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View Full Version : Studebaker V8 Superiority...or, as I was saying...



BobPalma
08-11-2017, 06:52 PM
;) Studeophiles with muddy St. Joseph River South Bend blood coursing through their veins, those who diligently read Hemmings Classic Car, are in for a reflective treat this month. That will be when they read the report of the 1957 Oldsmobile 98 convertible with J-2 Tri-Power in the new, October 2017 Hemmings Classic Car.

First, however, we reflect on my column praising the sturdiness of the Studebaker V8. That column was in the March 2015 Hemmings Classic Car, available for free CASO reading here in case you missed it :):

https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2015/03/America-s-Best-V-8-Engine--Studebaker/3747591.html

Therein, regarding main bearing size to document Studebaker V8 superiority, I said, "...when introduced for the 1951 model year, the Studebaker V8 had at least 25% more main bearing area per cubic inch than did Cadillac or Oldsmobile V8s."

Comes now (a little legal jargon, there) the article on the 1957 J-2 Oldsmobile with its 371 Oldsmobile V8, a direct descendant of the 1949 303 Olds V8 referenced in my column.

On Page 34 of the October 2017 Hemmings Classic Car, Matthew Litwin says, regarding the newly enlarged-for-1957 Olds 371 V8 engine, "...Much of the previous performance lineage was carried over, save for enlarged main bearing dimensions...." [Bold Face mine]

I suppose it took GM engineers that long to see that Studebaker engineers had the right idea for the 1951 model year. :woot: ;) :D :whome: :cool: BP

Corvanti
08-11-2017, 07:17 PM
Thanks for sharing the article!:!::!!::cool: i recall reading this when the mag came out.

maybe this will give some folks a pause before tossing a good Studebaker V8 that may need a rebuild/refresh and stay away from a GM belly button 350 crate engine.

BobPalma
08-11-2017, 07:37 PM
Thanks for sharing the article!:!::!!::cool: I recall reading this when the mag came out.

Maybe this will give some folks a pause before tossing a good Studebaker V8 that may need a rebuild/refresh and stay away from a GM belly button 350 crate engine.

:!: We can hope, Kerry; we can hope. :D ;) Thanks. :cool: BP

nels
08-11-2017, 08:32 PM
The truth is in the bushes; you just need to move a few branches to discover it.

BobPalma
08-11-2017, 08:44 PM
The truth is in the bushes; you just need to move a few branches to discover it.

:o WOW! Nelson Bove, the Prophetic Philosopher! :lol: ;) :cool: BP

StudeNewby
08-11-2017, 11:01 PM
Thanks for sharing the article!:!::!!::cool: i recall reading this when the mag came out.

maybe this will give some folks a pause before tossing a good Studebaker V8 that may need a rebuild/refresh and stay away from a GM belly button 350 crate engine.

Hear, hear!

Chris Pile
08-11-2017, 11:45 PM
Too bad Studebaker didn't bother making a head that could breathe. Then maybe South Bend V-8s would have been the choice of 50's hot rodders instead of bowtie smallblocks. You know I'm right.

plee4139
08-12-2017, 05:05 AM
Thanks for sharing the article!:!::!!::cool: i recall reading this when the mag came out.

maybe this will give some folks a pause before tossing a good Studebaker V8 that may need a rebuild/refresh and stay away from a GM belly button 350 crate engine.

Excellent point. My 289 is in the process of being rebuilt, unfortunately only 15k miles after its last rebuild. Cause is not completely known yet. At that point I understood why people go the crate route, which is fine for them, but not for purist me. As a musician, for me it's like rebuilding a Steinway piano with some other manufacturer's components. No!

Noxnabaker
08-12-2017, 05:06 AM
Did a Chevy 283 breath that much better than a Studebaker 289?
I do NOT know, just curious.

DEEPNHOCK
08-12-2017, 07:26 AM
Too bad Studebaker didn't bother making a head that could breathe. Then maybe South Bend V-8s would have been the choice of 50's hot rodders instead of bowtie smallblocks. You know I'm right.

I don't know about that....
I think that the #4 automakers supporters always looked at the #4 label as a badge of honor.
If you are #4, you stay proud of the #4 spot and scorn #1, #2, and #3.
Even the marketing people use the underdog mentality as a sales tool.
Remember Avis? We're #2 and we try harder?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QztSa5qNf2o

PackardV8
08-12-2017, 09:56 AM
Did a Chevy 283 breath that much better than a Studebaker 289?
I do NOT know, just curious.

No, stock-for-stock, the 283" Chevrolet and the 289" Studebaker engines made essentially the same horsepower and torque below 5,000 RPMs.

Yes, the Small Block Chevy had more potential to breathe better and when the valve train was modified to live at higher RPMs, the SBC made more horsepower than the Studebaker could. Once the small, light, high-revving Chevy became available, literally everything else in that cubic inch range became obsolete. I had several long conversations with Ed Iskenderian about the history and development of the SBC. He said, "Once we put the first Chevy V8 on the dyno, it was obviously going to be the future of hot rodding. We immediately cut back our orders for cam cores for every other engine and ordered all we could get for the Chevy. We still had Studebaker and Packard cams left on the shelf forty years later.

As better OEM heads became available from GM, the SBC performance gap grew. Once the aluminum aftermarket heads became available, the SBC got even stronger.

Today, the LS-series and aftermarket heads for other engines have surpassed the 23-degree SBC in power production, but with more than 100,000,000 made, many are still out there and an infinite supply of hot rod parts still kicking around at swap meets for scrap prices.


I understood why people go the crate route, which is fine for them, but not for purist me. As a musician, for me it's like rebuilding a Steinway piano with some other manufacturer's components. No!

Agree. Bottom line for CASOs, we build our Studes because we love them, not because it's cost-effective horsepower compared to the SBC.

jack vines

BobPalma
08-12-2017, 10:17 AM
:!: Good words in Post #11, Jack, thanks. I felt I gave the SBC its due in the opening paragraph of my Hemmings column. My column was not about cost-effectiveness or anything other than outright toughness.

Ted Harbit once told me he had a worn-out 232 Stude V8 with oil pressure so low he couldn't believe it ran, much less how quiet it was. He said he took it out and intentionally tried to blow it up...and couldn't. :eek: (Who says we all didn't do some pretty stupid things in our youth, so I suppose that story documents Ted having been younger than his current 82 years at one time! :lol:<GGG>)

I rest my case: My column testifies as to why it is so. :D ;) :cool: BP

Mike Van Veghten
08-12-2017, 10:20 AM
Unfortunately, the line QUICKLY crosses between horse power vs. cost in the Stude engine vs. just about ANY of the big four engines. Speaking of the small Chevy, Ford and Chrysler engines.

Even back 20 years or so, it was cheaper to get, say...450 - 500hp. out of a 283/302 Chevy, or Ford vs. a Studebaker (normally aspirated !). As Jack notes, today the gap is even wider, even dealing with just the (small inch) 23 degree engine. 20-25 years ago you could build a 306 Chevy to over 500hp with off the shelf, iron 23 degree heads. I know, we ran a dragster with a 306 Chevy, one carburetor, automatic trans., it ran in the high 7sec. / low 8sec. area. According to the weight vs. track times, that equaled in the 540-550 hp range.
We'd be hard pressed to get a 289/305 Stude up that high with just a carburetor...even with R3 heads.

So what...even now that we have a few folks that are willing to experiment a little. Roller cams, adjustable cam drives, better intake manifolds, better capability of building proper headers, and somewhat better cylinder heads between a few of us. But as noted, the cost vs. power crossed a long time ago (advantage to the big four).

Mike

nels
08-12-2017, 04:13 PM
The Stude V8 is not a bad motor for being over 50 yrs since the last one was built. Time does march on and so does technology. The Stude V8 is nothing to be ashamed of for sure. I'm not at all embarrassed to have one under my hood; in fact I'm rather proud of it!

DEEPNHOCK
08-12-2017, 07:24 PM
A Studebaker V8 can be a nice, quiet, smooth running engine.
Here's one that is going to be a pain to some small block Chevies:whome:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvabF4_uHQc

mbstude
08-12-2017, 07:49 PM
Dang, Jeff. That is one noisy shop fan.

Guido
08-12-2017, 10:24 PM
I don't know about that....
I think that the #4 automakers supporters always looked at the #4 label as a badge of honor.
If you are #4, you stay proud of the #4 spot and scorn #1, #2, and #3.
Even the marketing people use the underdog mentality as a sales tool.
Remember Avis? We're #2 and we try harder?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QztSa5qNf2o

Are you saying Studebaker was number 4? If so, I would contend AMC was 4th and Studebaker 5th in production.

DEEPNHOCK
08-12-2017, 10:33 PM
Are you saying Studebaker was number 4? If so, I would contend AMC was 4th and Studebaker 5th in production.

You win........

evilhawk
08-13-2017, 02:26 AM
All this talk about how Studebaker engines are not cost effective to modify and the small block Chevy is... Its called a turbo and the Stude v8 being so overbuilt requires very little mods to add one. Just slap a $150 junkyard turbo to your stock 289 and those poor flowing heads no longer matter and the next time you see a Chevy or Ford, it will be through your rear view mirror.

Anyway the article is about how reliable the Stude 289 is, not which one performs better on a budget which is a moot point since turbos became so popular.

BobPalma
08-13-2017, 05:56 AM
:!!: 'Good posts #15 and #19, Jeff and Sam.

'Wicked sound, Jeff; how 'bout some stills of the engine itself, if not a You-tube? :!: ;) :cool: BP

DEEPNHOCK
08-13-2017, 07:30 AM
'Wicked sound, Jeff; how 'bout some stills of the engine itself, if not a You-tube? :!: ;) :cool: BP


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFPzGtWygLI

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4365/36143850090_75cb021ed9_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/X4UFp9)161201 - Engine Project (4) (https://flic.kr/p/X4UFp9) by Jeff Rice (https://www.flickr.com/photos/156436109@N03/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4349/35731337103_d1ae88b0c2_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/WrsrEg)161201 - Engine Project (5) (https://flic.kr/p/WrsrEg) by Jeff Rice (https://www.flickr.com/photos/156436109@N03/), on Flickr

BobPalma
08-13-2017, 07:45 AM
:!!: Beautiful, Jeff; thanks. :D :cool: BP

Dan White
08-13-2017, 09:02 AM
Nice engine Jeff, looks great.

As for V8s, I would like to get to more car shows than I do now, but I have been noticing a lot of non-SBC in rods. Buick nail heads are popular it seems as are early Cads, Olds, and a variety of Mopar stuff. I think a lot of folks are wanting their engine bay to be something different for a change and nothing says different than a Stude V8! BTW I have a Hudson Hornet 308 in my garage w/ 3 side draft Webers and high compression aluminum head waiting for a '36/'37 Terraplane rod build - that also is a dare to be different!

1954khardtop
08-13-2017, 09:21 AM
One reason the SBC became the engine of choice in street rods is because it is a perfect fit in early an Ford chassis as is. It was small and light compared to other OHV V8s. It had a rear oil pan sump, the starter and lower radiator hose were on the right. Engines with a front sump oil pan interfered with the front axle and tie rods. Left side mounted starters and lower radiator hoses interfered with the steering gear.
Also the Chevy was a more affordable donor car compared to Olds, Cad, etc.

Buzzard
08-13-2017, 10:51 AM
Sunday morning music to my ears Jeff. No other motor sounds like a Stude and I love it. Great success on the E85.
Cheers, Bill
PS: I have cars with heater hoses that are smaller than your spark plug leads!:!!:

DEEPNHOCK
08-13-2017, 10:58 AM
Those wires have high temp chafe protectors on them.
NASCAR stuff. The set was custom made for me by the late Brian Scott (RIP Brian...a good Stude guy)..


Sunday morning music to my ears Jeff. No other motor sounds like a Stude and I love it. Great success on the E85.
Cheers, Bill
PS: I have cars with heater hoses that are smaller than your spark plug leads!:!!:

bensherb
08-13-2017, 04:14 PM
"Are you saying Studebaker was number 4? If so, I would contend AMC was 4th and Studebaker 5th in production". You win........

Now consider that Studebaker had been in business for 98 years before AMC existed. The two companys that began AMC folded within 3 years, AMC was only in business 26 years before buyout after buyout and their demise 7 years later.

Not a big fan of small block chevys, but their very low cost keeps a lot of old cars running that might otherwise have gone to the junker. Even though I'd prefer to keep the Stude engine, if mine goes bad I'll likely swap it due to cost. Perhaps I'll put in a 1965-66 Lark engine, it should bolt to a 700r4 without an adapter.

BobWaitz
08-13-2017, 06:39 PM
Disclaimer: If a 65/66 fell into my lap I'd be on the phone to JEGS the next day ordering a 383 and making it look just like the stock power plant.

That said, I'd rather see a Mazda Wankel in a T-bucket than another SBC. If the engine is the showcase of the vehicle, make it something interesting. Make me stand there and look at it for 10 minutes. SBC is fine for anything where you're never going to open the hood. HP per $$ it's the cheapest. The fellow I got my M5 from built his with a 350/350 setup from a truck out of the junkyard. It's been running trouble free for 6 or 7 years now. It fits in there a heck of a lot better than my 259. It was important for me to have a Studebaker engine in mine. The only other power plant I considered was electric. If I find a wrecked Tesla 10 years from now, watch out. You won't hear me coming.

bensherb
08-13-2017, 11:52 PM
Disclaimer: If a 65/66 fell into my lap I'd be on the phone to JEGS the next day ordering a 383 and making it look just like the stock power plant.

That said, I'd rather see a Mazda Wankel in a T-bucket than another SBC. If the engine is the showcase of the vehicle, make it something interesting. Make me stand there and look at it for 10 minutes. SBC is fine for anything where you're never going to open the hood.

The only other power plant I considered was electric. If I find a wrecked Tesla 10 years from now, watch out. You won't hear me coming.

I agree. Except for the electric, if you're looking for expensive it's a great way to go. They're great if you trade them in before needing a battery. Having 2 Prius's (wife an daughter are eco freeks), I found if you factor in the cost of drive battery replacement it's more cost effective to drive my Tundra. Not to mention the need to replace the 12 volt battery (like all cars have) every year; or two if you're lucky. At least in their minds it justifies my driving "antiques".

SScopelli
08-14-2017, 09:52 AM
To think this was 1952 to 1956!

http://www.museumofamericanspeed.com/RS/SR/Alternate/46/15762~2_L_15dd4926.JPG


;)
...Therein, regarding main bearing size to document Studebaker V8 superiority, I said, "...when introduced for the 1951 model year, the Studebaker V8 had at least 25% more main bearing area per cubic inch than did Cadillac or Oldsmobile V8s."



Even today the majority of engines use the center crank journal as the "Main" bearing, while Studebaker used the front, and as well an extra wide bearing on the rear journal. If these engines were not so heavy they would make great engines to swing a propeller.

A simple observation to the toughness to these engines. There are more Studebaker engines than there are cars. From a sample of Chuck's yard, I'd say there were about 7 V8 engines per car, and that he never rebuilt one because there was always a good running engine around to swap in.

jpepper
08-14-2017, 01:24 PM
I think if allowed a normal progression, the Studebaker V8 would have fared well compared to the competition. The bottom end was sure strong enough. As power and displacement increased the connecting rods would have needed updating. Eliminating the antiquated wrist pin clamp bolt would have been a cost savings and a strength improvement. Ideally a floating pin would have been used but pressed would be okay as well. The R3/R4 used pressed pins unsuccessfully because the pin bore in the rod was not controlled properly. Better machinery would solve that. Cylinder head design and flow was already on their radar. The R3 head was the first step. Caddy, Olds, and Pontiac also siamesed the center exhaust port at one time. They eventually separated them. The Stude combustion chamber was way ahead of the competition and only limited by the machinery making it. A GM LS chamber has features you could say was derived from the Studebaker. With 4.5" bore centers and a crankcase wide enough for about a 3.875 stroke, the Stude V8 could accommodate over 400 CI. Modern casting techniques could take some weight out or aluminum could replace iron in the heads and intake. A modernized Stude V8 would get great fuel economy and be very emission compliant. That is what I think.

Dan White
08-14-2017, 02:26 PM
I believe Jim is correct. Studebaker, if funds had been available, would have been making continuous improvements and would have been competitive. It was a great starting point and would have continued. I still think it was a shame that they could not keep the Packard V8 in production as their big block version. It had issues but they were solvable as well.

The other thing I think is not said. "is who really cares". How many of us race or even dyno our engines. I could give a crap less if someones SBC is built to 600 or 1,000 HP in their street rod. What I want is a dependable engine that looks great and different in my car. I could even tell everyone at a car show that my engine is 450 horse and who would know the difference? I would bet that very few in the SDC has a clue what real HP their engine is putting out, as is, R1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ......

BobPalma
08-14-2017, 08:21 PM
:!: As long as we are discussing Studebaker-Packard Power, how's about this Packard V8-powered street rod seen at the 2017 Packard Automobile Classics National Meet this past June?

http://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss155/BobPalma/DSCF80921_zpsiwik7jsa.jpg (http://s571.photobucket.com/user/BobPalma/media/DSCF80921_zpsiwik7jsa.jpg.html)

http://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss155/BobPalma/DSCF80931_zpshxlcjtyd.jpg (http://s571.photobucket.com/user/BobPalma/media/DSCF80931_zpshxlcjtyd.jpg.html)

jpepper
08-14-2017, 08:44 PM
Studebaker 289 and 4-speed in a 30 Ford model A pickup. Has an old Stu V twin carb intake on it.

DEEPNHOCK
08-15-2017, 06:31 AM
Studebaker 289 and 4-speed in a 30 Ford model A pickup. Has an old Stu V twin carb intake on it.

Look for some changes coming to this engine setup....:whome:

56H-Y6
08-15-2017, 11:48 AM
Hi

While I understand your point is the Studebaker V8 engine was engineered with oversized bearing surfaces from the start, making it more durable and able to withstand higher stresses contributing to long-term durability, that was not the most cost affective way to engineer for volume production. In general, for everyday passenger car use, over-engineering was affectively giving away a little bit of the unit profit in each car sold.

GM, as a basic engineering tenet, required close unit costing of every component for whatever application. Continually, material and labor costs were removed with the objective of building the optimum lowest unit cost components, all toward contributing to overall lowest unit cost of the assembled vehicle for a given application relative to the sale price. Every few cents removed from cost over millions of units made them the highly profitable company they were. True, there are example where they went a bit too far, causing premature failures, but that's true of all car companies. When profits are the primary, over-engineering is at cross-purposes with that objective.

Steve

DEEPNHOCK
08-15-2017, 11:57 AM
While what you say is true... Studebaker never had enough volume to warrant that kind of scrutiny.
They took their post WWII gains and invested in a new state of the art (for 1950) automated V8 engine production line.
While this helped....it also tied their hands to make any changes. They had to live within the machines envelope.
And the engineering stayed stuck in the early fifties. Not a slam...just a fact.
Later, there was no board or management approval to update anything. Even the GT Hawk update was a band aid cheapie update.
Heck, the Avanti was a low budget creation.
Look at the production numbers compared to any of the majors. They made millions, Studebaker made thousands.
They did quite well with what they had to work with.
But... It was not genius cutting edge engineering. It was more heavy duty get it through the warranty period engineering.
Just a fact based opinion...


Hi

While I understand your point is the Studebaker V8 engine was engineered with oversized bearing surfaces from the start, making it more durable and able to withstand higher stresses contributing to long-term durability, that was not the most cost affective way to engineer for volume production. In general, for everyday passenger car use, over-engineering was affectively giving away a little bit of the unit profit in each car sold.

GM, as a basic engineering tenet, required close unit costing of every component for whatever application. Continually, material and labor costs were removed with the objective of building the optimum lowest unit cost components, all toward contributing to overall lowest unit cost of the assembled vehicle for a given application relative to the sale price. Every few cents removed from cost over millions of units made them the highly profitable company they were. True, there are example where they went a bit too far, causing premature failures, but that's true of all car companies. When profits are the primary, over-engineering is at cross-purposes with that objective.

Steve