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“They Just Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used To”
While my wife and I were out shopping for some groceries last month, a teenager backed into us with his parents’ SUV. The collision punctured my radiator and caused us to call a tow truck and a cab. I don't think that the kid was doing over 10 MPH when he hit us and although I concede that he was driving a huge SUV, the idea that our little sedan couldn't hold up to a little fender bender like that got me to thinking about my dad and his 1950 Studebaker Commander.

Dad's Commander was a dark maroon tank with 4 doors and a black interior. It didn't exactly fly off the line but once that baby got moving, it was hard to stop it. I loved the suicide doors in the back and its big chrome bumper on the front--otherwise, the car was just a beast with whitewalls.

My father worked second shift at one of the steel mills that used to operate in our area and the Commander was his “daily driver.” Like I said before, it was nothing fancy, but it always got Dad to and from work. Well, one night as he was driving home at speeds well above the posted limit, Dad hit a deer head-on with his beloved Commander.

Now Studebaker made some really classy and elegant vehicles like their Silver Hawk. But the Commander was their workhorse and roughly the equivalent of a Chevy Cavalier or Malibu today. But those modern equivalents just ain’t built the way that Commander was.

I could not tell you the size of the deer that he hit nor how fast he was going, but I can tell you that the Commander's hood was smashed clear up to the windshield. The silver arrow point between the headlights that was Studebaker’s trademark was splattered with blood and the windshield was smashed. That deer was either 500 pounds or Dad was doin' close to 100 when they hit--either way, the Commander was totaled.

But you know what amazes me about that old Studebaker? It got Dad home! It weren't purty or fancy, but that Commander was reliable and built tough enough to protect both Dad and his radiator.

These cars today--are they built for anything other than the junkyard in 10 years?

Larry Hackett
Concord, CA
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