View Full Version : Other: Drivability Question 1949 2R5

07-04-2017, 06:51 PM
Happy 4th of July all!

My wife and I recently traveled to Des Moines to attend the Goodguys Heartland Nationals. While there, she was asking about making the truck we bought this past spring easier for her to drive. She grew up overseas and didn't start driving until she was in her twenties so you can imagine that I end up driving it when we go out and that wasn't the purpose of buying the truck.

So, I have been searching through this forum for transmission swaps, drivetrain swaps basically and anything that does not involve the 350 Chevy. I have nothing against 350 Chevy's, but I have always been a seeker of 'different'. That's how we ended up with a Studebaker. However, I'm now more confused than I was before I started. I have a Buick 350 and 2004r on the shelf that we could put in, but she would like to keep it as close to stock as possible. In a perfect world I would like to stick with the original Studebaker engine and put a modern transmission behind it. Automatic would be preferred but we could make a 5 speed work.

Any and all guidance is appreciated.

07-04-2017, 07:21 PM
i would think that power steering and power brakes would be the first thing i'd look at to make it more driveable for someone used to modern cars - if that's the case.

07-04-2017, 07:31 PM
I am not sure what your wife's country of origin has to do with it, but anyone would have problems jumping behind the wheel of a stock 2R and driving it anywhere. The steering, brakes, suspension and drive train make it little more than a farm implement on today's roads. To make it a realistic driver would require extensive modification. My older brother has a 1949, 2R with extensive mods, and is an excellent driver. But he never got round to PS or automatic tranny, so it still is not as much fun to drive as it could be.

OTOH, my wife, upon arrival from Japan 20 years ago, jumped right behind the wheel of a 63GT, with automatic, PS and PB, and drove it for about 50,000 miles before she wrecked it several years later. I doubt she would have driven a 2R around the block before saying, "no thank you". She currently has another 63GT, but I probably drive it more than she does nowadays, since she bought a Honda Odyssey several years ago.

Maybe you should just look for more drive able Studebaker for your wife :)

07-05-2017, 08:53 AM
or....... and I lean purist by nature..... drop it on a Dodge Durango chassis and fiddle with the steering post and away you go with all modern conveniences......(don't tell them I told you)

07-05-2017, 09:18 AM
My brother's 57 has a 63 Studebaker 289 with power steering added by means of a GM power steering box adapted to the stock beam axle and a tilt column. He has a modern 5 speed manual transmission, but your wife might prefer an overdrive automatic. There are lots of possibilities without destroying the character of the vehicle.

07-05-2017, 09:55 AM
How much do you want to spend and what are your mechanical abilities?

If it was for my wife, I drop it on a Dodge chassis as jackb suggested and she could have all the ability of the Dodge like easy steering, A/C, power brakes etc. The S-10 is also a possibility.

If you what to keep it cleaner, you could think about electric power steering. Google that topic and it will lead you to some posts here on the forum, mainly Jerry Forrester. You have a 2004R so there are adapters to possibly put it on your engine. Again Google is your friend here. If you want to use the Buick 350 with the 2004R you will need to convert to 12 volts at least partially, build mounts, etc but it's just fabrication after the 12 volt conversion.\

OOPs!!! Forgot brakes, I think I'd upgrade them if you plan to drive it a bunch. Traffic was a bit different in 49.

Good Luck, Bob

07-25-2017, 09:50 AM
I suppose a little more detail of what we were looking for would probably help. The original owner took out the column shift lever and linkage. He replaced it with some type of floor shift with a galvanized pipe for a shifter. It works for the wife since she is small, but for me I have to reach under my right leg to shift.

The second issue is for her, shifting correctly is very difficult. Since she didn't learn to drive until ten years ago, and only used a stick for her drivers test, it's not fun for her to drive. Everything else she is okay with. The ride, the steering is tight on this truck and the brakes work great. She is struggling with double clutching.

I was reading about people swapping in different floor shifters to make shifting the stock transmission easier and comfortable to shift, but it looked like a lot of work with some trial and error. While researching that I ended up finding some articles on swapping to a more modern transmission from an S-10 or Mustang.

So that is what I was asking about. Has anyone done the swap?

I realize it would be easier to do all kinds of things to modernize the truck and make it easier to drive and maybe someday we'll do that. But for right now I bought it for her to drive and would like to make it a little smoother for her either by putting in a better shifter that she can learn to use the stock Studebaker or put a more modern 4 or 5 speed in that would make things much easier. Something that could be done over a long weekend, not something that turns into 3 or 20 years of 'making it better' and it never gets done. I'm already doing that with a Buick I've owned since college.

07-25-2017, 10:39 AM
In your case, I would go with a floor shifter conversion with a shift lever that fits your needs. The T-5 like my brother has is a nice swap, but I don't know of an adapter made for the six cylinder engine since Bill Cathcart is no longer doing sixes. The floor shifter for the stock transmission is simpler.

07-25-2017, 12:36 PM
Easiest solution to this problem is to just get a different wife.

07-25-2017, 12:46 PM
Easiest solution to this problem is to just get a different wife.

To the contrary, any spouse who is willing to even entertain the idea of driving an old Stude is a, "keeper", IMHO. Just not sure how the OP is gonna successfully modify the truck into something she can drive with safety and pleasure. Heck, I too struggle with double clutching. LOL

Skip Lackie
07-25-2017, 04:36 PM
What trans do you have (if you specified, I missed it)? If it's a 4 speed, it's a barbaric T-9 with no synchro. A relatively easy swap would be to go to a 3-speed with OD. They were optional, and have synchromesh in 2nd and 3rd -- no double clutching required if you don't try to shift too fast. And the .27 OD gets you a 4th gear. Parts should be relatively easy to find, as it was a factory option.

07-26-2017, 07:22 AM
Maybe you should build a shifter handle custom fit to the wife and train her a little. if trans is a t86 PM me, i have several shifters in the rafters. shifters only no install stuff, a challenge to your fabrication skills! Luck Doofus

Mrs K Corbin
07-26-2017, 07:48 AM
why not grab a hawk motor with auto tranny and stuff that in there? Lots of modification however.

If you're keeping the 6, you might be better off with the Flat-Head Lark 6 and Auto tranny, that would even look stock, except the floor shifter of course.

as for brakes, talk to Turner Brakes. I installed their dual piston kit after nearly losing my truck within a mile of the museum by running a stoplight and doing donuts in a parking lot (thankfully empty). The short story is I installed stainless lined brake cylinders and the cups failed, causing me to lose my fluid. Single pot MC only has one reservior....
Now I have Dual.

07-26-2017, 08:09 AM
We tend to think of these old trucks handling poorly, but most of them were worn out by the time we started driving them. When they are in top condition they are not that bad.
I have a 1956 Ford F-100, suspension very similar to the Studebaker. I swapped in a later engine and automatic, adapted a GM power steering box to the stock axle, replaced the spring bushings and king pins, added aftermarket sway bars front and rear, and used gas shocks. I put in a dual reservoir master cylinder with booster.
It rides smoother than my '08 Chevy pick up, and handles almost as well. My wife drives it with no trouble.

07-26-2017, 09:01 AM
I would set a budget...
Then, I would shop around and find a nice truck that is finished, even if you have to finance it.
That way, you have something to drive NOW, and all the while you are paying it off.
Having to wait 1 to 5 years to get the project done...
Well, those are years better spent enjoying the truck, rather than looking at the project and waiting...