What do you get when you mix one police-spec Studebaker Commander with a 500hp Chev and eight years’ hard work? One tough Stude, of course.
When I think of a commander I think of strength (at times in the face of adversity), power, order, guts and glory, certainly not Studebakers. I had a think about it and took a good look at what’s out there being modified and came to a conclusion: Studebakers are custom cars sitting still. Some cars look menacing sitting still, some cars look ugly sitting still. But Studebakers, well, they look like they’re waiting. Waiting for an owner to bring out their true spirit, that custom car spirit; I’ll stick my neck out here and say that rodding spirit. Their owners are like Mopar fans, an eclectic bunch who probably believe that if it’s not a Studebaker, it’s just a bread baker.
Kimball Thomson is a collector, he likes Studebakers, and parked in his garage amongst other models he has a totally cool 1964 Studebaker Commander. This particular Commander started life as a police cruiser, and after an extensive eight-year body-off rebuild by the previous owner in Melbourne, it was purchased by Kimball when he spotted it at a car show. But it wasn’t a straightforward sale. “The owner originally didn’t want to sell it. I wanted this one, it said something the others I looked at didn’t have.” The sale was eventually concluded and the latest addition was imported into New Zealand in 2009 to become part of Kimball’s collection.