Monday, May 2, 2016
“Dulce Domum,” loosely translated, means “Sweetly at home.” It conveys a sense of comfort, of settlement, of wanting for little. Fittingly, somebody long ago tattooed the phrase on the side of an incredibly well-equipped and preserved 1929 Studebaker house car – complete with toilet, bathtub, and the kitchen sink – that will head to auction later this month.
Though photos of the house car have floated around the Internet since 2009 or so, little is known about its early history. Somebody – possibly Harvey Firestone, though that part is apocryphal – obtained a Studebaker commercial chassis (chassis number 3251731) in its long 184-inch wheelbase version, typically found under buses. Fitted with a 114hp, 337-cu.in. flathead straight-eight, four-speed manual transmission, and dual rear wheels, it had the size and sturdiness to handle a house-car conversion.
Its original owner then took the chassis to Advance Auto Body Works in Los Angeles, the shop that crafted designer W. Everett Miller’s Arrowhead, along with plenty of streamlined gas and oil delivery trucks for Gilmore. Advance then gave it the full Pullman treatment: fold-out beds, wash basin, camp stove, writing desk, chamber pot, plenty of storage, and the bathtub built into the floor under a trap door. A tank and heater provide running water, and a 12-volt electrical system powers the entire vehicle. The conversion even includes an in-car intercom for speaking to the driver.
How long it remained with that original owner – and where it went – seems to remain a mystery, but it remained in Southern California for the next 30 years or so, until collector Remy Baker bought it in 1961 in San Bernardino, then drove it across the country, eventually parking it in his collection in South Carolina. Baker then sold the Studebaker in 2006 to its current owner, who rebuilt the drivetrain and restored the leaded glass windows but left everything else untouched.
Scheduled to cross the block at Worldwide Auctioneers’ Houston Classic Auction, the Studebaker has a pre-auction estimate of $125,000 to $175,000.
The Houston Classic Auction will take place April 23 at La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa in Montgomery, Texas. For more information, visit Worldwide-Auctioneers.com.
One strategy IH adopted to increase sales in those dark days was to enter the light-duty market -- a strategy that would ultimately produce the successful 1937 International C-1 Pickup.
The pressures of time and tight money worked against creating a new design from scratch. The answer came from Willys-Overland. In very unstable financial condition and eager to increase sales of its light trucks, Willys manufactured a modified version of its 1/2-ton C-113 pickup and panel trucks that International marketed as the D-1. Though built in Willys' Toledo, Ohio, plant, the D-1 sported its own radiator and hood styling and used a larger-displacement version of the C-113's six-cylinder engine.
The C-1s vee'd grille gave it an up-to-the-minute look.
now in receivership and its ability to meet International's needs uncertain, IH turned to a successor of its own design.
On the surface, the International C-1 Pickup was a completely new truck. Cab styling was more rounded at the corners, and the old-fashioned windshield visor of the D-1 was done away with. A vee'd aluminum grille with a body-color shell and more-enveloping fenders with skirts at their trailing edges were up-to-the-minute.
The 113-inch wheelbase, 213-cid six, and standard 4.18:1 axle ratio of the D-1 were retained for the new truck, but there were significant mechanical changes to distinguish the C-1 from its predecessor.
A longer 125-inch-wheelbase version of the chassis was added. The propeller shaft gained roller-bearing joints, steering and brake components were enhanced, and there were stronger springs with redesigned shackles. The frame rails were made a half-inch deeper than those used on the D-1.
The C-1's undersquare engine increased output to 78 horsepower from the D-1's 70.
Aside from the horsepower boost, the engine benefited from improved ignition wiring. An L-head design with four main bearings, it used a cast-iron block and solid valve lifters and breathed through a single-throat downdraft carburetor. The engine worked through a three-speed manual transmission activated by a floor-mounted lever.
The 1937 International C-1 Pickup featured more rounded styling.
IH considered its factory-authorized body variations to be options, so most stated prices are for the basic chassis/cowl. But the Standard Catalog of American Light Duty Trucks cites a 1934 price of $545 for a short-wheelbase pickup, which would have been $100 more than the chassis alone. The 125-inch chassis cost $25 more than its shorter counterpart.
The 1937 C-1 also featured hydraulic brakes.
The light-duty truck line proved to be a substantial part of IH's business; in 1936, when production edged past 100,000 -- quite a jump from dismal 1932 -- nearly a third of that total consisted of C-1s. All the while, International was able to hold third place among American truck producers.
The long-wheelbase pickup pictured here is one of the 6,639 C-1s built in 1937 (274 of which came from the Canadian plant). It features 18-inch steel-spoke wheels (though wire wheels were also available) and an extra-cost right-side taillight.