View Full Version : Other: 1957 commander T-handles on dash what are their functions? I am a newbie

10-07-2011, 12:54 AM
I am restoring a 1957 commander I know these cars are weird I have several knobs and stuff on my dash they are all unlabeled so????? does anyone know where I can see a diagram or anything? thanks

10-07-2011, 02:11 AM
Not weird, perhaps a little different by design. A T handle to the left of the steering column may well be for overdrive. Do you know what transmission you have? Reprinted owner's manuals are available and should explain the functions. I expect someone familiar with '57s can tell you what you want to know.

10-07-2011, 03:20 AM
Are you speaking of ON the dash, or UNDER the dash?
The right air air vent for fresh cool air or Heat is controlled by a black round plastic knob under the dash below the Radio Speaker Panel, maybe it had it's knob changed to a T.

Under the dash to the left of the wheel would be as Don told you, on a manual trans. car with Overdrive, the Chrome "T" handle that would ingage O.D. when pushed IN before driving. It would be easy enough to figure out though, because it is marked "O.D.".

The slide levers that go left and right are marked "Wiper" and "Heat" (Temp. setting) for the Climitizer heating and defrosting system.

After 54 years it is very possible that some things on your car are no longer stock (original). Many things on Studebakers are so easy to change from one year's type and style to another, that many people over the years could not resist doing just that for different reasons, sometimes just because they were available from another car.

You really should get the Chassis Parts Catalog, Body Parts Catalog, Shop Manual and Owners Guide all available from Stude. Parts Vendors.

10-07-2011, 08:52 AM
You really should get the Chassis Parts Catalog, Body Parts Catalog, Shop Manual and Owners Guide all available from Stude. Parts Vendors.
If you are, as you say "restoring" it, these items are absolutely essential; as is membership in the Studebaker Drivers Club.
Not required but, makes your life ten times easier.

10-07-2011, 01:29 PM
it might help if you update your signature file to show roughly where you are from, so that people can point you to local Studebaker clubs, local help and the like.

Most everything for a 57 Studebaker is still available and relatively easy (and cheap) to find--including many different types of NOS parts! Studebaker International still has some of the original factory stock which it took over from SASCO, as do other vendors

I'll ask. Commander 'what"? It makes perhaps a small difference. If it is a 2 dr coupe, the hardtop ones (if it is one of the very rare in 1957 Canadian & Export ones, which I 'think' all originally came with 6 cylinders, so perhaps no Commander K body coupes? Champion and President yes. Might be wrong--perhaps they did export some Commander 259 V8 K body coupes in 57) with a rolldown window is "K" body, and the pillared coupes with the flip out rear windows are "C" bodies. They have a different dash and some of the controls are a bit different from the 2/4 dr sedans (F and W bodies) 2/4 dr wagons (D and P bodies) There is a body tag on the passenger side of cowl under the hood near the hinge which tells you the year, engine type, body type/trim level, and body number.

However, if you have a manual transmission, a silver T handle just under the dash left of the steering wheel is the overdrive control--pulled out is "locked out" so it operates as a regular 3 speed, with no freewheeling at low speeds either (under 30 mph). Pushed in fully, it means than the overdrive 'might' work if everything is okay with the system. It would engage at about 30-35 mph, if you back off the gas pedal for half a second, and gives you a 0.7 overdrive on second (so almost but a bit less than regular 3rd gear ratio, so great for accelerating hard like onto a freeway) or on third gear, so almost a like a 4th gear. It disengages automatically when speed drops under 30, or if it is working right, also when you floor it in 3rd overdrive so it kicks back to 3rd direct drive to allow better acceleration for passing without downshifting. At low speeds, you get freewheeling like on a 10 speed bicycle, so NO engine braking, and the engine will go back to idle if you lift your foot off the gas, and then the freewheeling allows you to upshift from 1st to 2nd, or 2nd to 3rd without using the clutch--if you accelerate the engine, it then catches up, exactly the same way as coasting or pedaling on that 10 speed bike. If you DO have an overdrive transmission, the default position is leaving it in all the time, but remember, YOU MUST ALWAYS PARK YOUR CAR IN REVERSE!! Leaving it in 1st, 2nd or 3rd is NOT a good idea, because it can roll forward if the car is facing downhill on a slope and the parking brake fails!! Pulling out the lever locks out the overdrive, so no freewheeling no rolling and you always get engine braking. Overdrive is great; makes the car much more at ease on modern highways, better mileage, less noise. Tough as old boots, and if it isn't working, it is usually a small electrical fault due to bad contacts somewhere along the line, rather than something mechanical

You said Commander, so in 1957 that is a 259 V8--a 289 V8, regular or supercharged, would be a President. HTH a bit.

10-08-2011, 03:18 AM
Looks like the poster took a Vacation!

10-15-2011, 02:40 AM
BUMP! Maybe this got so buried after 8 days that the poster could not find it!

11-14-2011, 01:20 AM
Sorry I am in Jacksonville Florida It is a 1957 commander 4 door sedan with the manual transmission and thanks

11-14-2011, 03:22 AM
Good, glad you are back after 5 weeks. So does that mean that you figured out that it has a Manual 3 speed Transmission with Overdrive? Meaning you saw the O.D. stamped on a chrome "T" handle under the dash on the left of the steering wheel?

Have you ordered the Shop Manual and Parts Catalogs to help with the restoration and understanding the car?

Florida huh, there are two SDC Chapters there, North and South and lots of helpful people, also in Georgia. :)

11-18-2011, 12:23 AM
We had it in our yard for about a week not a whole lot of time to play with it before a jealous nosey neighbor called the city on it for being un tagged the inspector could not figure out what it was and wrote "unknown brown car on the citation lol but at the moment it is in the back lot of the shop thats is restoring it I will get back over to it after my honeymoon next week

11-18-2011, 12:37 AM
Florida huh, there are two SDC Chapters there, North and South and lots of helpful people, also in Georgia. :)

There are 2 SDC chapters in Georgia, Rich. But there's closer to 8 in Florida.

The Jacksonville bunch is great. If you want, I'll send you their contact info.

03-13-2012, 01:12 PM
If yall would like to take a look at what I have here ya go it is back at my house now until I can get all my ducks in a row and Just in case you wanna know she runs like a scalded dog



03-14-2012, 04:21 AM
OK, I see what happened, someone needed to replace the Overdrive Cable, so they re-located it from under the left side of the dash, TO the dash! They got an aftermarket cable with a "T" handle of some sort, and drilled a hole in the dash next to the Instrument Cluster!

That would be what all the confusion is about. All the rest are there for controlling what they go to, and the levers are marked "Heat" and "Wipers".

03-14-2012, 08:51 PM
That's a cool car, and you'll be proud to drive it. Good luck on your restoration, and don't be shy about asking questions here - we're happy to help!

03-28-2012, 10:30 PM
I traced it down and it is the hood release