1916 6 Cylinder Studebaker

Queensland motorsport history on show at RACQ House.

Gavin Mutton’s 1916 6 Cylinder Studebaker (Series 17) encapsulates a brief, but colourful and exciting, era in Queensland motorsport going back more than a century.

It was a time when powerful cars and their daring drivers participated in time trials along beaches, raced up Mt Coot-tha and set speed records between capital cities.

In what was Australia’s first officially-timed speed trial, the Studebaker (then owned by Canada Cycle Motor in Brisbane) took on Edward Eager’s Overland from the Spit to

Burleigh Heads. The 1912 Indianapolis 500 winner, a National, was also scheduled to compete, but an accident travelling to the event put paid to its appearance.

Despite tyre slippage on the soft beach conditions, the Studebaker with its 6.0-litre engine and three-speed non-synchro manual gearbox managed to win at 85mph (136km/h), half a mile per hour faster than Eager’s Overland.

The Studebaker went on to also set the record between Brisbane and Sydney before an accident at the Mt Coo-tha hill climb bent the chassis, putting an end to its racing career. Its mechanicals ended up driving a corn harvester before being acquired by Gavin. 

“The missing parts needed to complete the car’s restoration have come from the remains of other Studebakers,” he said. “The correct casting numbers have been maintained in nearly all parts. The effort has been to refurbish, not to replace. The vehicle still uses its original white metal engine bearings.

“The reconstruction represents the Studebaker as it was known on the Sydney/Brisbane record run and when displayed in the CCM showroom (corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets).”

See this remarkable piece of Queensland motorsport history and read all about its story up close on display at RACQ House, 60 Edward Street, Brisbane CBD until March 23.