Rapid City man shares the story behind his unique Studebaker car

Published: Jul. 9, 2017 at 6:38 PM MDT
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At the Cruiser Car show in downtown Rapid City, nearly every hot rod had a personal story behind it.

Black Hills FOX Reporter Katrina Lim takes a closer look at the history of one particular car and its owner.

Craig Dahlke says, "Yeah, it (the car) sure does. Sometimes I'll just go out and sit in it out in the garage and think about my grandpa."

Craig Dahlke inherited this personalized 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe from his Grandpa Mike.

Craig Dahlke says, "I had it sitting for about 20 years while I raised my family and then I started working on it. Now I've got it working to where I can drive and enjoy it. Take it to a car show or two."

Katrina Lim says, "On and off, it took Dahlke about 15 years to finish this 1951 Studebaker, and one of the modifications he made to it, was adding this pool ball as a suicide knob to help him steer the vehicle."

Dahlke says his grandfather loved tinkering around with the Studebaker.

One of the features his grandfather added was this handmade propeller.

It's made out of two chain saw blades and hooked on to a motor.

Mike used to drive the car and spin the propeller during parades, and Dahlke says the propeller still works today.

Craig Dahlke says, "I do everything myself on it. I did redo the interior, the wiring, and a few other things to make it so it's functional and reliable on the road."

It's been nearly 28 years since grandpa Mike passed away.

Craig says when he sits in the car, it brings back old memories.

Craig Dahlke says, "Some of the phrases and stuff, I'd sometimes think about what he might be saying on a hot day like this and he would maybe be holding his pop or his beer. It would be empty and he'd tell one of the grandkids, he'd say, 'Boy it sure is thirsty out here,' trying to hint to them to go get him another drink."

Dahlke says he loves seeing old and young folks get a kick out of his car.

Jack Shankle says, "I think that it's a very nice touch the propeller. I think it's really cool. I've never seen a Studebaker car in real life before and I like that they have a story posted on it. I just thought that was pretty neat."

The Cruiser Car Show also featured many other classic hot rods, newer exotic cars, and colorful trucks.

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