nutS & boltS
Old truck perks up java fans 1952 Studebaker converted into a mobile espresso shop By Dan Sorenson ARIZONA DAILY STAR
It started out as a junkyard-bound pile of rusty Studebaker bones and ended up as a mobile temple of classic Italian espresso drinks in Oro Valley.
Some come for the coffee, and some come to ogle the truck parked on the front apron of the Oro Valley Fry's Food & Drug Store, 10661 N. Oracle Road. The steam-powered soul of Elixer Coffee Solutions rests on a 1952 Studebaker 2R5 pickup truck frame. There's something for both crowds.
Co-owners Charlie Panipinto and Rene'e Wold did some heavy thinking before they tried to jump into the competitive coffeehouse business nearly four years ago.
Wold was then a barista at Raging Sage, 2458 N. Campbell Ave., a locally owned coffeehouse. Panipinto was her would-be business partner, a former aerospace technician, lover of Italian motor- cycles and all-around gear-head. He scribbled designs for a mobile coffee rig on napkins while hanging out on the Raging Sage patio.
Eventually, the daydreaming moved from paper to steel. Panipinto started by restoring a 1952 Studebaker pickup that caught his eye, a stunningly simple distillation of buxom post-World War II U.S. automotive design - just before it was abandoned for the fin and chrome riot of the late 1950s.
He removed the rust, replaced the rotted rubber, rebuilt the worn parts and reupholstered the inte- rior. Finally, he painted the heavy steel a creamy beige.
But not everyone appreciated what came next, Panipinto says.
He removed the former heap's cargo box and replaced it with a chromed plate-steel platform with its own water and electrical system, refrigerated glass cases and a hot-rodded 1968 three-head Fu- turema espresso machine. After roughly 18 months of building and modifying the design to meet Pima County Health Department requirements, Wold and Panipinto started looking for a place to park the rig.
They decided the Northwest Side was underserved when it came to quality espresso drinks. They negotiated a deal with Fry's, slightly predating the Starbucks-in-the-grocery-store trend.
And just in case there was any doubt about their market hunch, within a few weeks of opening, a Starbucks moved in a couple hundred feet to the north, just across First Avenue.
It's fashionable for longtime caffeine fiends to scorn Starbucks, but Panipinto and Wold temper their criticism.
For one thing, Panipinto says, Starbucks turned a lot of Maxwell House gulpers into espresso sip- pers.
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nutS & boltS
When we did finally get back to Mike’s we discovered the one brace on my trailer had broken, so we spent the rest of the day repairing that. On Sunday we decided to swing back through Surfside and see Richard Loskill to pick up his 51 Studebaker truck that needs some repair. The truck has an interesting problem. He was driving the truck on occasion and after letting it sit for about two weeks the engine froze solid. Won’t budge a fraction. I’m anxious to tear it down to see what happened. A trip to the low country would not be complete without visiting the supreme commander, Del Kalal. We stopped to see him and unfortunately he was sick with a cold. He promised to be better by the next meet.
Don’t forget that this months event is an overnight adventure in Surfside Beach. More details are in the newsletter.
On a sad note, I got a phone call from my friend Ernie Padgett of the North Carolina club the other night. Gene Sunding passed away in early February. Gene was a member of the NC club but I’m sure many of our SC members know him. Apparently he was on vacation and contacted the flu or some type of condition similar to what the Pope had. He ended up getting very sick and passing away. Gene was one of the first people I had meet in the Studebaker Club over 20 years ago and was a good man and will be missed. For those who can’t place him he had the 1962 GT Hawk, blue with a white top that was usually at the Tri-State meets.
That’s about all for now, hope to see all of you at the York Swap meet and then at our meet at the beach.
Thru the Side Mirror
Balance transferred Dec. 31,2004
Balance as of January 31,2005
Respectfully submitted, Jackie Simpson, Treasurer
June 4: Meet to be sponsored by John & Sheila Dusky at Spartanburg, SC, includes mystery tour with prizes.
( Please note I can only have June meet on June 4, not the second weekend of June 11 because I have a commitment in New Jersey the following week end. If this date is unacceptable to anyone please see if they will host the meet on June 11.) John