Folks, it’s that time, the moment none of you have been waiting for. After hours of internet classified searches, many sleepless nights spent thinking up pop culture references to stump David, and a good solid five minutes devoted to meticulously researching each car, it has all come down to this. Four sub-$2500 cars. Only one can win.
It’s not even 5:30 here on the West Coast, but I’m calling it. Yesterday’s Shitbox Showdown was a 70-30 split; it’s clear that you all like Studebakers (and the band Devo, apparently). The 1976 Datsun 710 is also a worthy project, and many of you seem to agree, but we’re here to arbitrarily choose one car or the other, and yesterday that car was the 1962 Studebaker Lark.
Anyway, let’s recap our four finalists of the week; since you’ve all had your say, I’ll throw in my two cents as I go through these. That’s half a cent per car… yeah, that’s probably about what my opinion is worth.
I have a soft spot for Sciroccos. My first car was a ’79 Scirocco, in Diamond Silver Metallic and rust two-tone. I loved it until it succumbed to underbody rust so bad that it nearly broke in two. I actually cried a little when it went to the junkyard. I’ve wanted another ever since. One of these later Karmann Sciroccos would be all right, I guess, but It can’t hold a candle to that crisp folded-paper Giugiaro original. But for 500 bones, if I had the space and bandwidth for another car project, I’d have bought this yesterday. (And it looks like someone did; the ad is gone.)
I’ve never been a fan of flat black; I’d put it back to the original red, I think. I’ve been wanting to try that “Rust-Oleum and a foam roller” paint job, and this would be a good candidate. The ripped and busted GTI seats would have to go, as would that tacky aftermarket steering wheel (what is that, an EMPI knockoff?). Then I’d do what these old early water cooled VWs do best: just drive.
This one surprised me; I didn’t expect it to win. I like it, but I didn’t think anyone else would. Chalk one up for seventies GM nostalgia, I guess. Or I underestimated the overall dislike for the PT Cruiser. But this Buick is a sharp-looking car inside and out, and the transmission issue could be as simple as a fluid change and a cable adjustment. (Or it might not be. You pays your money, you takes your chances).
Since bolt-on self-tuning electronic fuel injection systems became a thing, I’ve wondered what they would do for the drivability of these old early smog boat-anchor engines. Low-compression no-cam-lift V8s like this run forever, but they barely run in the first place. I’d be curious to see what a Holley Sniper EFI kit would do to this old Oldsmobile 260. Not with the goal of improving performance, just making it run properly. And as I said in the original post, I’m a sucker for a liftback.
I wouldn’t want this car for myself, honestly. Too big, too new, and I would get annoyed by the police-car stigma quickly, I think. But I’m sure somebody will want to fix it up. It sure got enough votes; this was our most lopsided win of the week.
I agree with David; I love this car. But I’m even less equipped to take this on as a project than I would be the Scirocco. To do this car justice, you need to devote yourself to it. You need to eat, breathe, and sleep Studebaker. You need a garage space with a lift dedicated to it, and the patience to take it apart and assess the condition of each system and lovingly coax it back into working order. This isn’t some damn common Ford Falcon; it’s a Studebaker, for Pete’s sake, and you need to treat it with respect. And then, when you’ve found out where to get parts, go drive the wheels off it. I couldn’t do that with this car because my MGB GT would get jealous. And when a British car gets jealous, watch out. Get ready to break out the multimeter.
In short, for my money, it’d be a hard choice between the Scirocco and the Skylark. But I don’t have to make that choice; you do. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, and then we’ll take a look at two new bad ideas. See you then!