By his own admission, attorney Mark James, of Lancaster County, tends to jump into things whole hog. Since 2013, with the purchase of his first classic automobile, a rare 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk, he’s become a bonafide antique car collector, as well as author.
The Studebaker that launched his passion for “rolling sculptures,” as he describes the beauty of historic cars, made its debut on the classic car scene at the Antique Automobile Club of America’s (AACA) 2014 Western Fall Meet in Big Sky, Montana, after 14 months of meticulous restoration. Since then, Mark, an AACA member, has shown mostly at concours events, racking up numerous awards, and will be competing in Cool Cars for Kids’ second annual Philadelphia Concours d’Elegance on June 16th, at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.
“I was starting to look towards retiring,” said Mark. “I don’t fish or golf, but on my bucket list was to own and show an authentically restored 1950s American car with fins.”
It was during the winter of 2012, while thumbing through the Standard Catalog of American Cars (1946-1975) that Mark came upon a picture of the 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk. From that moment everything snowballed, he said. From that one car, he now has a baker’s dozen, 13 in all, and his interest is in post-war independents, cars manufactured by automakers like Studebaker, Willys, and Hudson.
In addition to his 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk (one of only 878 built, and among 100 known to survive), he has authentically restored a 1956 Golden Hawk, a 1955 Studebaker Speedster, and a 1956 Studebaker President Classic Sedan. “I’m a nut about authenticity and do a lot of research,” he said. “I want to make sure as much as I can that the car is exactly like it was sitting in the dealer’s showroom.”
Studebakers hold a particular fascination with Mark. He immersed himself in the history of the company (founded in 1852 by Clement Studebaker, born in Pinetown, Adams County, Pa., and whose mother was from Lancaster County), the designers, how they made the car, and the colors of the car. He considers himself an expert on the post-war Studebakers and authored his first book Studebakers from 1953 to 1958, with a second book Studebakers from 1962 to 1964 to be published in the fall.
“My whole bias is I want to bring out the car as the designer envisioned it to be,” noted Mark “My angle is they are works of art. I’m not a wrench turner, but I know when I see something beautiful, and I aim to bring out the cars authentic beauty in restoring it 100 percent.”
Come June 16th, attendees to this year’s Philadelphia Concours d’Elegance will be able to see that authentic beauty on full display, and marvel in one man’s passion for rolling sculpture.
Tickets to the June 16th Philadelphia Concours d’Elegance can be purchased online or at the gate. http://www.coolcarsforkids.org/tickets-gala--concours.html