Duane Miller of Eldridge, president of the Midwestern chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club, says his love affair with the cars started decades ago when his father, who sold farm equipment, traded a Case combine for a 1950 Studebaker.
“It’s something different,” Miller says. “Anybody down the street can have a Ford or a Chevy or a Dodge, but there aren’t that many Studebakers and I just like ’em.”
The Studebaker Brothers began making wagons and carriages in the 1850s in South Bend, Indiana, and progressed to cars in the early 1900s, but by the 1960s, financial trouble forced the company to close. Miller says the Studebaker Drivers Club now has more than 12,000 members worldwide, including in Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
“Several people and businesses still have original parts, manufactured by Studebaker, that have never been on a car,” Miller says. “They bought out dealerships here and there and parts. A few things are hard to find but we’ve got people all over the country making a living doing nothing but selling Studebaker parts.”
Among the weekend’s events, there will be meet-ups to swap parts and stories, as well as car cruises around the Quad Cities and a trip to the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott. Members of the club will also gather in LeClaire on Saturday for a Mississippi River sightseeing cruise on a riverboat.