This year is a significant milestone for the Studebaker Drivers Club of New Zealand, as it will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and also holding its 25th National Meet in Rotorua over Easter weekend. Expect to see up to 50 Studebakers around the city, with a display and concours judging taking place at the Lakefront Village Green area on Saturday March 31 from 9am to 3pm, with the public welcome to attend.
The club began when a group of Studebaker enthusiasts in Canterbury formalized their meetings in 1968 then, shortly afterwards, registered it as an incorporated society. Their aims were to promote Studebakers, support owners with technical advice and parts supply, and organize events and social activities to foster a family-focused club. At about this time, franchise dealers were phasing out Studebaker parts, as the Studebaker Corporation had stopped producing cars in 1964 (US) and 1966 (Canada).
The club flourished and, within a few years, had spread to regions outside of Canterbury. In the 1980s, the club became officially affiliated to the US Studebaker Drivers Club. The club’s headquarters remains in Christchurch, with national coverage maintained through six regions and total membership of around 220. Each region runs regular club events, and, every second year, a national Studebaker meet is held over Easter weekend. On the alternate years, Australian Studebaker clubs hold their national meets.
Today, the club is in good heart and has remained true to its original aims, with a number of founding members still active. There is a good supply of parts and plenty of support available from members. One major change, though, is that the focus has changed from maintaining Studebakers as daily-drivers to preserving them as classics.
Studebakers appeal because they are different by design, with innovative technical features and a wide variety of body styles. Studebakers were imported to New Zealand in reasonable numbers from the 1910s to the mid 1960s, with some models assembled here. Many have survived, and, with subsequent importing from Australia and the US, there’s a good range of cars and trucks.
If you own or have an interest in Studebakers (including Studebaker-related vehicles such as EMF, Garfield, Pierce-arrow, Erskine, Rockne, Packard, and Avanti), you are welcome to join the club.
For more information, or to get in touch, visit studebakerdriversclub.co.nz.