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Classic Car Corner - Risky Endeavours

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere

RISKY ENDEAVOURS:  Sometimes in life we take chances – calculated risks. 

Berg photo2I try to weigh my odds and decide what’s the worst that can happen and can I live with that outcome. I live my life this way and it carries over to my classic car purchases. 

I’ve driven cars back from San Juan Island, Bellingham (in the snow), Pullman (ran out of gas), Port Townsend and Portland (broke a fan belt and spent the night in Chehalis) so I figure why not Ogden, Utah! The worst that could happen is it breaks down and gets towed back and I have a repair bill so I figured I could live with that and decided to buy a real nice 1964 Studebaker Gran Tourisimo Hawk. It’s a sleek looking 2-door hardtop with a Studebaker 289 c.i.d. V-8, 2 barrel, automatic. Studebaker only made 1400 of these 1964s and actually ceased production in December of 1963. In the pictures the seller sent it looked great but I, of course, had the option of not buying it after my personal inspection in Utah which means I would have had to get back to the airport and see if I could catch a plane back home. Not a great option but I figured I could live with that if it wasn’t as nice as the pictures.

On Friday morning I took two days off from selling homes and I caught the 7 a.m. flight to Salt Lake City (had to get up at 4 a.m. – Ugh).

It’s only 1 hour, 25 minutes air time but of course 14 hours – plus a hotel – by car to get back to Woodinville. With the help of a friendly local I managed to catch the light rail into town and a commuter rail out to Ogden where the seller picked me up. Upon reaching their home I quickly checked out the car and it looked great. It’s totally stock except for an older re-paint, and the interior is especially nice – looks brand new but it’s 50 years old.

I took a short demonstration drive, paid up, did some paperwork and was off by 12:45. It was cold and there was snow in the foothills right next to town but the sky was clearing and I figured I’d make it 330 miles to Boise. 

The weather cooperated, the car ran great and I made Boise by just after dark and checked into the first place I could find.

As I woke up in Boise I saw that they had just gotten their first snowfall of the year, but the freeway was clear so off I went to cover the 500 miles home by dark. I did come upon some light snow flurries and lots of wind but made good time to Baker, Pendleton then Yakima and the Hawk was running great. My Karma must have caught up with me because as I headed up the hill out of Yakima I heard a ticking sound and noticed my oil pressure was right around zero. I quickly pulled over and saw no oil on a very hot dipstick. I walked back to the gas station I had just passed (next building north of any kind was about 30 miles), bought some oil, walked back and filled up the crankcase. The car started but still had that ticking sound and low oil pressure so I backed up on the freeway to the gas station and called my buddies at AAA. I am one of their better customers.

A driver came all the way from Ellensburg to haul me and my new Studie 132 miles back to Woodinville, the Studie to Mike’s Repair and me to my home. I did make the entire trip in two days, just not quite how I planned it.

I didn’t wreck the car, or catch it on fire, or break down many hundreds of miles from home so it certainly could have been worse. I may even end up with a newly re-built engine (for a few thousand dollars) but I’m going to own another really cool car. Keep an eye out for the dark green, low slung studie in my #1 parking spot next to the street at Windermere Real Estate.

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