Tippecanoe the Studebaker

I imported the Studebaker in April 1996 from Springfield, Missouri, unseen by me until he arrived in a huge crate at Felixtowe Docks. What a thrill that was! I had passed my driving test in my father’s 1955 Studebaker Champion Sedan 4 months after becoming 17 and always wanted my own to make up for the loss when that became uneconomical in the UK.

I’ve had little to do to the bodywork but a great deal of mechanical work to make him safe and roadworthy at 70 mph (or 80 mph all day, on the péage crossing France).

Tippecanoe Place is the name of the Studebaker Mansion in South Bend, Indiana where the Studebaker brothers opened their blacksmith shop in 1852.

Best Studebaker at ROG
“Best Studebaker” at the Rally of the Giants, Knebworth, July 2006.


Tippecanoe goes to Glyndebourne (2013)

We usually set off in completely the wrong direction and through the Blackwall Tunnel to join the M25 somewhere in the far east and then come west again before going south. This time I decided that on balance, less petrol would be used by the far fewer miles going directly down the A23 despite the one and a half hours that it took without any major delays to get as far as the M25 junction. I wonder whether that was correct? I suspect that it was.

We set off early to have a relaxed day without worry about getting there in time to set up our picnic site before the curtain up. Not too bad through the City, but slow enough for hasty answers to questions or praise for the car from pedestrians, all scurrying a bit late to work. I always feel that the car is a great addition to the spectacle for tourists as we drive slowly cross Tower Bridge.

It’s tedious through south London; normally I consider getting out of London to the south by car virtually impossible. But it certainly shows off the car to a multitude! Once on the M23 of course we’re all sails set and creaming. Despite being a Speedster, there’s a lot of wind noise at 70mph (or 80, on the péage in France) – and a lot of petrol, so we travel sedately at 60mph, which the newly working rev. counter tells me is just 2,500rpm.

A splendid lunch at the Good Pub Guide recommended “Cock Inn” near Glyndebourne, watching little crowds gather to examine Tippecanoe sitting modestly in the shade of an oak tree while we eat our venison burgers. Then the last few miles to be one of the first in the car park at Glynbourne. One of the staff commented that he is the most handsome car that they’ve ever had there! It’s hard to drag ourselves free of the questioning to get the picnic site established on the lawn, in a position that we know will still be in the sun during the dinner interval, and then changed into our formal togs.

What a wonderful production of “Billy Budd”! Very moving and a work that has us discussing 24 hours later the dilemma for poor Captain Vere (“Starry Vere”, his crew call him) having “no option” but to hang Billy, who he knows is pure goodness for, in his frustration when his stammer prevents him denying a false accusation, he accidentally kills Claggart, the personification of evil. He knows that Billy will go to heaven, but what will his own fate be when he gets to the judgement seat?

People are kind, letting us break into the four or five streams of cars converging on the queue to leave the car park at the end. They are always kind to Tippecanoe. Just as well, as the headlights are dim, the windows have all misted up and It’s really difficult to see out! That is compounded, once on the tiny road leading away from the opera house; a car coming the other way blinds me and I am alarmed, knowing that the road is only just wide enough for the two of us. I come to a standstill.

Once on the main road things are better although still I decide that high beam helps vision less than the Toyota lights when dipped, so I leave that little red warning light on the dash to glow.

We travel a bit faster on the return, far away bed beaconing powerfully. And when we get home, those two very narrow, non aligned, awkward arches to back between to get into the garage. Haremi shouts warnings if disaster looms and we manage – and lock up.

A great day out for us and for Tippecanoe who is a real star, as always.


Posted in Cars, Tippecanoe