Monday, July 1, 2013

World comes to Colorado Springs for Studebaker convention

Posted By on Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 10:59 AM

A 1951 Studebaker pickup photographed last year in San Francisco.
  • Radoslaw Lecyk/
  • A 1951 Studebaker pickup photographed last year in San Francisco.

As of yesterday, June 30th, well over 800 families and 1,400 individuals have taken over Colorado Springs for the 49th International Meet of the Studebaker Drivers Club. It’s the first time the Meet has been held in Colorado in 40 years.

Running through July 6th, the convention — taking place at Hotel Elegante Conference & Event Center — holds seminars, live music, a swap meet and car corral, banquets, tours of Garden of the Gods and other events all focused on the community that surrounds the Studebaker Legacy.

Starting in the 1860s, Studebaker began producing carriages, and, as time progressed, moved into automobile production. The Drivers Club is an international organization with over 12,000 members that was founded a few years before the production stopped in March of 1966. Pete Tetley, a member of the Pikes Peak chapter, noted that Studebaker goes “beyond the beginning of the automobile” which contributes to the “famous legacy.”

Luckily, very few cancellations happened because of the fires, even though, as Tetley said, “The media is pouncing on Colorado, saying it’s a burning inferno.” Members from Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and other international locales will be attending and, in some cases, have shipped their cars to Colorado for the event. Tetley said he “finds it quite interesting. It’s a dedicated group of people.”

When asked about what that enthusiasm stems from, he discussed the Studebaker craftsmanship that was handed down family lineages: “They always tried to keep it a family business all along. I attribute the dedication of the owners who own them now back to when jobs were handed from father to son, and many of these automobiles are passed from father to son or mother to daughter.” He also mentioned the group’s active pursuit of keeping youth involved to create excitement about the legacy for future generations.

The Meet will showcase anything from horse-drawn carriages to super-charged fiberglass classics. Judging is on July 4th, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the best time to catch all the cars in one swoop.

On the last day, there will be a drive up Pikes Peak, with at least 75 Studebakers making the trip. Many won’t be making the journey, though: The cars coming in from the flat lands and other countries may have trouble with the lack of oxygen.

In any case, the events are free to the public, so grab the kids, bring a camera and check out a slice of American car history.

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