View Full Version : Engine: 289 Swap

07-11-2011, 10:58 PM
First, my apologies for this--I'm sure this has been discussed numerous times. I've spent the last several days searching the forum and reading everything I could find on the subject but still have some questions. I have a 53 Champion Coupe.

I stumbled across the drive train from a 64 GT Hawk (289, 3-spd O/D, 3.73 TT) for sale by a fellow member of the local chapter. I had the opportunity to drive the car for a long distance and am confident in the condition. I have purchased this and will pick it up this weekend.

My remaining questions:

1. What else do I need for the swap? I'm thinking V-8 radiator, front and rear springs. 12-volt conversion (unless I swap the flywheel to a 6-cylinder model?) Avanti motor mounts? Backdraft carb and manifold so it fits under the hood?

I have already done the turner disc brake swap in the front, and am in the process of completing the dual master cylinder conversion along with all new (hard and soft) brake lines.

2. Frame strengthening? Is finding and installing a batwing adequate? Anything else? My frame is in good condition, and I'm trying to avoid a frame-off situation as I don't have the space to do this comfortably. The 64 GT frame will be available if I absolutely need to/have to go that route.

And finally,

3. Should I do this? I'm somewhat torn--I had a very strong desire to do a restoration on this car because it is such a plain model (only options were hill holder and o/d -- no heat, no radio, no turn signals) and you just don't see those anymore. But some of the parts I'd need (rubber mats, original seat covers) are nearly impossible to obtain.

My next thought was to do the Cathcart-style dual carb/finned head/split exhaust upgrades. They're beautiful. But then I saw that video of Pat's 312 (thanks a LOT JDP! :p) and have often seen Jack Vines' wise recommendation to go with the V8. . .and this entire set up was far, far less expensive than the hop-up parts.

This car will be a driver. And I'm committed to keeping it Stude-powered.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

07-12-2011, 12:53 AM
Dave, My 2 cents worth. Don't worry too much about the frame situation for now. If the GT frame comes available, then keep it for later. For now, don't get in over your head. Once the body is off the frame, you are committed to a MAJOR project. If the car is intact, then proceed with the engine swap. Remember, people were swapping high torque Cadillac engines into these cars in the 50s. Do the 289 swap since its a bolt in. Drive the car and enjoy it. You'll know if the frame is too weak as you drive it through the years. If at some point in the future, you feel it needs the heavy frame, then do the swap. At that point it will be much easier. All the systems will be working as they should and it will simply be a matter of moving them from one frame to another. My 54 Champion has a slightly heavier gage frame than yours, but I've been running an R1 289 with a 4 speed for decades. Before that I had a hot running 259 3 spd, and before that a 259 auto. I've never had frame issues. Its been 40 years. I doubt that you'll have any problems using yours as a driver. I beat the heck out of mine and it never complains. By the way, you can help your car out by checking the body mounts. They have rubber spacers between the body and frame. Check them to be sure you don't have gaps from settling. The body is an important part of the structural integrity. Good luck

Tom B
07-12-2011, 08:10 AM
What Sal said, Ditto.

The car was designed to have a V8 in it, the 6, even with the Hop Up, just isn't the same.

Put in the 289 and enjoy it. The OD transmission is the best fit, too.

07-12-2011, 09:09 AM
You also want to replace your rear axle with one with a lower ratio. The 64 hawk would have had a Dana 44 with a lower axle ratio. My 54 champion has 4.56 gears in it, which would not be necessary with a 289.

Also, the 64 o/d transmission has a long tailshaft, and your 53 has a short one. So I believe that you will need to shorten the front part of the 2 piece driveshaft in your 53, or take out the crossmember and run the driveshaft from the 64.

You might also want a 53-54 commander radiator and fan shroud?

Good luck, and post pictures!

Mike Van Veghten
07-12-2011, 10:44 AM
Again...what Sal said.

Just do the V-8 swap, you'll be much happier in the end.
The frame, (as long as there are no cracks now) should be fine...unless you plan on doing any off-roading with the finished product. Big Cadillac's, big block Chevys, 392 Chrysler Hemi's...have all been installed in those early I-6 frames. While the Stude V-8's ARE heavy, they don't have near the torque (ripping power !) as the aformentioned engines.

Have fun.


07-12-2011, 08:19 PM
Thanks all. Sounds like a straightforward swap.

To 54stude--I'm getting the entire drive train, including the rear end, so I'm thinking it should cruise along as effortlessly as the GT Hawk did. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm thinking I'll grab the driveshaft from the 64 while I'm there--that seems like the easiest route.

Sal--I'll be sure to check the body mounts. Thanks for the reassurance on the frame.

Tom and Mike--thanks. I'm looking forward to driving it around!

07-12-2011, 08:32 PM
Any thoughts on carbs and hood clearance?

07-12-2011, 09:01 PM
The C/K/Hawk hoods are all the same, so any carb and air cleaner from one of these should fit.

jack vines

07-12-2011, 09:03 PM
The C/K/Hawk hoods are all the same, so any carb and air cleaner from one of these should fit.

jack vines

Thanks Jack. I should've been able to figure that out on my own. . . :)

07-13-2011, 03:52 AM
As to the Carb. you do not need to run a backdraft 2 Brl. you can run a new Edelbrock AFB Carter Clone and Avanti Air Cleaner (with adapter).

You do not need Avanti R3 & 4 (short) Engine mounts, as '53 Commanders had the same V-8 Block as your 289 Hawk had and it all fit under the hood.

You will need to upgrade the; Radiator, Clutch, Transmission, Driveshaft, Rear End, Brakes, Front Springs and Elecrical to 12 Volt.

07-13-2011, 12:07 PM
If you have purchased the drive train, does it come attached to the 64 car which you have driven for long distances? <GGG>
I am taking for granted that the body of the (rare) 64 is A) too far gone, but the frame and all the drive train is good, or B) perhaps the 64 is good, but the owner is going to be doing a complete new Brand X suspension, frame and drive train?

Why then not...just lift the 64 body off the frame, and replace it with the 53 body?? You would achieve the later radiator, clutch, driveshaft, rear end (TT!) front springs, heavier frame and 12 Volt electrical in one fell swoop. The 64 body could be parted out if option A, or returned to the seller of the drive train if B. Either way, there is a good oportunity to work on the drive train and body with both of them separated.

Does this sound like a do-able option? Any particular problems which would be encountered between a 53 and 64 body/frame switch such as placements of certain items and mounts? I know it would be a pain for you to take off and re-install the Turner brake kit this way, but everything else would be more or less a guaranteed match, right?

07-13-2011, 12:30 PM
Jim, Good idea! If the '53 is a coupe it would almost be a bolt on. The '64 frame has a pair of "outrigger" style body mounts that will interfere with a hardtops' torque boxes. The '64 has a one piece drive shaft and does not have the center crossmember for the drive shaft support bearing. If you use the one piece from the '64 you may have some clearance issues on the tunnel, but nothing too hard to overcome. The rear gas tank mount might have to be altered if you use the '53 tank. You would then have the advantage of the heavier gauge frame, improved rear springs, better front end geometry etc. Eleven years of improvements.

07-13-2011, 12:56 PM
Rich--that's good news on the carb. Thanks.

Jim B and Dwight--the current owner is grabbing the power steering, much of the interior/dash and electrical out of the car. It has serious rot (floors, A-pillars at least), so I'd probably really want to do a thorough investigation of the frame before doing that level of swap. I did ask about the frame, and his response was that it would be available later if I wanted it (once he finished stripping the car) but in the meanwhile he needed it to be a roller (he's throwing an old rear end back under it) until he's finished working with it. I'm happy enough getting the bits that I have (like most Stude people he's been very accommodating) so I'll defer to his plans. Thanks tho--while that's the best idea, I'm not sure it will be available to me as an option at this time.

07-21-2011, 07:24 PM
Hey folks , the addition of the "Bat Wing" will really help the overall stiffness of the vehicle. Go for it!

07-21-2011, 07:44 PM
Thanks Doofus. I'll be looking to source one.

I went and picked up everything last weekend and got it home without incident. I'm in the process of making an adapter to fit it to my engine stand so I can clean it up, paint and replace gaskets and seals, and am making a list of things needed for the exchange. I've ordered the Fifth Avenue Garage booklet on 12 volt conversions, and am trying to be patient and do it right instead of just throw everything in there so I can drive it on Drive Your Studebaker Day (I still might get there, but that's a lot of work if I do it right--I need to clean, de-surface rust (batteries are evil things) and paint the engine bay as one of those good to do while things are accessible deals.

My biggest temptation at the moment is to throw the rear end in place and connect it up to my existing drive train as I clean up/go through everything else. Anyone know if I can do that with my existing driveshaft? I have the rear springs out of a V8 Hawk that are the right length that were thrown in with the deal. . .(I'm trying to avoid running new brake lines on the existing rear end then having to redo them when I swap it out for the TT.)

07-21-2011, 07:57 PM
I do not believe that your driveshaft will be the correct length with a 44 differential.

07-22-2011, 11:39 PM
Thanks Gary. I figured it was too good to be true, but didn't hurt to ask.

07-23-2011, 01:45 AM
Don't be too concerned about the two piece driveshaft. I know Dick Stienkamp (sp), had a very warm 327 and 4 speed in his beautiful black 53 Hardtop and it ran the two piece driveshaft and never had trouble with it.

07-23-2011, 02:13 PM
Don't be too concerned about the two piece driveshaft. I know Dick Stienkamp (sp), had a very warm 327 and 4 speed in his beautiful black 53 Hardtop and it ran the two piece driveshaft and never had trouble with it.

It wasn't the two piece driveshaft that I was concerned with. I have built modified C/Ks and retained the two piece driveshaft. I thought that he was going from a 27 to a 44 and that the existing driveshaft would be too long.

07-23-2011, 02:32 PM
Yes, Gary is correct--my concern was if the existing driveshaft would fit if I swapped the 44 rear in to replace the 27. This is so if I wanted to drive the car with the existing motor but would change out the rear end so I wouldn't have to do the brake lines twice. . .