Studebaker folks are unfailingly interesting. So when I met John Saltsman at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show this past January standing by his amazing Atomitron, a highly customized 1949 Studebaker pickup, I wasn’t too surprised to hear that he had other Studebaker stories to share. However, when he produced the few pictures in existence of the 1953 Studebaker Coupe he modified as a teenager, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
The first unbelievable thing about this custom… It was built by John while he was still in high school! The year was 1970 and Fastback Mustang’s were all the rage. He liked ‘em, but couldn’t afford one. What he lacked in cash he made up for with a wealth of car building knowledge in his family. Looking at the lines of the ’53 Coupe he figured it could be built into a fastback all his own.
The main modification was creating the fastback. To do this, he took the trunk out of a 1949 Cadillac and covered the whole trunk section and back window with it, integrating it into the rear roof of the Studebaker.
Along with a few other modifications such as custom front hood vents, he knew it needed a cool paint job.
Stealing the lace from his Mom’s nice dining room table, he gave it the custom look by adding a laced stripe down the middle and side panel lace inserts.
The Studebaker’s whereabouts now are a bit of a mystery. After John drove it during highschool, he moved out to Southern California leaving the car behind. Around 1973 his Mom sold the Custom Studebaker for $300 after “neighbors complained.”
At one point John went looking for his old custom and found that an avid Studebaker collector in Phoenix had bought it. What did the collector think it was? A rare Studebaker prototype car! Since the collector wouldn’t sell it back – at least John can have the satisfaction of knowing that his high school customization work was mistaken as a factory design!
This is just one of the wild and crazy car stories you get while attending car shows! Who else has a customized Studebaker Coupe story to share?? One of my other favorite’s is Gord Dreidger’s Salf Flat Racing Blue Beauty.