Classic Car Returning to City
By Mina Corpuz
FITCHBURG -- The Goodwin family’s evergreen 1941 Studebaker Champion hasn’t been seen around the city in nearly 25 years.
But after two years of looking, the four brothers tracked down their father’s long-lost car near Toronto, Canada and plan to share the vehicle again with their family and Fitchburg.
“The next generation will get a chance at it,” said Kim Goodwin.
Their father, Bill, owned the car from 1964 to 1996 when the family lived by Caswell and Blossom streets.
All of the brothers rode in the car and drove their families in it.
“We all grew up in it,” said Dana Goodwin, who now lives in New Ipswich, N.H.
He and his brothers remember going to classic car shows with their father and taking family road trips.
The car was also part of Fourth of July parades in the city and around the region that the boys rode in it as passengers.
In one year, the Studebaker participated in four parades back to back, Dana said.
Belle Heald of Pepperell was the car’s original owner. Their father ran grocery errands for her family while he was in high school.
After Heald died in the 1960s, a lawyer from the family contacted Bill Goodwin to let him know she left him the Studebaker to him.
Bill eventually sold the car after it had been sitting around in the garage unused, the brothers said.
At the time, the Goodwin brothers weren’t in a place to buy the car, but later on they wished they did.
They had an emotional connection to the Studebaker, Dana said.
“Somewhere along the line some of us pined for the car wishing we didn’t sell it,” he said.
In 2017, Dana was on a work trip and went to the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Ind., a colleague who owned a Studebaker.
He saw a car that looked similar to his father’s and wondered where the car ended up.
After the trip, the colleague sent Dana a clip from the “Cruisin’ New England” classic cars show on the New England Sports Network. A man on the episode was talking about a 1941 Studebaker Champion that looked like the Goodwin car.
Through research and help from his colleague, Dana was able to contact the man, who said he sold the car to another man in Canada.
That owner was planning to restore the car, but didn’t get along to it. He was willing to sell it especially when he learned that the brothers had been searching for the car, Dana said.
They all drove eight hours to Canada on Palm Sunday and confirmed it was their car.
It included documentation, including a check made by their mother and a message under the hubcaps: “If lost call (Nancy) Goodwin with their phone number.”
Other than a few dings, the car is in good condition, Dana said. They were able to start it in Canada.
The new owner installed a radio and antenna in it, he said, and the brothers will likely take that out.
“It’s like repainting the Mona Lisa,” Dana said.
The car cleared U.S. Customs on Friday and is expected to be delivered to Dana in New Hampshire on Monday.
In Canada, Kim took a picture with his brothers and the car which his wife, Joan, who is director of the Senior Center, posted on Facebook.
Residents commented on it with memories about the Studebaker and were happy that they found it, he said.
Lin Goodwin added that people have emailed him about the car too.
The brothers still have the car’s original license plate that says “Good 41” in green.
Todd Goodwin said the plate is a play on their family’s name and to represent the four brothers.
He found the plate among their father’s items more than a decade ago.
Todd remembered how his father liked to talk about old cars even before he got the Studebaker.
Continuing with that tradition, Todd, who is a storyteller, set up a website to tell stories about the Studebaker and other cars their family has had.
The stories can be found at www.good41.com .
Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz