord 812 Beverly sedan,
- A 1941 Lincoln Continental coupe,
- A 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible,
- A 1951 Studebaker Champion G10 coupe,
- A 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible.
Mileage on the cars varies from only 5,565 on the V12-powered ’41 Continental to 88,508 on the Studebaker, which was purchased by one of Baker’s daughters, who bought the car with money from her mother and by borrowing $500 from the family attorney.
“The car needed a ton of work,” said Blake Wilson, a Furrow Auction vice president. “Senator Baker couldn’t stand for cars not to be in good shape, and he did a restoration of the car.”
Wilson said Baker would come back from long periods in Washington, see that his daughter hadn’t done maintenance on the car and would “fix it up” yet again. Baker was so concerned about his cars, Wilson said, that he had a special garage built just for them. Baker died in 2014; in his will, he designated that his car collection be sold to benefit the university.
Wilson noted that Baker bought the ’62 Galaxie convertible when it was brand new and used it as his primary driver until sharing it with another of his daughters. The car is being sold with 85,134 miles on its odometer.
The ’63 Lincoln four-door convertible was the car Baker took to Washington to drive when he served as senator from 1967-1985. In 1987, he became chief of staff for President Reagan and was U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2001 – 2005.