When Stephen was a teenager in the mid 1970’s, he and his father decided that it would be fun to get into restoring and collecting antique cars as a hobby. Still owning the blue ’51 Champion that was purchased as a second family car in 1960, they decided that Studebakers would be the brand they focused on.
Over the next couple of decades, the hobby became a large part of Stephen’s life and the family’s collection was up to a few dozen Studebakers, ranging from the brass era to the end of production. In the early 1990’s, a large inventory of parts became available. Stephen jumped in and went for it, thinking that it would be a good idea to have extra parts on hand to maintain the family’s cars, as well as a business venture focused on something he enjoined.
In 1992, Stephen Allen’s opened its doors for business. The first warehouse was a tobacco barn in Alachua, Florida. In 1997, operations were moved to nearby Newberry, where an insulated warehouse was built to house the ever-growing inventory. The business thrived until the end of 2007, when Stephen decided that after fifteen years of selling parts, it was time for a change.
As the next decade followed, Stephen focused his efforts volunteering for various charities and assistance groups that provided support and aide to active and local military veterans. While he was still involved with his Studebaker hobby, doing his part to help out those that served became his primary focus.
Fast forward to the 2015 International SDC Meet in St. Louis. While wandering through the swap meet, Stephen asked one of the vendors if he would like to sell out, thinking that his “retirement” had been long enough. The vendor thought it over for about a half an hour, gave Stephen a price for everything, and Stephen Allen’s was reborn.
Stephen Allen’s has two other full-time employees, Danny and Matt. Danny started working at the store in 1998, and while he wasn’t a car guy, he was keen on modern technology and was able to computerize the inventory and build a website. Over the next decade, he learned to be proficient at interpreting the parts books and became a knowledgable Studebaker parts salesman. In the year 2000, he became a Studebaker owner himself, having acquired a ’47 Land Cruiser, which he still owns.
When Stephen was working out the details with the vendor in St. Louis, the first phone call he made was to Danny, asking if he wanted to do it all over again. Just over a month later, Danny was on his way to Nebraska to load up the inventory. The same warehouse that housed the store previously was filled with new shelving and with a lot of time and work, the business started taking shape.
In January of 2017, Stephen called Matt and invited him to drive to Pittsburgh to look at an inventory that was available. Thinking that digging through a barn full of parts in snowy, four degree Pennsylvania weather was “his kind of fun”, Matt started working for the business a month later. Though being a young guy in the hobby at not-quite 30 years old, he did grow up in a Studebaker-owning family and never strayed too far from the brand, making sure to always have a Studebaker of some sort around. He currently drives and maintains a ’51 Land Cruiser.
Since 2015, the inventory has grown to nearly 20,000 different items. In addition to having your normal array of parts to keep your Studebaker on the road, Stephen Allen’s has made it a goal to provide fellow enthusiasts with parts that can’t be found elsewhere. Parts stashes have been purchased that were hidden in barns and attics for five decades, and one of the larger inventories originated from a factory parts outlet in Morocco, Africa. Stephen Allen’s also does its part to fill the void on reproduction items as well, having produced many items from rubber seals and chrome headlight bezels, to switches and gas tanks.
Stephen still owns the ’51 Champion, and he, Danny, and Matt do their part to keep Studebakers on the road. We’re in the parts business because we enjoy the cars and the people that own them, plain and simple. We own, drive, and restore Studebakers ourselves, and we’ll do our best to help with your hobby any way we can!