Simple Green – Todd Markuson’s Low-Mileage, Back-to-Basics ’60 Studebaker Lark
“It’s good to be different!”
That simple quote perfectly sums up the fundamental appeal of Todd Markuson’s ’60 Studebaker Lark, an offbeat ride with a charm that only grows when you learn it has fewer miles on it than most two-year-old cars. “The low-mile originality of the ‘Gumby Green’ orphan Stude makes people smile and appreciate it everywhere it’s shown,” Todd says.
Todd tells us that he can’t take credit for the car’s build (we’ll touch more on that in a minute), but he was smart enough to snatch it up and become its caretaker after discovering it for sale online a few years ago. “I purchased the Stude off Craigslist,” Todd says. “Flew from Minnesota to New Orleans with a pile of $100 bills, looked the car over while the seller counted the money, jumped on Highway 10 and drove 900 miles to Naples, Florida – 85mph with A/C on and never skipped a beat!”
The purchase made Todd the third owner of the compact classic, and he’s happy to recount the car’s interesting history. “The Stude was purchased from an estate sale in Oklahoma with 7,000 original miles on it and ended up at Southside Rods and Restoration in Zanesville, Ohio for its transformation,” Todd says. “I purchased the Stude from Keith Fox with 19,000 miles on it and it currently sits at 23,000 miles.”
The transformation Todd references was done with the goal of preserving the car’s cosmetic originality while improving its ride and drivability. Key modifications included a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II-based front frame stub with rack-and-pinion steering and Wilwood disc brakes, along with a 9-inch rearend suspended by coil-overs. Combined with 18- and 20-inch Billet Specialties wheels and Sumitomo 215/40/18 and 255/35/20 tires, Todd says the little Lark “sticks to the road like a Ferrari.”
It doesn’t take a lot of power to get a pint-sized cruiser like this moving – the 300hp GM crate engine is more than enough to make it fun. Basics like a Holley carb, ceramic-coated Speedway Motors exhaust manifolds, and an aluminum radiator help, as does the stainless exhaust and Flowmaster mufflers. It’s all packaged in a basic, no-frills manner and backed by a 4L60E automatic transmission built by Gearstar.
While the body was left original, the Southside Rods team did repaint it using PPG materials in the stock Studebaker Oasis Green hue. The bumpers have also been smoothed and replated, though the stainless and other brightwork is all original.
Like many compacts of its era, the Studebaker was originally ordered with few options – not even a radio or cigarette lighter. A Vintage Air climate control system and IDIDIT tilt column topped with a Billet Specialties wheel have added a little more comfort for long drives. The upholstery and trim remain original, though. And a fun fact about these Studebakers is the optional reclining front seat – each seatback could recline until flat, effectively creating a bed when combined with the back seat. It was a great feature for long-distance travel, or for date nights.
The blend of original charm and well-executed updates help make this compact classic quirky, cute and, most of all, fun. Those qualities aren’t lost on Todd – he’s having a ball driving and showing it off. Like he said, it’s good to be different – especially when different looks this good.
Photos by John Jackson