Project Car Hell: Studebaker Dictator or Otas 820?

Yesterday, we had what may be our closest Project Car Hell vote yet, with the '91 Jaguar XJ-S holding a 199 to 194 lead over the Toronado-ized Dune Buggy in yesterday's Legends of LeMons Choose Your Eternity poll. I'd say that counts as a tie, and- try to follow the logic here- that means we need to do away with the unifying theme for today's entrants. You want a project that's so cool you wake up in the middle of the night just feeling happy that you own it, yet wake up screaming an hour later as you realize that the price to finish the project is your immortal soul!


The Ford Mainline has a cool name, as does the Packard Patrician. Oh, sure, you can find all manner of old American vehicles with cool names, but we challenge you to find one that measures up to the Studebaker Dictator (OK, gauntlet thrown down, get busy with the names). Studebaker Dictator! Try saying it a few times. Take it for a spin around the block, see what you think. Of course, taking the name around the block will have to suffice for now, because this 1938 Studebaker Dictator (go here if the ad disappears) looks better suited for a drag- or maybe a scrape- around the block. But it's only $1,000. That's right, just a grand and you could be the proud owner of your own 60-year-old Dictator. You'll feel like Francisco Franco, only with mistresses and minus the brutality, as you cruise the boulevard in this fine Stude. Naturally, the seller says nothing about its condition, but you pretty much have to figure on fixing everything with a project like this, so any description in the ad would have been a waste of time. Supercharged 289? Why, of course- money is no object!

That Dictator looks like a strong contender, so we're going to break out the big guns from one of the PCH Superpowers here. Yes, the reigning PCH Intergalactic Superpower, Italy! And not just some sort of ordinary Alfa or X-1/9; no, we need a low-production Italian specialty vehicle, preferably based on a notoriously unreliable chassis. The OTAS 820 meets those criteria quite nicely, but is it even possible to find one within spittin' distance of the Dictator's price tag? Sure it is- just take a gander at this 1968 OTAS 820, which is priced at just $2,700 (or a dollar per rust hole). The seller says "THIS CAR IS MISSING THE ENGINE LID, REAR BUMPER, AND REAR EMBLEM," which means endless days of scouring the globe for OTAS parts, before you finally give up and have your local fabrication shop turn terrifying amounts of your cash into the missing pieces. But don't worry, because "EVERYTHING ELSE SEEMS TO BE THERE, EXCEPT WHAT THE RUST MONSTER HAS EATEN." The Rust Monster is always hungry for Italian food, even in California! Don't think of the negatives, though; just imagine this rear-engined Italian thoroughbred wailing through the turns on a picturesque mountain road, with you at the wheel. Of course, you might be 78 years old by that time, but it will all have been worth it.

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