Surprise of the year

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Little did we know when we photographed this car on June 3, 2013 that we’d be bringing it home to Iola on June 3, 2014.

Little did we know when we photographed this car on June 3, 2013 that we’d be bringing it home to Iola on June 3, 2014.

The other night we realized that 2015 will be the 60th year of the ’55 Chevy so we decided to write an article honoring six generations of the first of the “Tri-Five” Chevys. After gathering facts about ’55 Chevy history, we started looking through the 560 photo files on our desktop computer for ’55 Chevy images.

We’d guess that each photo file has an average of 100 photos in it, so we’re talking about scanning 56,000 photos! Of course, we didn’t expect to find ’55 Chevy photos in files named “1932 Ford” or “1970 Dodge Charger.” The best bets for finding the pictures we needed were photo files from car shows or museums in which many different types of cars were photographed.

Surprisingly, we did not find a lot of photos of ’55 Chevys, so we kept looking far down the list of files. That’s where we came across pictures we had taken at the Volo Auto Museum (, in Volo, Ill., on June 3, 2013. We had been at the Volkswagen Funfest ( in Effingham, Ill., and had made plans to stop at the Volo Auto Museum on the way home. Volo had a 1924 Oakland touring car on consignment and we had been working on a deal with its owner to trade an Indian motorcycle for the Oakland.

While we were at Volo we drove the Oakland, toured the museum and took photos of many of the cars they had. No, they did not have any ’55 Chevys that we photographed. But, we did photograph a car that turned out to be a big surprise when we scanned through the photo file from the Volo trip.

The car was a 1949 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe that my son wound up buying last spring. According to dates on the images, we brought the car home a year to the day from when we visited Volo. At the time, the Studebaker was in the possession of a man who sold cars at Volo. Little did we know that the Starlight Coupe was destined to become a “family member.”

Apparently, the police chief of Libertyville, Ill., had purchased the car in Mississippi about 30 years ago. It had a stuck “Big Six” engine and the chief hoped to restore it with his son. Like many car projects, this one sat for three decades. After we bought the ca,r we yanked the drive train out. The engine is now being rebuilt and we have gathered all the parts we need from Egge Equipment ( and RPM Motorsports (

The budget is tight and we don’t know exactly how much of the car we’ll restore, but at least the drive train will be good and operable by the time we’re finished. So, the car is getting the most attention it’s had in a good long time. We’re looking forward to the day we can turn the key and drive it down the road.

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