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Avalanche325
01-08-2006, 09:50 PM
I just joined tonight, so I thought I would introduce myself.

I have been wanting to get a classic car again and have been looking around at a few different things. I have had a 67 Olds, and a 66 Mustang Fastback in the past. I started looking at things like a Cobra kit. I figured that I would never get my wife in the Cobra. That would ruin half the fun and drastically reduce the driving time. Plus I would never quite get past the kit car thing.

So I started looking at Mustangs again. I only like fastbacks, and the prices have gotten pretty crazy for them. I also have a little bit of "been there.....done that" going on. I totally restored mine myself, except for paint work, and drove it for ten years. But I was still looking to get up on current pricing.

Well, my wife and I were watching the movie "Ray" a couple weeks ago. In one part they were in a bullet-nose. My wife said "That's nice. What is it?" So I told here. Then the light went on. I had driven a 53 Starlight coupe when I was a teenager. I thought it was a beautiful car. I pulled up some pictures and we are BOTH excited. What a great car. Classic, something really different, and great styling. Just what I had in mind.

So, I am mainly interested in a 53 or 54 coupe or hardtop. I have a couple questions.

Are there any good Studebaker books out there? I am not at the point of needing shop manuals yet. I would like some detail on the subtle differences between the two years, the models, options, etc. I know Mustangs inside and out, but am a Stude newbie.

Are there any buyers guides? What to look for, such as problem areas, options, how to tell what is original / correct, etc?

Thanks for the help. I am sure a million questions are yet to come.

Chris

Scott
01-08-2006, 10:18 PM
Hi Chris,

Welcome to the club! There are many good books about Studebakers, but for the years you are interested in I would suggest "Studebaker's Finest" a book concentrating solely, as I recall, on the 1953 and 1954 models. I think the author is Jeff Bridges and I'm sure you can order a copy from Studebaker International, or SASCO, or probably some other vendors advertising in Turning Wheels.

Another great source of information would be the back issues of Turning wheels that concentrate on the 1953-4 models. I hope one of the other members can find the pertinent issue numbers for you. Cornerstone Registration handles back issue sales.

I hope that helps.

Dick Steinkamp
01-08-2006, 10:25 PM
quote:Originally posted by Avalanche325

I just joined tonight, so I thought I would introduce myself.

I have been wanting to get a classic car again and have been looking around at a few different things. I have had a 67 Olds, and a 66 Mustang Fastback in the past. I started looking at things like a Cobra kit. I figured that I would never get my wife in the Cobra. That would ruin half the fun and drastically reduce the driving time. Plus I would never quite get past the kit car thing.

So I started looking at Mustangs again. I only like fastbacks, and the prices have gotten pretty crazy for them. I also have a little bit of "been there.....done that" going on. I totally restored mine myself, except for paint work, and drove it for ten years. But I was still looking to get up on current pricing.

Well, my wife and I were watching the movie "Ray" a couple weeks ago. In one part they were in a bullet-nose. My wife said "That's nice. What is it?" So I told here. Then the light went on. I had driven a 53 Starlight coupe when I was a teenager. I thought it was a beautiful car. I pulled up some pictures and we are BOTH excited. What a great car. Classic, something really different, and great styling. Just what I had in mind.

So, I am mainly interested in a 53 or 54 coupe or hardtop. I have a couple questions.

Are there any good Studebaker books out there? I am not at the point of needing shop manuals yet. I would like some detail on the subtle differences between the two years, the models, options, etc. I know Mustangs inside and out, but am a Stude newbie.

Are there any buyers guides? What to look for, such as problem areas, options, how to tell what is original / correct, etc?

Thanks for the help. I am sure a million questions are yet to come.

Chris



Chris,
You've picked a beautiful car for your next one!

Keep in mind that only about 32,000 '53 hardtops were made, 46,000 '53 coupes, 9,000 '54 hardtops, and 18,000 '54 coupes. (Compare this with 654,000 2 door 1953 Chevrolets and 594,000 1954 2 door Chevrolets!). Not only were there not too many produced, but there are not too many that are left (maybe 10% of the original total?). Also there isn't quite the volume of information on the Studebakers as there is for the Chevrolets. Join the Studebaker Driver's Club and hang out here, however, and you'll be surprised just how much info there is on these relatively rare cars.

A good starting book is "Studebaker's Finest...A History and Restoration Guide for the '53-'54 Studebaker Sports Coupe" by John Bridges.

-Dick-

N8N
01-09-2006, 09:28 AM
Another thing to keep in mind, if you decide to stay "bone stock" is that the cars improved steadily over the years, therefore a newer car will likely be a better car as a driver than an older one. The '54 models had much better brakes than the '53. The '55, if you can get past the ugly grille, has the 259 engine instead of the 232 and the same improved brakes as the '54. Unless you really like the style of the hardtop enough to swing your decision in that direction, the coupes are often a better choice, as they did not have the rust-prone rocker boxes and the windows are less likely to leak (well, likely to leak less.) Am also told that they have fewer squeaks and rattles, although my own '55 coupe still has a few (mostly the loose trim strip on the driver's door and the trunk lid, and the loose regulator for the driver's window, all of which I hope to address in the near future.) Dual exhaust also did not become available on the C-K models until 1955; although it would be a bolt on for earlier cars it would not be "correct."

For rust; pay close attention to the rocker boxes/"hog troughs" on hardtop models; other common rust areas are the rear edge of the front fenders, and the bottom of the quarter panels in front of the rear wheels. Mud tends to build up in these areas and draw damp, with predictable results. The quarter panels bolt on, so repair of them isn't a huge problem, but R&R can be "challenging" on hardtop models. The front fenders are a little more difficult but a good body man should be able to handle it; however a proper repair of more than minor rust will probably involve R&Ring the front fender. Also the frames are fully boxed, so make sure the bottom plate of the frame is solid the whole length of the car. Also check the frame for cracking around the front spring pockets and at the bolts where the upper control arm inner shafts bolt to the frame. Anything can be repaired, but any issues here should factor in to your offer. The inner control arm bushings will likely be shot unless they have been recently replaced, this is not a huge deal to fix however. All front end rebuild parts are readily available.

I'm not a big fan of power steering, but IMHO if you find a car with the Saginaw integral power box that is a Good Thing(tm.) Most Commanders and Presidents (I assume you want a V-8!) without power steering used a Ross manual box which is prone to premature wear and failed seals. There was a Saginaw manual box used which is much better (it's a recirculating ball unit rather than cam and lever like the Ross) but it seems to have been mostly used on early Champions and is somewhat rare.

The potmetal grilles for all 53-55 models are getting hard to find in good condition; a car with good chrome on these items or at least good replateable cores is definitely a bonus. The good thing is other than the taillight housings (also hard to find) virtually all of the remaining exterior trim is stainless and can be repolished to looks very nice.

Obviously also asses things like wiring, looking for repaired accident damage, condition of paint and interior, etc. - I have just tried to hit some of the things that are specific to these particular models.

good luck,

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
62 Daytona hardtop
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

BobPalma
01-09-2006, 09:38 AM
:) Chris: Welcome to the club and your return to Studebaker ownership...hopefully. Hemmings Motor News (the big old-car "bible") is ramping up their editorial content. One feature coming up is a Buyer's Guide to 1955 President Speedsters. Much of the general material in that article will be of interest to you. I think it is planned for March or April this year. [:I] Again, welcome aboard. BP

Avalanche325
01-09-2006, 10:24 AM
I am not sure exactly which route I am going to take as far a stock or not. The way I had my Mustang was "stock appearance" but with performance and safety upgrades. I may do the same. Seatbelts and brakes are definately on the list for safety sake.

I actually think I like the coupe a little better than the hardtop. I think the pillar looks good. That is hard to imagine, because I usually somehow pick the hardest thing to find.

I realize that the search my be a bit tough due to low production numbers and age. That is why I want to be ready and educated when the opportunity does come around.

Thanks for the information.

65cruiser
01-09-2006, 10:41 AM
The production numbers may be low, but these appear on Ebay from time to time. I would think if you REALLY wanted one--it's not going to be that hard to find one. The CONDITION you find one in will be the bigger variable.

________________________
Mark Anderson
1965 Cruiser
http://home.alltel.net/anderm

http://home.alltel.net/anderm/images/smstude.jpg

Roscomacaw
01-09-2006, 11:19 AM
Welcome to our mania![:p] As Nate says, the 55s are eligible for consideration from a technical standpoint - even if you can't abide by the extra brightwork they carried (and not ALL 55's had the big "butterknife" mouldings down their sides). For myself, I don't find the 55 grilles to be "ugly" as Nate suggested. Like anything else, beauty's in the eye of the beholder.[B)]
There DOES seem to be LOTS more 55s available for rehabbing than 53s or 54s. And again, as Nate pointed out, you get a better engine (better in the sense of increased displacement and better breathing) and better brakes in the deal (and the 54-up brakes ARE vastly improved over the 53's brakes).
Thing is, both the better engine and improved brakes are a bolt-on/in transplant from ANY 54 or later Stude V8 car. So there's plenty of donors out there, still![^]
Since the engine block was virtually unchanged from '51 thru '64, you could even go with the 289 variant and it would take a well-trained eye to discern that it wasn't the original engine in place;)
As has been mentioned, John Bridges book, Studebaker's Finest is a good Start PLUS another book he wrote: "Bob Bourke designs for Studebaker". It was Bob Bourke who designed the classic Coupe/Hardtop duo for Studebaker (C and K cars respectively, in Studebaker parlance;))
As with just about ANY Studebaker, RUST is the primary pest. Rust in the floorboards, rust in the fenders and rust around the rear of the body in these C - K cars. A little bit of rust is not hard to deal with. But look closely at any candidate you're considering buying. Bondo's cheap and paint covers LOTS of sins![}:)]

Miscreant at large.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President 2-dr
1955 President State
1951 Champion Biz cpe
1963 Daytona project FS

BeeJay
01-09-2006, 11:28 AM
Just so happens that I know where a drivable '53 "K" is for sale. It is a Champ (6 Cyl) w/auto Red with Ivory top. Pretty decent shape, some of the trim has been painted rather than re-plated, but it is all there. Interior is decent. I tried to buy it myself several years ago, but the owner would'nt sell. A friend bought it last year, but I think he just wanted to turn it. He is asking $11,000 which I think is too high, but he may be fishing and will come down. The car is in a western suburb of Detroit. I can get phone # for anyone who wants it, but may take a couple of days.

Bob

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

N8N
01-09-2006, 11:29 AM
oh yeah, I forgot about floors... unless you have a southwestern cars, simply plan on doing some repair in the front floors :(

Also check the trunk corners; the hinges wear badly to the detriment of the weathertightness of the trunk, with predictable results... good news is patch panels are available for the body mounts in the trunk, and also the front floorboards.

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
62 Daytona hardtop
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

Dick Steinkamp
01-09-2006, 11:35 AM
quote:Originally posted by N8N


The potmetal grilles for all 53-55 models are getting hard to find in good condition; a car with good chrome on these items or at least good replateable cores is definitely a bonus. The good thing is other than the taillight housings (also hard to find) virtually all of the remaining exterior trim is stainless and can be repolished to looks very nice.


A pair of "fair" '53 grill surrounds just closed on eBay for about $350 each. I remember complaining about ones like this fetching $100 (and that was only a couple of years ago). I was telling a fellow Stude club member about these at our meeting yesterday and he reminded me that a good '34 Ford grill is $2,500 and up. Kind of puts things in perspective.[^]

-Dick-

Roscomacaw
01-09-2006, 11:59 AM
Yeah, And what befuddles me is that it would be SO easy to repop these 53-54 shells and bars in glass! WHY hasn't this been done???

The 55's grilles need to be done in glass too! This would take the pressure off the pot metal pieces and leave them for the dead stock resto efforts!:D

Miscreant at large.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President 2-dr
1955 President State
1951 Champion Biz cpe
1963 Daytona project FS

Dick Steinkamp
01-09-2006, 12:32 PM
quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs

Yeah, And what befuddles me is that it would be SO easy to repop these 53-54 shells and bars in glass! WHY hasn't this been done???

The 55's grilles need to be done in glass too! This would take the pressure off the pot metal pieces and leave them for the dead stock resto efforts!:D



<h3>Yea, but...some of us "other types" like a little bling bling too [8D].
http://static.flickr.com/37/84437281_b3ef0b391c.jpg

Wasn't someone repoping the 53 grill surrounds in chrome plated brass?

-Dick-</h3>

N8N
01-09-2006, 12:52 PM
Yes, Dave Thibeault has repro'd the surrounds. AFAIK they aren't cheap, though, and if you have nothing you still need to track down the center bars...

which reminds me, some day when I have money I still need to get my pass. side parking light housing replated... :(

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
62 Daytona hardtop
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

wcarroll@outrageous.net
01-09-2006, 12:59 PM
Yes Dick -years back I purchased a pair of brass reproduction grilles. They were really rough and really heavy! They needed so much finish work -I ended up cutting them loose because they would have been a nightmnare to work with. These were the unplated offerings. Not sure if the plated ones were all that much better. I'm all about the grille bling on these cars too! I'm saving up as we speak cause I know it aint going to be cheap to replate mine. Also purchased a fiberglass front grille section from the Glass Shop years back and figured it wouldn't be too hard to cut the grilles out of the panel and use them individually. Love the shot you posted of your car! -Will

Roscomacaw
01-10-2006, 05:01 PM
Dick's black beauty has graced my driveway a time or two. (Yes, I allow him to park it on the property even tho it has some sort of Brand X motor in it[}:)]) It's always an inspiration to see.;)

I agree with the worth of brightwork, Dick - so many are opting for painted trim parts nowdays tho, with the current wave of monotone-mobiles - but glass copies would be a boon to cusstomizers and chrome lovers.[:p]

Miscreant at large.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President 2-dr
1955 President State
1951 Champion Biz cpe
1963 Daytona project FS

Avalanche325
01-10-2006, 05:47 PM
That is one beautiful front end! That grill looks flawless.

I wouldn't mind seeing a few more pictures.

rockne10
01-10-2006, 09:06 PM
My 53 Coupe is coming back together after languishing for twenty years. I hope to have it done for Spring 2007 and will definitely put in an appearance at the 2008 International.

I got my grills back from Pot Metal Restorations in Tallahassee and they did an outstanding job filling thousands of pits.:) They look better than original but it did take 15 big bills.[:0][:0][:0][:0]

"Studebaker's Finest" is still available from SI for $39.95. Item #800052.

commander56
01-11-2006, 06:47 PM
welcome to the group. glad you liked the movie ray. my "other " old car was used in the movie. it was the green 55 oldsmobile 98 used by ray's agents. still on the whole i'd rather be driving my 56 commander

N8N
01-12-2006, 11:22 AM
Forgot to add, Bob, if you look at a pic of my car and then a pic of Dick's car (never mind that his is in much better shape; it's just that they're similarly done, all-black cars) you will see that the '53 front end is way more aesthetically appealing than the '55.

Now if they'd come out with the '55 design *first,* then introduced the '54 and finally the '53, we'd all be talking about how much Studebaker styling had improved over the years :)

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
62 Daytona hardtop
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

Avalanche325
01-12-2006, 11:39 AM
Too bad they didn't stick with the '55 prototype with the mesh grills. That one is very nice looking.

studegary
01-12-2006, 03:23 PM
quote:Originally posted by Avalanche325

Too bad they didn't stick with the '55 prototype with the mesh grills. That one is very nice looking.


I believe that the car that you refer to as a "prototype" really was Bob Bourke's personal car. It was a 1954 Starliner modified to what Bob thought should be done. It was not a Studebaker prototype. The car still exists. I was quite involved with bringing this car back to good condition when Bob owned it. Studebaker management insisted on a very chrome covered face for 1955, like a Buick - which is what Studebaker was priced like. The mesh grile was on Bourke's car and a full width grille with vertical bars was on Loewy's Starliner. There was also another '53 Starliner with a different full width grille.

bills 57 champion
01-12-2006, 03:33 PM
thanks guys for all your input i will let you guys know how i make out this is my first stude and the car is in great shape i just wish there was more clubs close to me in nh for studes and more on line for pictures of 57 champion 2dr

studegary
01-12-2006, 03:42 PM
quote:Originally posted by bills 57 champion

thanks guys for all your input i will let you guys know how i make out this is my first stude and the car is in great shape i just wish there was more clubs close to me in nh for studes and more on line for pictures of 57 champion 2dr



The Tri-Spokes Chapter of SDC covers VT, NH and ME. They are quite active and put out a newsletter. I would suggest joining that chapter to assist yourself in making local contacts. This year's SDC Northeast Zone Meet will be held in NH in July.

Avalanche325
01-12-2006, 05:09 PM
Studegary,
I have see a picture of Bourke's car, listed as a prototype is a 50s coffee table book. Do you have, or know where there are pictures of the other two cars you mentioned?

It is interesting that the chromed mesh is very much in style on high end cars like Bentley and the Jaguar "R" types today.

studegary
01-13-2006, 02:34 PM
quote:Originally posted by Avalanche325

Studegary,
I have see a picture of Bourke's car, listed as a prototype is a 50s coffee table book. Do you have, or know where there are pictures of the other two cars you mentioned?

It is interesting that the chromed mesh is very much in style on high end cars like Bentley and the Jaguar "R" types today.


There are pictures of all three cars in John Bridges' book; Studebaker's Finest. This book was recently discussed on another thread here. (I just realized that you were the one that started the thread that I refer to.)

Avalanche325
01-13-2006, 10:21 PM
Great. My book is already on the way!!!

I am starting my Stude education. Then, I will hopefully have enough information to start looking for a car.