View Full Version : 53 Starliner radiator replacement?

11-10-2006, 09:02 PM
I'm ready to fire up my custom Stude, and I'd like to replace the stock radiator with one that can keep my Chevy 350 cool. I'm planning to install a Vintage Air A/C as well. Does anyone have a suggestion as to a radiator that will fit?

[img=left]http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j259/stude53/studesmall2.jpg[/img=left]Bob Feaganes (stude53)
53 Starliner Hardtop
Newton Grove, NC

Dick Steinkamp
11-10-2006, 09:11 PM
I don't think you will find one that will bolt in. If you want to use an existing brand X radiator, do some measuring, find one close, then build brackets to mount it. Have the used radiator recored and tested.

I did the opposite. I gave the stock radiator and mounting brackets to a radiator shop. They custom built tanks and installed a 4 row core. Fit like a stock one (I even use the stock fan shroud). I have only a mechanical driven fan (thermostatic fan clutch). No cooling problems with my 327...but no air conditioning either.

Either way, count on about $400 or so.


11-10-2006, 09:41 PM
I'm in the same boat as you right now. Got an R1 in my '55 coupe, and a leaky stock radiator. Rodney Red will build you a custom one but when I got serious about considering having one built he wanted me to send him my old one as a pattern. I really don't want to be without my car for however long it takes to make a new rad. The other option is to just have your existing one recored with the biggest core you can find, if you go that route I would suggest trying to find a late '55 rad with the ribbed top tank, that rad. is good for 13 PSI while the older one is only good for 7 PSI. I talked to the guy from Elizabeth Radiator at Reedsville on a recommendation and he seemed cool but I just haven't gotten around to getting him the measurements he needed so he could tell me whether or not he could get a core for me. This whole job thing is really interfering with my car projects.


55 Commander Starlight

11-10-2006, 10:00 PM
I'm in the market for a new rad.also. Going to run a/c too. I have called a couple of custom rad. company's and asked if they can make me one. Griffin is one that says yes and will make it to your spec's. They have some Stude. patterns in stock and may be able to just send you one out. In the case of my wagon they would require that I send them my old one since they do not have a pattern for it. Good Luck.

11-11-2006, 10:19 PM
I have an ALUMINUM (said to run cooler) Griffin off the shelf in a '47 Merc. street rod, a shroud, and an electric puller 3,000 cfm (don't use anything less) fully on-off automatic fan, Vintage Gen II AC and my overheating problems are over in 100 degree Kansas weather. The Gen II will freeze us out. Running stock 350/350. Street rods are notorius for overheating. Be sure to check with street rodders in your area. Send me your city--better yet area code and I can give you some rodders phone numbers. Hood louvers will help but many today don't like the look. There are aluminum custom radiator builders available if you need to go that route. Many times these builders are in the racing industry. I bought my radiator from Southern. NSRA and Goodguys magazines (both good organizations to help street rodders and building) have many ads and articles about radiators.....Brad...I used a separate trans cooler...

11-12-2006, 11:04 AM
I used an alum radiator purchased from Summit Racing. Priced somewhere around $200. Only thing I really had to do was square off the bottom of the radiator cradle in order to get the rad low enough. This is in front of a 383 Stroker Chev with a/c. Uses an electric fan set-up and hasn't overheated this summer.

Minor problem was having to use a seperate cooler for trans which isn't a bad idea anyway.

The radiator is a generic item, and you will have to add mounting tabs. Any shop that tig welds can weld alum tabs to radiator.


Own '53 Commander Starliner. Red w/beige top. 350 Chev/700R4. Tilt,cruise,A/C.

11-12-2006, 11:11 AM
BTW, previous post refers to rad installed in car I built for customer. In my own, I am using just a stock Stude V-8 radiator that I just had cleaned and flushed. In front of a basically stock 350 Chev.(mild cam). Using dual fans in front with a vintage air a/c condenser.

No overheating problems. Car has been driven to FL from MI the last two years for the Daytona Turkey Run. Biggest prob has been keeping warm enough to get heat from heater. Even with a 180 thermostat at highway speeds, when the stat opens, the engine temp goes down.


Own '53 Commander Starliner. Red w/beige top. 350 Chev/700R4. Tilt,cruise,A/C.

11-27-2006, 09:28 PM
I can tell you that I have no success with cooling the '53 even though I had a radiator (alumninum) made by Griffin in South Carolina. I have Vintage Air also and when the weather temp gets up above 90 I have to turn the A/C off. The problem is that about one-half of the radiator is covered by the hood thus inadequate air flow for cooling. If you find a solution I would appreciate your sending me an email at riokie@alltel.net. Thanks, Chet

Dick Steinkamp
11-27-2006, 10:20 PM
quote:Originally posted by chet445
The problem is that about one-half of the radiator is covered by the hood thus inadequate air flow for cooling.

I don't think that is the problem. Lot of stock and modified 53 and 54 Studes out there with NO cooling prob (mine included). Most of the airflow through a 53-54 radiator comes from the scoop under the bumper. Check out any new car...same sort of air flow set up.

Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA

11-28-2006, 08:20 AM
see www.fifthaveinternetgarage.com for radiator diagnosis. Call Griffin and ask for a tech--I did when I did my '47 Merc. Use the largest puller fan you can find. You have to have air flow. Some ideas: Over boring, dirty internal engine, try high flow water pump, cooling liquid additives didn't work for me, partially collapsed radiator hose internally, if you are in slow traffic not enough air is going through the radiator, on and on, I've been there.......Brad

John Kirchhoff
11-29-2006, 05:27 PM
Concerning the AC, it's no surprise the Kansas unit cools great and the South Carolina unit doesn't really set the world on fire. Humidity has everything to do with cooling efficiency and the more humid it is, the less cooling an individual unit will produce regardless of the brand, size, pump type and so on.

11-29-2006, 06:52 PM
Our humidity in Kansas on the eastern side, lower elevation, is awful. We've driven to Pueblo, DesMoines, Springfield several times. We are on the Missouri River......Vintage Air Gen II....Brad