By Sue Moore
One of the feature cars on Vicksburg’s main four corners for the Old Car Festival this year will be a 1955 Studebaker Speedster, owned by Larry Gardon of Quincy, Michigan. He likes to attend the Vicksburg Old Car Festival because there are so many nice people here and he has become good friends with the Skip Knowles family of volunteers.
Only 2,200 of these cars were manufactured by Studebaker in 1955. About 200 are left around the country, according to Gardon. He traveled to Missouri to purchase the disassembled car. He said he was worried about whether all the parts were there. But when he trailered it home and started to work on it, he had all the parts he needed.
It took him about two years to put it back into commission, with help from his wife Patricia and several other restoration friends. “I try to know my limitations,” Gardon said. “I put a lot of money into it, wanting it to be done right. Others have helped with the paint and body work. Visitors to the car show won’t have much trouble finding the car, as the paint job is done in ‘off the wall’ colors. It resembles dandelion yellow and grass green, but the Studebaker people called it ‘lemon lime’,” Gardon said.
“It was finished last fall, so it hasn’t been to many shows. I have been reserving it for the Vicksburg car show, then we have been invited to the prestigious St. John’s concourse show in Plymouth, Michigan later in June.”
Gardon owns seven Studebaker models and has been bringing them to Vicksburg over the last eight years. Several years ago, he exhibited an antique milk truck that caught a lot of visitors’ attention. He is also a member of the Chelsea, Michigan car club. This group is bringing eight cars for the show. Knowles is reserving a special space for them, since they won’t be getting here at the crack of dawn.
Studebaker in South Bend built its last car in 1966. The company just couldn’t keep up with the competition from the Big Three automakers, Gardon said. But he added it built high-quality vehicles that were way ahead of their time in styling and innovation, which is one of the reasons Gardon enjoys owning this line of cars. He is a retired pharmacist, working many years for the State of Michigan’s prison system.