Steve and Margie Fowler found their 1935 Packard in 1998 rusting peacefully in a field in Napa, Calif., near where they lived at the time. Margie thought Steve was nuts, but let him buy it to keep him out of mischief.
They took it all apart, de-rusted it with elbow grease, spliced on a Pinto front suspension and a Maverick rear end, then installed a 1990 Chevy police car engine and overdrive trans. The seating came from a Subaru wagon.
Margie upholstered the entire interior while Steve repaired the damaged sheet metal and did all prep work for its final coat of paint, which was applied by a local car painter.
Equipped with air conditioning, cruise control and a good stereo, the car has been driven all over the western United States, and now has about 30,000 nearly-trouble-free miles.
Margie now claims it as hers, as Steve has his own classic Studebaker.
1953 Studebaker Hardtop - Fowlers
Steve Fowler had a Stude of the same year and model when he was young, and always wanted another.
In 2001 he finally had the chance to realize his dream when he found a clean, stock 6-cylinder version in Sacramento.
Wanting more power and the ability to travel fast and long, he outfitted the car with a Fatman front suspension, an 8-inch Ford rear, a 1989 Corvette 350 engine and overdrive transmission, hydroboost brakes, a Nova column, a ’56 Stude Hawk dash, Vintage Air A/C and a Hidden Audio radio and 12-disc changer.
He and his wife, Margie, found a late-’80s T-bird interior, modified it to fit, and then Margie upholstered the interior.
Meanwhile, Steve cleaned up the body with a nose, deck and shave job, then painted it bright red in a jury-rigged spray booth.
The Fowlers can proudly say that they did it all by themselves, and have since put nearly 20,000 miles on it travelling all over the western United States in “Low ’N Red.”