Keep on trucking
Dear Classic American,
I recently realised my dream of owning an American pick-up after finding a 1946 Studebaker M5 advertised on the internet. The vehicle, a right-hand-drive South African export model, was advertised back in September 2020, but it wasn’t until we were ‘set free’ in spring 2021, after the Covid lockdown, that I went to view it – 150 miles away in Wiltshire. I negotiated a deal and a week later it was trailered home. The truck, which was imported to the UK in 2002, still retains its original petrol engine, a Champion, straight-six, flathead 169cu in (2.8-litre) and a four-speed T9 ‘crash’ gearbox. A previous owner had replaced the six-volt positive-earth electrics, and it’s now 12-volt negative-earth, with an alternator instead of a dynamo.
After three weeks of ownership, having renewed all the fuel lines, flushed out the fuel tank and cleaned out the carburettor, she was starting and running well, so I went for a test drive with the intention of attending the Spring Break at Stonham Barns, 45 miles away… brake issues meant that one of my Morris Minors went to the show instead.
After the brakes were rebuilt, I managed to get to a local show, the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity Vintage Fair at Cressing Temple Barns, where the Studebaker was well received… many people had never seen one before.
The following week was Speedfest at Brands Hatch, but problems with the propshaft and diff meant that it was too risky and so Transportfest at the Museum of Power, just three miles down the road in Maldon, was my next outing. Fast forward to October, and with a brand new propshaft and a rebuilt diff and rear axle, I set off for the Heritage Transport Show in Detling near Maidstone, a 126mile round trip, which was a bit daunting, but all went well. Spurred on by October’s successful road trip, November saw me heading back to Kent for the Brands Hatch Truck Racing & Fireworks event, this time towing a caravan.
The weekend was a great success, and the Studebaker was a popular attraction among the many, mainly modern, display trucks. In addition, I can now boast that I have driven a 75-year-old pick-up four times around the Brands Hatch race circuit.
The icing on the cake was when, two days later, a package arrived containing my first award: Winner in the Best Classic, Recovery or Special Truck Category, as voted for by the public. The Studebaker is still in need of a lot of TLC, however, the intention is that it will be a rolling restoration, so that I can enjoy it and attend as many shows as possible. I have, and will, do as much of the work as I can, however, fortunately, I have some good friends who are able to help with anything I can’t manage, to whom I am very grateful.
Wow Suzanne, you really have been putting in the miles and the effort and it sounds like the truck will improve and get better as you turn your attention to improving and upgrading it. The best thing for classics is for them to be used and it certainly looks like your Stude is doing just that!