How To Turn A Studebaker Into The Most Expensive Car Ever Made: Dip It In 24KGold

Awhile back, I wrote about the extravagant 1917 St. Louis auto show and some of the fine automobiles on display such as offerings from the Ben Hur Motor Company.  That auto show included another noteworthy and opulent entry, a gold-plated car that was, at that point in time, the most expensive ever built. 

The car was a Studebaker Series 18 seven passenger touring car with a Victoria top and a 6-cylinder engine, and it must have been an absolute vision in gold and white.  The chassis was gold plated as were the other metal parts including the radiator, springs, lamps, wheel hubs, door handles and running boards.  The body was gold and glistening white enamel.  The Victoria top was made of the finest white leather with gold brackets.  The upholstery was also white leather.  The steering column, clutch, accelerator, emergency brake and other metal parts inside the car were also coated in gold.  Even the speedometer was white with gold numbers.

 In total, 400 ounces of 24-karat gold were used to gild the stunning Studebaker, and that much gold was valued at more than $30,000 in 1917.   The Detroit News-Tribune effused, “That Croesus chariot – the golden car –  gleams its prosperous presence behind a gold railing,”  and it did draw a crowd.  The floor of the display was covered with a rich velour, and on top of that sat on a huge French plate mirror. The Studebaker was parked on the mirror which reflected the chassis construction.

After touring the United States, the gold car went overseas, heavily guarded and even more heavily insured. After traversing the globe, the car was delivered back to South Bend, Indiana, via Pacific Mail steamer in 1919.  It was reported that, “For the benefit of all posterity it will henceforth repose in all its golden splendor in the famous museum maintained by the Studebaker corporation at South Bend.” So is it still there? Perhaps someone from the museum can weigh in . . . .

Packard Hood Ornaments by Year – the 1950s

I hear from many people seeking help with the identification of Packard hood ornaments, so I have started putting together a guide. I have begun with the Packards of the 1950s, which you will find below. If you are looking for the 1940s or earlier, either check back here later or heed Packard’s slogan and “ask the man who owns one.”


Packard Super Series and Packard Custom Series

Packard Eight Series
Optional Golden Anniversary “Egyptian” hood ornament


400 and 300 series
200 Series


Patrician 400, 300, Mayfair, Convertible
200 Series


Mayfair, Convertible, Cavalier, Patrician, Custom


Cavalier, Convertible, Pacific


Patrician, 400




Packard Hood Ornaments by Year – 1940s

1918 Republic Truck

This fantastic old truck is a 1918 Republic, and it was part of the annual Old Trusty Antique & Collectors Show in Clay Center, Nebraska:

By the time 1918 rolled around, the Republic plant in Alma, Michigan, was the largest in the world devoted exclusively to the manufacture of motor trucks. With a thousand distributors in the United States and representatives in other countries as well, Republic had already sold 25,000 trucks throughout the United States and beyond. The company was continuing to expand and set an ambitious goal of 40,000 new trucks to be manufactured in 1918.

The Republic line included seven models of trucks in varying capacities to suit every business, and for every conceivable kind of hauling. This ad has pictures of those seven models, the Dispatch, 3/4-Ton, 1-Ton, 1-1/2 Ton, 2-Ton, 3-1/2 Ton and 5-Ton.

In addition to the dependability of the Republic-Torbensen Internal Gear Drive, Republic also advertised that their truck frames were built stronger, in proportion to size, than a railroad bridge:

Republic struggled in the years after the war and eventually merged with American LaFrance in 1929, so this well-preserved 1918 model is really representative of the company’s heyday.


Jaquith Motor Co. Advertisement. The Daily Argus Leader [Sioux Falls], 8 Mar 1918, p. 7.

Prough Bros. Advertisement. Bakersfield Morning Echo, 8 Sept 1918, p. 4.

“Republic Motor Truck Company Give Alma World Wide Fame.” Lansing State Journal, 15 Oct 1917, p. 13.

“Truck Firms Unite.” The Pittsburgh Press, 21 April 1929, p.5.