As I parked along the gravel road, I gazed upon about four or five acres of stuff. I knew this was going to be a long day. I walked down the long driveway through rows of wagon parts, (also made by Studebaker) farm implements, and piles of household goods. This represented many years of someone’s buying, gathering, and collecting.
I quickly signed in and collected my bidder card before continuing to look through the sale items. As I passed through more piles, and what seemed like a huge crowd of people, I started to see cars and trucks. This is what I really came for. There were several rows of Studebakers with a few Chevrolets mixed in. I walk along slowly, taking mental notes of each one and making a plan in my head. Then, as I came closer to the end of the property, far in the back, and down in a low ditch was the treasure I had come for. It stood out like a black swan in a sea of white, and the mere sight of it made everyone question, “What is that?” As I stood there above it, the skies opened and rays of light beamed down like a light house beacon. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but this treasure was now on top of my list, and I knew I wanted to bring her home.
The owner had bought it years ago for $25 and was told that it was a 1964 Zip Van, made in one of the last years Studebaker was in business. But from what I could figure….. he probably brought it home and parked it right where it sat today, and never did any more research to confirm the story.
Later in the day, and just as my sunburn was taking hold, I was able to secure the winning bid. I was more than happy to bring this baby home.
Very quickly we found that this was not actually a Zip Van, but was built much earlier. In actuality it was a 1946 Studebaker Van, which is great too. It had been made into a rather quaint little camper, with paneling and cabinets inside, including what could be considered an early version of what we call a slide out on the back. As we did our usual cleaning and minor repairs, we found a folded up piece of sheet metal inside, and to my amazement it looked like it could be from the side where there was a large area that was missing its sheet metal.
Using a hammer and various dollies, my daughter Carli set out to straighten that ball of metal out flat again, and within a few hours, we had it attached back to the side of our little van. This made a huge difference, and it seemed like the van was coming back to life. We took the extension off the back, cleaned it up, and returned a lot of it back to a more stock version.
This is a very cool little 1946 Studebaker Van, and I’ve personally never seen another one. This one is in pretty good shape, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to resto mod it with all new metal ribs and sheet metal on the back. Lower it a bit and make it a hot rod. You’ll probably have the coolest van in town, or maybe the whole state. Located in Minot, North Dakota, this one is stock #102A, and has a title. Write a check, and you could put this one back on the road.