This is what we worked so hard to get to, the Charlotte meet of SDC.  We had driven the Wagonaire to the South Bend, IN, meet in 2002, but didn't make the Sacramento meet in 2003.  Charlotte was as close as a national meet was going to be to our house for many years to come, so this was where we had to be.  With less than 100 miles on the truck, it wasn't practical to even consider driving it 850 miles to Charlotte.   Besides, there is no room inside for anything but the passengers.  My wife Jane expressed happiness that we could travel in the spacious, air-conditioned comfort of our Ford Expedition with the M5 behind us.  I rented a trailer from U-Haul, loaded up the M5, and we were off.  Our outbound leg took us from Massachusetts, through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and down the eastern shore of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.  We spent a couple of nights near Ocean City, MD visiting family, then went through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Norfolk, VA.

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On the trailer at home.

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The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula.

Arriving in Charlotte at the meet hotel, we off-loaded the M5, stashed the trailer, and settled in to enjoy Studebakers, club members, and the city of Charlotte.  All proved worthy of the trip.  We spent a day getting the M5 washed and polished after its trip in the rain and dust.  We parked Igor in the truck section of the display area next to an M16 flatbed truck and near some other M trucks.  On concourse day, nearly every truck and car was bright and shiny.  There were a few "survivors" that wore their years and battle scars proudly.  A display is always better with a wide range of cars that include un-restored, original examples.

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The judges inspect the M5 while I attend hopefully in my "Mighty M" tee shirt.

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A row of trucks at Charlotte including (l. to r.) a red '60s Champ, a tan 2R5, my M5, a green M16 flat bed, Bob Belling's red 4x4 Transtar flatbed. 

The displays included modified and custom cars and trucks, as well as stock models.   On the Friday evening after the concourse, we attended the awards banquet.  We were fortunate to win a 2nd place award for the M5 in its class.  A few minor items separated us from a first place finish, but I think we did very well.  Many other attendees at the show enjoyed seeing the M5, and quite a few of them had followed the tales of the restoration on these pages and on Internet postings at and at Studebaker Truck Talk.  It was great to meet people that I had exchanged emails with over many years.

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A former Bell Telephone M5 from Oklahoma - a real survivor!

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A fabulous 1938 Coupe-Express model next to a white stretch limo version of a 2R truck.

On the Friday following the concourse, an event was held at the Mooresville 1/8th mile drag strip, about 30 miles from Charlotte.  We brought Igor to the drags even though it had only 100 miles on the engine.  I took a few runs solo, then staged against a couple of other cars and trucks.  I had hardly let the clutch out more than a few times before this adventure, so a trip down a drag strip was a real challenge.

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The M5 faces Rick Courtier's C-cab truck.  Rick went easy on me.

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A no-prisoners run against a hot '53 coupe.   I won't pretend that the M5 made a decent showing against this car.  His engine was SO LOUD that I couldn't even gauge my shift points.

Now before anyone gets too excited at the prospects of a hot running M5 at a drag strip, the results showed that the M5 turned 43.5 mph in a 15.92 second run for the 1/8th mile strip.  Just for comparison, Ted Harbit and his famous "Chicken Hawk" running a 289 with dual superchargers turned 105 mph in 7.00 seconds that day.  The M5 isn't fast, but it has heart!

On our way back to Massachusetts, we headed north from Charlotte through Virginia.   We made a slight detour to the east to follow the 105 mile Skyline Drive through the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.  We pulled the M5 to altitudes of nearly 3700 feet and looked out over the valley of the Shenandoah River.

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Finally, we got home.  We traveled through 10 states and more than 2000 miles on our trip.  The M5 is complete, all parts in place, and fully functional.  The story isn't over, though.  It's just beginning.  Where do we go from here?   What places will we visit?  I have no idea, except that it will be fun, we'll meet new people, and share the Studebaker story with anyone who will listen.

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