Large, left-hooker American Studebaker proved right choice

David Duggan with his 3.8-Litre American Studebaker on the base in Germany. Picture: supplied

David Duggan with his 3.8-Litre American Studebaker on the base in Germany. Picture: supplied - Credit: David Duggan supplied

David Duggan found switching from right to left-hand drive tricky when stationed in Germany but then fell for the charms of a large, American Studebaker.

When I was posted with the Armed Forces to Mettmann, near Dusseldorf, in Germany, driving Humber radio cars, I often looked around for a car but was put off as they were all left-hand drive.

All our service trucks were right-hand drive but one day in 1960 I was told to report to the signals office. As of then, I was a despatch driver running around in a left-hand drive 1,200cc Volkswagen – converting from one to another did not come easy.

After about a month, I was asking around for a car and then a mate of mine told me that he had found one. The next day we had a look at it.

It was a rather large American Studebaker 3.8-litre, six-cylinder model of 1949 vintage.


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It had no driver's door window or number plates but it was a Studebaker and it was built like a tank. The asking price was 1,600 Deutsche marks – about £125.

Well, it was the only one on the camp – so I had to have her. It took about a week to fix her up and I had to take her to have a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) road test to get my number plates and insurance.

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I drove the Studebaker all over Germany, Holland and France and, in all the years I had her, she never let me down. I have no ideas how many miles to the gallon I got because petrol, at that time, was the equivalent of only 5p a gallon. What a car!

Another thing I remember was that the car had a small gramophone with records on the back seat and it worked a treat.

Do you have some tales to tell about your first car? The adventures, scrapes, breakdowns, mishaps and maintenance just to keep it on the road. Email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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