The AHPS Award at Muscle Car
and Corvette Nationals 2018

George Krem's 1963 Studebaker Lark R-3 is the ultimate "sleeper" and he's owned it since new!

The Society had a great time at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) in Rosemont IL, last week. Just checking out all the wonderful performance cars and classics is so worthwhile that we'd suggest you take a trip to the Chicago area and check it out.

One of the wonderful things we get to do at MCACN is grant an award on behalf of the Society. Since this was the first year of this wonderful opportunity, Kurt Shubert, Society President, and Bob Gerometta, Chief Archivist and Operations Director, teamed up on setting some criteria for what the Society should select.

The first thought was to pick something rather unique that characterized the history of the automobile. Of course, we were at a "muscle car" show, so here performance was a big part of whatever we would need to select.

Now you know, most of the awards would be granted to cars you all see as your "daily bread" in the muscle car world – Mustangs, Camaros, Hemi Mopars, Corvettes, and such.

Our thought was that while some of these cars are rare and coveted, unique would not cover them. Others were unique, but they were almost one-offs that likely were the spawn of the various engineering programs or designed to allow competition in drag or road racing.

What we were looking for was a car that might be known, but barely, and one that John Q. Public could have or would have bought.

Thus, in our meandering through the hundreds of beautiful pieces of automotive art, a few potential winners were noticed: the 1969 AMC Sc/Rambler, the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine, a 1963 Olds Cutlass Jetfire Turbo in barn find condition, and some various odd-ball combos of already famous makes and models. The Olds W-31 qualified under our criteria, but they were an invitational brand for this event and 12 of them were in attendance and would already receive a ton of awards.

But what caught our eye was a bunch of Studebaker Larks sporting a "R" on their grille or flanks. The Studebaker club had brought a bunch of performance cars to the event – and the R version predominated.

What does the "R" signify? Well, for those that don't know, Studebaker considered itself a mini performance brand once it introduced its own V-8 in 1951, making it one of only 4 brands to offer OHV V-8 power that year (Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Chrysler being the others).

Since that date, Studebaker Commanders and Presidents were only V-8 powered and after its introduction in 1951 at 232 CID, the Studebaker V-8 went through some iterations: an ultra-short stroke 224 CID version, a 259 CID performance model, and finally a 289 CID version.

Believe it or not, Studebaker even designed and built a twin overhead cam version to compete in the Indy 500. Click here to read about it!:

The problem Studebaker faced was an early decision to keep the engine size small to fit in what we would consider mid-sized cars today. Thus, at 289 CID, that was about the size limit . . .

Click Here to read More about Studebaker and Performance!

Check out this back in the day road test of the Lark R-3 from Hot Rod Magazine

This brings us to our AHPS award choice – the 1963 Studebaker Lark R-3 owned by George Krem – who has owned it from NEW! If you don't believe that an R-3 was potent – this car, called "Plain Brown Wrapper", has defeated over 80% of the super performance cars it has raced in the Pure Stock Drags, running on average in the 12.80s!

Picking the Plain Brown Wrapper allows us to tell the story of not only the car, but the history of Studebaker and performance – and that in and of itself, makes it worthy of our award.


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