View Full Version : Gas tank raw, painted, or undertcoated? 61 Hawk, 64 Hawk, 55 Speedster

Matthew Wendt
08-09-2017, 08:34 AM
Anyone think they definitively know if gas tanks were raw, painted, or undercoated (and which surfaces) from the factory?

I am interested in postwar cars, but specifically 61,64, and 55 C/K.

Below are a couple color factory photos that show painted.




Mike Sal
08-09-2017, 09:36 AM
All of the production line photos I've ever seen reflect tanks that painted. I have seen some prototype photos (non-production chassis) with unpainted tanks.
Mike Sal

08-09-2017, 03:23 PM

IMHO it depends on the condition of your tank. If you are looking for a single, uniform paint schedule form Studebaker, I doubt that you will be satisfied. Most, no doubt, were painted, but not all. If the car was undercoated the tank got undercoated too. I have never found an unpainted tank in any of the twenty, or more, 55's that I have owned. Quality control seemed to be spotty at best after 1955. Studebaker seemed to be willing to take a vacation from their slogan "Always give more then they promised." I actually put a later C/K tank in my Speedster, which had never been painted, but I had it cad plated first. Why I did it that way escapes me now, except that I wanted to do it that way. But it was forty years ago, today it would no doubt be too expensive. You can't go wrong painting it black. That's the way I would do it today, if the tank is good enough to take a good paint job.

08-09-2017, 04:41 PM
I can say for sure that the NOS tanks we have are not painted. Whether or not they were painted on the production line, I don't know.

There's a '63 Wagonaire here with 5600 actual miles. I'll crawl under it tomorrow and see how the gas tank looks.

08-09-2017, 05:51 PM
The tank out of my 60 Hawk appeared to have been painted silver. When I pulled the tank off, there was a rattling noise, so I figured it was full of rust. It turns out that it was about a cup full of pea gravel. Not sure if kids were messing around and putting rocks in the tank, or if somebody thought it would float around in there and keep it clean. The inside looked very clean, so I cleaned the outside and recoated with this product from Eastwood. It looks like a brand new tank now.http://www.eastwood.com/ew-tank-tone-metallic-coating-aerosol-13-oz.html

08-09-2017, 08:19 PM
I'm going to go on a natural progression of building the car. 1. you had a frame painted black, 2 you had a body painted to color, 3. gas tank was added to frame and body it was a galvanized tank. Now if car got to dealer and was undercoated........ "some" of the tank would have been sprayed. I can tell you my 56J had no undercoating and the gas tank was just the galvanized color, my 64 R2 will have undercoating and the gas tank on all but the top will be undercoated.It's those minor details........lol.

08-10-2017, 08:16 AM
Matt, the tank on this wagon was cleaned and painted. I asked Stephen about it and he says "all the gas tanks I've seen on cars had the same cheap black paint that was used on the frame."

08-10-2017, 08:41 AM
All N.O.S.tanks I had in stock years ago were galvanized steel.

08-10-2017, 09:07 AM
All N.O.S.tanks I had in stock years ago were galvanized steel.

Same with the NOS tanks we currently have. Maybe the tanks were installed on the frame before the frame was painted?

08-10-2017, 09:48 AM
Unless you want to encourage rust, corrosion, or deterioration in general, Paint, Coat, or Protect any part you can! Just as today...automakers, (back then) rarely did anything more than they could "get away with." In the 1990's, to early 2000's, I worked with some automotive accounts supplying parts and sub-assemblies. They would spend tons of money building ways to shave seconds of assembly line time (union wages) and get the vehicles outta the plant. Maximum profit, match competition, and enough quality to survive warranty period, is all that matters. It was true then and still is.

That is why I never apologize, or take any guff off anyone when I use better bearings, paint, safer wire, stainless steel, or any other "upgrade," from some of the original (low bidder) crap that found its way onto some "original" assembly lines. Galvanized, or not, given the opportunity, I would add a coating, to a gas tank, if I thought it would extend its durability.

Matthew Wendt
08-11-2017, 09:05 AM
Thanks everyone for your input, I am going with a semi flat acrylic urethane that will last on my Speedster just as I did on my Hawk. I always thought I needed to drop the tank on my Hawk and paint it silver, but the 63 or 64 factory photo is great evidence that from the factory they were painted, and Matt provided enough proof for me that the NOS ones were raw and that's why you occasionally see them that way.

The other issue is it is nearly impossible to get a true raw look, so the black is easier.


Matthew Wendt
08-11-2017, 09:13 AM
One more comment, the idea they were painted installed on the frame is very possible. I love this picture of a Speedster at the factory showing a stack of unpainted frames behind it. It sure would have been easiest to just paint the frame and tank assembled instead of separate. I have noticed on my 55 that just about everything is Alberta Blue on the motor. I think they did most assembly and then shot it with paint just crudely covering up the parts they didn't want paint on.



08-14-2017, 11:17 AM
my 59 Lark tank had a CAD plating on it and then some silver paint over that. The bottom of the tank had been undercoated with the black undercoating when it was produced.

We recently dropped the tank, had it bead blasted, and coated it with (3) coats of POR-15 on the exterior. The interior is plain and our was very clean. New seals on the sending unit and a new polyurethane float from a 95 Jeep Grand Cherokee and it's great!

I had to make sure I scuffed an area for grounding though. I hated to do that, but the fuel sensor needs to be ale to have a ground.