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Diesel Powered Lark

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Apr 22, 2008, 11:02:34 PM4/22/08
I received an email from a friend of mine who is into Desoto and
Chrysler products. He told me he visited a Studebaker fan in West
Virginia and most of his collection of cars were orphan brands. He
took my friend into one of his garages where he showed him a 1963 Lark
two door sedan that is black. The man claims Studebaker only made six
such sedans in black. He also claims his Lark is one of only two
produced that are equipped with a Perkins diesel engine and the only
one with a diesel and automatic. My friend said the car was in very
good shape and only has 40K miles on it. The owner did not start it
for him as he said it currently has injector issues.

I wanted to know if any of you are familiar with this collector and
his Lark. I'm in the North Texas SDC and I would like to tell the
club about this Lark at the next club meeting. If I had more
information about the collector and the Lark, it would make the
discussion more interesting.

Richard Yeats


Apr 22, 2008, 11:22:15 PM4/22/08
It's real and a very cool piece.... I believe it belongs to Torey
Kirby (spelling could be off). I've been to his place and there are a
LOT of really interesting pieces simply rotting away in poor, outdoor
storage in tall grass.

I saw the Lark at the Martinsburg meet in '06 and it was running and
driving. Really an interesting sound and it just clicked 'em off nice
and smooth. I think it would be a really cool example to have around.

Other than that, I cannot tell you much about the car.

Lee DeLaBarre

Paul Johnson

Apr 23, 2008, 8:28:21 AM4/23/08

"Lee" <> wrote in message

> It's real and a very cool piece.... I believe it belongs to Torey
> Kirby (spelling could be off). I've been to his place and there are a
> LOT of really interesting pieces simply rotting away in poor, outdoor
> storage in tall grass.
Yes, he is Torrey Kirby. He has had the car since new or near new (I
believe)- bought it in DC suburban Maryland.
Email me off group and I'll give you his contact info. Just call him- he'll
be happy to tell you about it.
Paul Johnson


Jan 7, 2022, 12:01:08 AM1/7/22
Hi there, Lenny Visnick here. My family were Studebaker dealers in metro Boston MA, tilll the end. Had quite a bit of knowledge of these Larks, one was assigned to our dealership to demonstrate to fleet customes in boston. the fleets included: Boston Gas Company, New Emgland Telephone, Boston Edison Co. Grossman's Lumber, Boston Taxi Assoc. (ITOA) Commonwealth Gas Co. and Massachusetts Electric.. At the time of South Bend's closing we had a firm order for 25 63D-F1's for Boston Gas Company. we were also compiling an order of 63D-Y1's for the ITOA, a group buy amoung independent taxi owners. The Black y1, that I own (2021) has the perking P4 diesel, with a three-speed standard trans, floor shiter, direct to top of tranny, no other gearshift linkage, kept simple. All the protental sales came to the end with South bend's closing. I have never regestered my car, as i have allways had access to a dealer or repair plate to use on it.
Somewhere I have a letter from the factory with all the history surrounding these cars. There were 10 Larks and Ten Champs built with P4's havf automatics, as10, and half three on the floor.
The Champ i have is likely the only one that was not sold to a tractor dealer in the midwest with the understanding that the were to have the engines removed for replacement use in farm tractors.
I was never able to find-out why they did not do this with the larks, they were sold to dealers for $1500.00 per, that is what was payed for mine. The Champ survived only due to Chuck Orsborn, the Revere Factory branch Mgr, He wanted to keep it to take packages to the Post Office, as he dis-liked Railway Express.

It was at Revere, along with my GM Detroit powered Truck Tractor, has a 453 engine, like the rest, standard nose, not the "compact" It is red with the only marking being One of the larger "uniform Identity" decals on each door, Other than a few demos, it spent it's life indoors in the loading dock, and was used to move trailers in/out of dock, The Champ and The Tractor were left behind when they closed Revere Depot, and the firm that bought the building had my phone number in case they found any "hidden" parts. It was a good ten months later that they told me the two were abandoned there. I call South Bend and they told me they were "off the books" and tht if i was interested, i could buy them for $500.00 each. I mailed them a money order and a few weeks later, the Manufacturer's Certificates of origin arrived in the mail. They have been stored indoors with little use since then, both have about 15,000 miles. and are all 100% origional, except the batteries and the tires on the tractor.The Champ has it's origional GATES tires and they are not checker, cracked or bumpy, they are bias ply nylon core. Have several other Studes with Gates Tires and they are useable to this day, no leaks.

Gates tires were on the check list for vehicles built for sale west of the Mississippi River, In the East, the option was Firestone tire, If you did not check off any box on the order form, you got the standard US Royal tires Also have two Factory cars, that have factory installed Kelsey Hayes Mag-Star wheels with wider Gates Tires,, The wheel centers are the same they used on the wire wheel hubcaps. (listed in parts book) I think the black two-door was the Phila. Zone demo, somewhere i have the serial numbers of all the Diesels, along with the parts break-down for all the special parts, and a list of contact/warranty parts for the Perkins.

I do remember our dealership changing the clutch on a two door, It came in on the hook if i remember right, and one of the factory reps was driving it around, likely after hamilton closed, and they sold off all the factory cars , along with the remaining new "65+66 cars, and a few factory service people were given the diesels to drive as they were not considered sale-able. Having moved recently i am still sorting out the Paper-work from my own and the Dealership (recently given by a relative who did the final paperwork when the dealership was sold 1n 1980.

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