Studebaker collector loses 50 cars in fire

Fire destroyed 50 Studebaker cars in David Walker's collection on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Chesnee, S.C. (Photo courtesy

Fire destroyed 50 Studebaker cars in David Walker’s collection on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Chesnee, S.C. (Photo courtesy

CHESNEE, S.C. – Authorities estimate 50 Studebakers were among items destroyed in a fire at the classic car shop owned by longtime Studebaker Drivers Club member David Walker.

In addition to the cars, Walker said 20 motorcycles, a camper and a tour bus were destroyed. No one was injured in the blaze on Studebaker Road.

The fire broke out around noon Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Walker told news reporters that a catalytic converter caught some grass on fire at about 11:30 a.m. near the large shed and garage where at least 40 classic cars he’s collected over about 50 years were housed on the land where he’s lived all of his life. Walker thought he extinguished the fire with a garden hose. But it ignited leaves in the shed area and quickly spread.

“With the wind blowing, there was nothing I could do but look at it,” Walker said.

According to Cherokee Creek Fire Capt. Billy Bishop, firefighters arrived to find one of the sheds on the property collapsed and a tour bus ablaze. He told news reporters that eventually two of the three buildings at the scene collapsed, making it difficult to extinguish the fire. The cause of the fire, considered accidental, is under investigation.

Walker’s interest in vintage vehicles is well-known in the Studebaker family. There are vintage cars on display inside the Chesnee Bantam Chef, which Walker and his wife, Sandra, have owned for about 45 years and where they still work five days a week.

The SDC forum was abuzz with words of condolence for the Walkers. “David and Sandra are some of the best and hardest working people I know,” wrote John Clary of  Greer, S.C. “Any of you who have been to their restaurant know that they are also one of the classiest and best ambassadors for all things Studebaker.”

Click here for a photo slide show, courtesy FOX news.

To learn more about the Studebaker Drivers Club, visit


4 thoughts on “Studebaker collector loses 50 cars in fire

  1. Rich Davis

    What a tragic loss, glad no one was injured. I only have one car I love and I have had it for over 40 years I could not imagine loosing it or how much it must hurt for you to loose so many. There are some things money can not replace. My thoughts are with you.

    Rich Davis

  2. Mike

    We’ve all been told that “…a catalytic converter caught some grass on fire…” and set a car afire. This is the first time I’ve actually seen proof. I have never believed it—until now. Sad news.

  3. bill brady

    It is tragically ironic that the vehicle that started the fire was not a classic ( it had catalytic convertors} these ridiculous contraptions have caused tens of thousands of fires.Poor guy, i had spoken to him about using cars for a commercial.

  4. Dee Reilly

    My comment is more of an obvious question{or questions};First,what was the catalytic convertor attached to and second,why was it located so closely to dry grass?Not to mention the buildings the Studes were housed in.Sounds to me like older wooden structures that went up like matchbooks as soon as the wind shifted the right{or wrong}way.Tragic!


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