View Full Version : Roddin' a '50 Champion

03-29-2018, 05:34 PM
Hey y'all, first post here, if I'm doing something wrong just yell at me

Myself and a buddy went way up into the northern woods of Michigan to pick up this 1950 Champion 2 door. Not knowing what we were doing, but it was cheap and not in horrible condition and hey, it's a bullet nose studie.

Any way, I'm thinking hot roddin' it's the best way to go at this point, but from reading around Abit, this isn't just a throw a 350 in kind of car. It has a nice vintage paint look but isn't crazy rusted out and the body's straight. Floors are gone but have new pans for it.

Anyway, what would y'all recommend doing to this car. I'm trying to keep it under $5k... Just looking for ideas and recommendations before we did into it.

Flathead 6 runs but smokes bad, 3 on the tree works in all gears, wiring is original and and deteriorated, brakes don't work.

Also, if any want has the seat bottoms this ones missing both front and back

Hopefully there will be pictures

03-29-2018, 06:47 PM
A 51 would have been easier to rod since they came with a V-8. The 50 Champion will be harder to do on the cheap. Obviously, a 50 Champion can make a great rod, but do your homework (internet work?) before tearing it up and getting stuck. I'm sure others with more experience will chime in.

03-29-2018, 06:48 PM
Take a good look at the frame, particularly how light weight it is. You will have to strengthen it somehow. And you will also need better brakes - much better brakes if you are going to hot rod the car.

Studebaker used the capital letter "I" for the number "1" in the serial number. That has been driving motor vehicle department clerks crazy for the last 50 years, so be ready to explain that.

03-29-2018, 06:51 PM
Welcome to Studebaker World. 50 Champions are my favorite. Still have 2 of them, a 4 Dr and a convertible, both will be modified, but modestly. The original design and trim suit the car perfectly, as far as I'm concerned. Fifty Champions have a one year only front suspension and it is a pain to get parts for and because of it, many engine swaps become total front clips. Lots of parts are available, while some are non existent or a bit costly.
Others that have modified cars will chime in and some will be upset that you plan to modify an original car. The saying is: Your car, your money.
It looks like a good starting point and 2 Dr sedans make cool customs without going crazy with exterior mods. The original lines are wild enough to make people take a 2nd look.
Good luck and keep us informed, but mostly, join SDC and a local chapter to get a lot of info and probably help with your project.

03-29-2018, 07:05 PM
If your going to hot rod it I would swap out the whole frame with something stronger. To keep it under $5000 plan on spending a lot of time at swap meets. May be easier to build back somewhat stock to hit that number. Being it runs just pull the motor and a valve job, new rings and bearings and call it good. Put disc brakes in the front and new parts in the rear and check everything else.

03-29-2018, 07:06 PM
Hi Andy, I will start with what is probably MOST important here: "IT IS YOUR Car"!

That means that OUR opinion is not too important, HOWEVER I am pretty sure Most of us here would feel like I do, a Fairly rare 2 Door Sedan as Original and Nice as that, SHOULD be Restored ORIGINAL or at least close to it.

The Starlight Coupes were saved more because of being so different and unique so are more plentiful.
It is a very poor choice for a fairly powerful V8 Swap, a OHV 4.3L V6 or even a in line OHV 6 would be a better choice in a 1950 with that Steering, Suspension and being built for a low power Six. JMHO !

Note: I see that it HAS the Optional 3 Speed OVERDRIVE! :!:

03-29-2018, 07:19 PM
I like them stock, and your's looks to be fairly easy body repairs. I'd drive it for a while to see if the engine improves with an oil change and a few miles of driving. Your seats and bumpers will be easy to find.


03-29-2018, 09:08 PM
If I did put a V8 in I would think stick it on a 80's s10 frame? I've Never done something that major though and would hate to mess this car up. I've had a few 70's Camaros and a '73 GTO, '84 Dodge square body, etc, but this will be my first "build" so to speak.

I should also add I'm kinda trying to think of milder ways to rod it a bit without doing a frame swap, pull the motor and have the crank drilled, then maybe some high comp pistons and split manifolds? Just thinking out loud here...

03-29-2018, 09:22 PM
Studerich, I was thinking something like an overhead valve straight 6 to try to get some more power as well, or try and hop up the original Motor a bit.

I own the car, but this is our first "build" so to speak. I really appreciate all the comments so far, this is really helping think some thinks out better.

Maybe I don't realize what I have here completely, lol. I don't know the least things about studes for the most part. I saw it cheap on Craigslist and thought it looks like a fun cheap project. I've never restored something either. I rebuild my snowmobiles and get old tractors running and fix up cars and sell them for a small profit. Now I'm thinking maybe I got more then I expected?

Keep the comments coming, I don't know what I'm doing really, lol. I think so far I'm really getting I need to keep the original Motor at all costs.

Also I have the front bumper and mouth and.most the chrome trim pieces, but it all needs to be rechromed for perfect


03-29-2018, 09:37 PM
My cars are for a fun drive, not for racing, so the 85 H.P. is fine with me. If I want more power, then I can drive my 102 H.P. 1950 Commander.

If I was to hop up the Champion, I'd simply add a turbocharger.
I own a few Corvairs with turbochargers, and it's the best bang for the buck. Easy to do on a Stude, and easy to go back to stock.

03-30-2018, 08:45 AM
To keep it on the cheap start with the original engine. As previously mentioned. Maybe a fresh oil change to a synthetic blend with fresh plugs will help clear up the smoke. If not, a ring and valve job is a lot less labor intensive and cost effective than a swap and all the parts chasing you'll need to do. I also agree a turbo addition will bring some HP for reasonable $$. If you keep it close to stock it will be a lot easier to sell if you want to at a later date.

03-30-2018, 10:29 AM
I'll have to look into turbocharging motors like this, sounds like a cool idea.

Also anybody have an idea what a car like this is worth? I paid 1500 for it, too high/too low? Just curious.

Thanks again for all the replys guys. I'm sure I'll have lots more questions as we get into it.

03-30-2018, 10:36 AM
I'll have to look into turbocharging motors like this, sounds like a cool idea.

Also anybody have an idea what a car like this is worth? I paid 1500 for it, too high/too low? Just curious.

Thanks again for all the replys guys. I'm sure I'll have lots more questions as we get into it. $1500 is dirt cheap for a way into the old car hobby.
This car is a very workable unit to have on the road for under $5000. You still have $3500 to work with, so get it running right with the original engine, put your floorpans in, go thru the steering,suspension and brakes, you may even have some money left over to redo the interior.

03-30-2018, 11:05 AM
It's a slippery slope no matter which way you go. Ideally, it would be best to get it on the road and see where you want to go from there. The problems is you will probably need to spend a couple of grand on brakes, steering, tires and suspension just to be able to drive it and that all can be wasted if you plan to upgrade later. At best, the car with those improvements is borderline roadworthy. The brakes etc. from that era were fine back then but now!!??. If you just want to take it to local shows and events then fixing it up should be fine but don't be fooled by the 6-cyl. It is not cheap to rebuild nor add performance.

I don't think $5K will put you in that car with the necessary upgrades including an engine rebuild to put it on the road. We haven't even discussed the body work necessary to fix the rusted floors and body supports yet.

The price tag you paid for it was fine but from here it gets expensive. My advice from here on is to set back, build a vision of what you want, access your abilities to accomplish that vision at a reasonable cost and then move ahead. It might also be beneficial to join the local Studebaker club and see what the members think. Be aware though that most may look aghast at modifying a bullet nose.

Additionally, modifying that car will not reduce the value. In fact a well built street rod will go for much more that a total restoration.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade but I'm 75 and been doing what your asking about for close to 60 years and the worst thing one can do is to start throwing money at something like this immediately. Set back, look it over, access the work needed and then build a vision of what you would like to do and forecast the cost. Then forge ahead fearlessly.

Lastly, we are a large forum that represents all the opinions of what a vehicle like this should look like. Some will agree with you, some won't but decide where you want to go and don't get discouraged, most everyone here will help even if they may not be in concert with you vision. It a good place to ask questions and find resources.

Where you at, I'm in Bay City.


03-30-2018, 12:44 PM
I'm a little north of Jackson. Any body know of some good clubs in the general area? I heard someone say something about a swap meet in May in South bend? I'll look into that some.

I take it disc brakes are a highly recommended upgrade, that'd another hand full of $$$. Probably won't get started on it for at least a month, so definitely want to get a good plan together first.

03-30-2018, 01:06 PM
If money is the concern and not the time or labor, swapping the body onto a shortened S10 chassis is far cheaper then adding suspension, brakes, steering and all the other things the Studebaker needs, that come standard on the S10. Your car needs the floors fixed no matter what, but why not incorporate the S10 floor and tunnel into the Studebaker? Maybe even part of the firewall. Use the S10 wiring and adapt to compatible gauges in the dash, or incorporate new gauges. If you pick up a V6 S10, you will have plenty of power and be able to get repair parts at most any automotive supply store.
You have $1500 invested so far. A running S10 can be bought for $1000 to $1500 leaving you at least 2 grand to make other repairs/modifications.

03-31-2018, 12:15 AM
Has anyone here Ever done a s10 swap kind of thing?

There's a 1987 gmc s15 rear wheel drive reg cab long bed coming up on the online auction near me. Wheels are only 5 inches too far back so with a shortened frame maybe I could make that work. It's a 4 cylinder thats been sitting for a very long time but very rust free and only at $160 right now with a few days to go. Thinking about getting it just to have around wether I do a swap or not, just so I have the option, and if I don't do a swap I could scrap it.

03-31-2018, 08:26 AM
The S-15 frame is perfect for shortening as it has a middle section that is straight. It's been done on many occasions but be sure to measure track width for your setup. A V6 would be a nice engine and you would have all the brakes and running gear of a modern car.

This should get you started with your research. Google S-10 or S-15 studebaker frame swap for more . Most will be trucks but in the one I posted oldsalt (Forum Member) talks about a 50 champion. You should try to contact him for his views.


A picture of his car from the post.


See anything you like? :!:


03-31-2018, 09:38 AM
One last piece of advice before you start. Be sure you have a clear title in your name before you start any work or you could be investing a lot of money in somebody else's car. I won't start any work on anything in my polebarn without a clear title in my name.


03-31-2018, 06:14 PM
Wow! Seeing that s10 build Post is exactly what I needed to see! That really gets me thinking again! Really helpful to see all the little details I didn't think about that would need to go into that.

I've my share of title issue and learnednto stear clear and wait for a clean green title in my name, lol. This ones clean and should transfer no prob, I'll get it in within the next week or so.

For now we'll do a oil change with some lucas, clean the carb and have a look at the breaks, then go from there. I bought a new master cylinder for the original brakes, might be $35 that didn't need to be spent but if I can get the brakes working for now that's fine.

I've heard some talk about a special puller for the rear brakes? I found a puller in the trunk that was fairly small but odd, don't know if that might be for the brakes?

03-31-2018, 06:59 PM
I've heard some talk about a special puller for the rear brakes? I found a puller in the trunk that was fairly small but odd, don't know if that might be for the brakes?

yes, it takes a special puller. Go here: http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?102734-Rear-Drum-removal-revisted&highlight=drum+puller and look at post #2, Jeff posted a pic of the one that most people normally use.

03-31-2018, 07:57 PM
yes, it takes a special puller. Go here: http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?102734-Rear-Drum-removal-revisted&highlight=drum+puller and look at post #2, Jeff posted a pic of the one that most people normally use.

The 50 Champion has four studs, rather than five. A tripod-type puller will not work on four studs. An adapter plate must be made, similar to the one shown earlier in that post.

03-31-2018, 08:08 PM
The 50 Champion has four studs, rather than five. A tripod-type puller will not work on four studs. An adapter plate must be made, similar to the one shown earlier in that post.

Thanks Roy, having never had or worked on a pre '51 car, I wasn't aware of that. I better stick to that which I know! :)

03-31-2018, 10:49 PM
Let me go down the road less traveled. I'm not against modifications, but with a $5000 limit, I'd make this a 50's style hot rod. Rebuilding the six and rebuilding the brakes would be enough to challenge your budget. Pep up the six, get an old school intake with dual carbs, headers and other traditional old school mods. Why, you have an engine and you can upgrade the brakes. You don't run the risk of an S-10 frame project not working, and there are a lot of those. You already know the engine fits. Boost the compression to 8.5:1 or 9:0:1 and you can still run it on pump gas. There are a few vendors that have old school parts. Cams are available. Think outside the box if finances are slim.

55 56 PREZ 4D
03-31-2018, 11:58 PM
Check this out, then do a check on variations on "S-10 frame swap."
A lot of info out there on what to look for and what to watch out for. What years, what model, what frame length to use.
Several years ago a guy in Nipomo [a town close by] picked up a 50 frame swap project that had been completely butchered.
The guy knew what he was doing, completely redid the car and came out with a sweet ride. He's probably sold it by now and on to his next project.

04-01-2018, 12:25 AM
I was thinking about trying to up compression vs turbos as well. I would think the crank and bearings would need to be drilled for better oiling either way? Anyone know anything about that? Machine work gets expensive fast but I'd rather do something right once, then doing it twice.

I seen summit racing has a duel carb intake for motors like this, if I do keep this motor I'd definitely like to put dual carbs on.

04-01-2018, 08:13 AM
The 50 Studebakers don't need better oiling. They aren't dip and splash like Chevrolet of that time period.
My 1950 Champion has 40 PSI when hot.


04-19-2018, 06:39 PM
I'm doing this to a '49 Starlight Coupe. A 'Period' correct hot rod, as found in the old magazines of the period.

Dual carb intake: Offenhauser still catalogs one, but I found a period correct Edmunds on line for $50.

The carbs used would be 2 Carter one barrels as came with the engine, but there is now a brand new replacement for the Carter by Daytona Parts Co. They look like the Carter, and use the same air filter, but they come with adjustable main jets, perfect for a twin carb tune.

You have to cut the exhaust manifold away from the intake portion of the casting to fit a 2 carb manifold. I have seen people 'split' the cast iron exhausts with good results, but it does require some specific skills. Otherwise use a custom exhaust shop to build you headers, generally a 3 into 1 x 2 works great. You then run true dual exhaust.

Compression ratios: the 170 had several, the highest being from 1960. I bought a NOS '60 head for $50 on sale.

The same porting techniques used on Ford flatheads work on this motor.

High performance cams can be done in several places using your existing core. I believe Egge has one.

Powergen will make you a 60 amp positive ground 6V alternator that looks like the original generator.

'Champion' makes aluminum radiators for them.

You can also fit an aluminum finned beehive style oil filter. Obrien Truckers makes good quality replica aluminum open element air filters.

I like the Porter mufflers: old school, great sound.

The car may not be 'fast' in modern terms, but pleasingly quick and definitely a 'hot rod'.

04-26-2018, 09:35 PM
Thanks! That gives me some more good ideas. I'll have to start which eBay more often for some various parts.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to start dumping theoney into this thing yet, lol. Did get the carburetor cleaned out and it's running pretty well.

04-27-2018, 01:38 AM
A lot of people here are suggesting the S-10 swap. But many of them have been building cars for years and have well equipped shops... you say this is your first build? There is significant fabrication and welding skills required to swap the frame, as well as a lot of knowledge on making the steering column and pedal assembly work with your dash, and sorting the wiring harness to interface your dashboard with fuel imjection, and... and.. and...
you can have aLOT of hot rod fun by just building what you have. There is historical significance to your car as well. That Champion 6 was a bullet-proof engine, often raced in various midget-cars and others... cool looking and sounding with a finned aluminum head, split manifold, and twin carbs. As far as a turbo goes, I think the easiest would be a carbureted draw-through turbo used on late ‘70’s Buick Regals and a few early ‘80’s Trans Am’s. The ones on Regals were sized right for 6 cyl. cars, and would be very simple to adapt since they use a pretty ordinary Rochester QuadraJet carb. I have one that I keep thinking about putting on my Champion 6 because it’s such an easy fit!
It’s also very interesting and charming to hop up the 6. I personally am about as sick as I can be of seeing Chevy-powered rods. To me they just look like someone took the easy way out, not much creativity. I recognize that is just my opinion, but when I go to car shows, I specifically look for the “Dare-to-be-Different” cars!

04-27-2018, 04:55 PM
One small but useful hint --- there are left hand threads on the left hand wheel nuts and studs.