PDA

View Full Version : Is a Studebaker right for me?



Spy
05-05-2014, 03:18 PM
Hello! I'm new to the forum. My name's Spyros, I'm Greek, and I am looking for a classic car. Hopefully you can help me make a decision.



So here's the deal, this will be my first true Classic car. I've owned a 1984 Volvo but I don't know that I'd consider that a classic. I'm looking for a reliable daily driver, and I put a lot of miles on my cars but I also take very good care of them. The car I'm looking at is a nearly fully restored 1965 Studebaker Commander 4-door with the Thunderbolt V8 engine. Would you consider these vehicles to be reliable? Are replacement parts easy or difficult to come by? How difficult is this car to maintain?

Any advice is appreciated, it's a beautiful car and is in my price range, but I want to know what I'm getting into. Thank you!

kamzack
05-05-2014, 03:37 PM
Probably the best choice of Studebaker to start with. 1965/66 have GM small block engines, easy to maintain, and most local parts will have parts for it. More than likely it's a 283 cu. in. When you go to buy ignition parts, I've found it's easier to ask for parts for 65/66 Chevy 283. Studebakers in general make excellent daily transportation, I drive one everyday. Go for it.
Kim

Mike Van Veghten
05-05-2014, 04:33 PM
Welcome.

I also use a Studebaker (1959 Lark) as a daily driver. As kamzack (above) stated, the Stude/Chevy 283 engine in the car you are looking at was built for many, many years, so replacement/upgrade parts are plentyfull. Just understand that the 283, the 327 and the 350 are all very close brothers, so most all parts are fully interchangeable.

My Stude has been very good to me in many miles and only once in 15+ years, left me stranded, on the freeway. And that was a thermostat problem, not really Stude related..!

Try to get a much as a history on the car as you can.
There are a hand full of Stude parts vendors that can supply you with both NOS and reproduction mechanical, suspension and some body parts. Electrical parts are also available, along with lenses and some switches.

Good luck, have fun.

Mike

warrlaw1
05-05-2014, 04:37 PM
I find it easier to get parts for my Studebaker than my 24 year old Acura. Like everyone says, the 283 was a great engine, and all things being equal, should last longer than other cars in the price range. Go for it and welcome to the forum.

Spy
05-05-2014, 04:51 PM
Thanks so much for the feedback! I'm happy to hear that the Studebaker I'm looking at should be easy to find parts for. The main bit of advice I get for a first-time classic car buyer is "Get something with easily available parts."
On a side note (and I don't mean to desecrate the car) What kind of MPG could I expect in this car? I've heard that you can upgrade to fuel injection for improved economy. Is that a difficult job? Finally, is it possible to install an air conditioning system in this car, and do you know of anyone who sells the kits to do that?

Commander Eddie
05-05-2014, 04:54 PM
Ditto. I drive a '61 Champ truck (all Studebaker) on a daily basis and it is loads of fun. It's never boring driving one of these. The attention you will get will make you smile. Have fun and happy Studebakering.

StudeRich
05-05-2014, 04:57 PM
As long as you understand that maintenance is NOT like a New Car with 10,000 Mile Oil Changes and almost no Lubrication (Lube) Jobs required.

There are around 16 Zerk Fittings to be Greased with Chassis Grease EVERY 2000 Miles along with an Oil and Filter Change.

There are a few normal Maintenance items to be periodically adjusted as well like Automatic Trans. Bands and throttle Pressure.

If you do your own Repairs and Maintenance it will be very reasonable and easy because they are simple and durable machines.

Spy
05-05-2014, 05:58 PM
As long as you understand that maintenance is NOT like a New Car with 10,000 Mile Oil Changes and almost no Lubrication (Lube) Jobs required.


One of the great things about having an older car; I can actually do my own repairs and maintenance. I love the bond it creates with the car. I'm afraid to do anything under the hood on my new 2012 vehicle, and I hate that.

Studedude
05-05-2014, 07:21 PM
You could "upgrade" to fuel injection, but I doubt you would ever recover the cost of doing so through improved fuel economy.

Air conditioning kits available here: http://www.vintageair.com/

rockne10
05-05-2014, 09:03 PM
Spyros,
You ask, "Is a Studebaker right for me? "

Given your experience and expressed desire, I would say a 65 Studebaker is the very best of all choices, provided you avail yourself of the resources of the Studebaker Drivers Club. I've heard laments from folks who just can't find what they need within the antique automobile community or the swap meets at Hershey and Carlisle.
Join the SDC and find out you never knew it could be that easy! With over 12,000 members, we tend to take our favored marque for granted.

JoeHall
05-05-2014, 09:23 PM
As others have said, a 1965/66 Stude is a good choice for first Stude. Either the six or V8 motor is very capable. In the mid to late 1980s, I had a 1965 Stude Sport Sedan with 283 motor, 2 barrel carb, single exhaust, automatic, and 3.07 rear end. If I recall it got about 17-18 MPG on the open road. It had AC which worked great, as did the heater. I often wish I had that car back.

avantilover
05-06-2014, 12:06 AM
Yassou Spyros, Air Conditioning can be fitted to the car, by means of an under dash unit. Not always easy to find an original unit, so look at Vintage Air, they should have something suitable.

Now that I've said this, one of our vendors will no doubt pop up and say " I've got one" which will be good. The units work well, my 1966 is very chilly, unfortunately it requires a new compressor which will be fitted later.

sals54
05-06-2014, 03:05 AM
Hello! I'm new to the forum. My name's Spyros, I'm Greek, and I am looking for a classic car. Hopefully you can help me make a decision.



So here's the deal, this will be my first true Classic car. I've owned a 1984 Volvo but I don't know that I'd consider that a classic. I'm looking for a reliable daily driver, and I put a lot of miles on my cars but I also take very good care of them. The car I'm looking at is a nearly fully restored 1965 Studebaker Commander 4-door with the Thunderbolt V8 engine. Would you consider these vehicles to be reliable? Are replacement parts easy or difficult to come by? How difficult is this car to maintain?

Any advice is appreciated, it's a beautiful car and is in my price range, but I want to know what I'm getting into. Thank you!

Welcome aboard.
I will deviate from the consensus above. Most seem to think that the 65 4 door is the best choice for the variety of reasons noted.
I would suggest you look around and find a body style that stirs you. Then consider moving in the direction that takes you.
The Studebaker V8s are as reliable as the Chevy engines. They have as much or more power and are a pleasure to drive. Other than the engine itself, the rest of the cars' mechanicals are the same as most other Studes since 1951. Take a look at the Bullet Nose style, the 53s and 54s, and the Finned Hawk line. See if any of those create any stirrings, then proceed to look for one which will suit your ambitions.
Cuz, maybe its time to break away from the boxy styling of the Volvo, (and the 65 Stude), and go for the sexy curves of the Hawks?

rockne10
05-06-2014, 04:57 AM
Agree in total with you, Sal but, Spyros indicates the '65 is there, extant, solid, available and interesting. Would you advise he pass because it is a Chevy McKinnon rather than a South Bend powerplant?

avantilover
05-06-2014, 05:16 AM
Personally, the McKinnon makes the car lighter and my 1966 Daytona is a joy to drive, much prefer it to my 1962, but was happy with that one as well.

stude dude
05-06-2014, 05:55 AM
The Mckinnon V8 is not a bad motor, but they do half the mileage of a Stude V8, use more fuel, are more difficult to service, and don't have the torque of a 259 despite what is shown on paper.

But they are lighter so steering is a bit easier in cars without power steering. And SOME parts are cheaper although many have now become far dearer.

Chris.

Jessie J.
05-06-2014, 09:18 AM
On paper, they are capable of doing twice the mileage ...because the thicker cylinder walls and castings give the Studebaker V-8 the potential for several more rebuilds than the small block Chevy engine.
In my experience, living in the Northern States, the difference is usually moot as the Studebaker body and chassis degrades much quicker than their engines, and usually ends up as an undriveable 'needs restoration' project or parts car well before the engine ever needs a third rebuild.

I presently own 5 Studebaker 259-289 V-8's, and 2 with Stude 6's. Presently I'm half way into the middle of a trip in my 1995 Chevy work van (with 250,000 miles on its original and never been rebuilt small block V-8) hauling a 24' enclosed trailer on a 1000 mile round trip to retrieve the rest of my Studebaker collection from Eastern Kentucky. Five trips down this summer and three to go, each toting some 8,000 lbs.

Have owned 3 'Chevybaker's' and each of them lasted well over 200,000 miles on the original engines, but had to be junked when the frames rusted into tissue paper (still have most of the salvageable parts)
I certainly do love my Studes, and been into them since 1962, but no reason to knock the SBC. My other 'daily driver' Chevy van now has 520,000 on its original and never been rebuilt engine and drive train.

If Spy's prospective Commander purchase has a good running 283 now, its a pretty good bet that with regular oil changes and routine maintenance that it has plenty of miles left in its 283.

Spy
05-06-2014, 12:27 PM
I would suggest you look around and find a body style that stirs you.
Cuz, maybe its time to break away from the boxy styling of the Volvo, (and the 65 Stude), and go for the sexy curves of the Hawks?

I do agree with you sal, I would MUCH rather go for a car with curves or fins. As a teen, my worst nightmare was to end up with a boxy car like the several Volvos I've owned since. However, I am on a tight budget, and reliability is key. Simply put, I haven't come across -any- classic car in such nice condition as this 65 Commander within my price range. Honestly I would sacrifice some condition for a more stand-out style, but nothing comes close in my price range.

warrlaw1
05-06-2014, 12:29 PM
I loved my Volvo 144 until I drove it into a bridge. Keep that 65 Stude on the road and at least it won't depreciate.

avantilover
05-07-2014, 04:32 AM
The Mckinnon V8 is not a bad motor, but they do half the mileage of a Stude V8, use more fuel, are more difficult to service, and don't have the torque of a 259 despite what is shown on paper.

But they are lighter so steering is a bit easier in cars without power steering. And SOME parts are cheaper although many have now become far dearer.

Chris. Well, as I now have 3 Lincoln Continental cars soon to appear in Australia, I imagine the Studebaker will last forever LOL.

1978 Mark V Pucci Designer Edition, 1978 Town Car Coupe Collector Series, 1979 Town Car Sedan Collector Series.

EssexExport
05-07-2014, 07:26 AM
Any car making it to 25 years of age would be considered a classic.

Mrs K Corbin
05-07-2014, 07:51 AM
I'm partial to the trucks myself...... Sexy styling and easy to maintain!

jclary
05-07-2014, 10:18 AM
Well...I've waited to comment. I wanted to see the opinions of others and I believe you have been given lots of good information gained from years of experience. My thoughts are not necessarily Studebaker as a classic car choice, but ANY classic car. In post #8, you were given excellent advice. Your response to that post was very good. I believe that there are some folks who should never have a classic car of any kind. These are the people who have "unrealistic" expectations about the cars. Also, folks who do not have the skills to do their own work, lack the funds to pay others to do the work, fall behind in paying bills, and cause relationships to suffer because of it...probably shouldn't have a classic car.

Personally, I enjoy the constant learning, tinkering, and mechanical efforts to keep these vehicles going. I'm currently working on getting the front suspension tightened up on my '48 to make it more "roadable." Due to other demands on my time, a couple of health setbacks, and various other things (excuses), the project is now several months old.

As far as "daily driver"...I've learned, over the years, to always own a "back-up" car that is newer and reliable. I was in industrial sales, a self-starter, with no one constantly looking over my shoulder. I planned my itinerary with built-in flexibility. I rarely used my "classic" when I had a set time to make an appointment over a long distance. I also learned to use my "classic" when it could be an advantage to my sales efforts. Early in my career, there was a certain furniture company that I had called on for a couple of months without getting beyond the lobby. One spring morning, the company president's parking place was occupied by a stunning Model A Roadster. I drove home and returned in my equally clean 1955 Studebaker truck. Luckily, the parking spot next to the Roadster was empty. Before I could get out of my truck, the owner of the company was standing there to greet me. We became good friends. That little meeting helped to make me thousands in gross profit per month for years. I had a similar experience with my 1951 Land Cruiser... calling on the new BMW operation when it came to South Carolina.

On the negative side, I once had a crooked purchasing agent who was always looking for a free lunch, or kickbacks. This guy was always focused on that sort of thing. In conversation, he sometimes mentioned cars, as most men do. I mistakenly thought I could impress him with one of my cars. At that time, I owned a 62 GT four speed Hawk. It was black with red interior. I drove him to lunch on "my day" (to buy his lunch). All he did was poke fun at the size of the steering wheel and Bat-mobile" appearance. That experience taught me that, just because I am impressed with a "classic," not everyone shares the passion. As a side note about that particular purchasing agent...I recall him being unceremoniously escorted from his office and off the plant's property a few weeks later.

My conclusion is that if you can accept the potential hazards of any "classic"...then a Studebaker is for you. Few other makes have the resources available through the SDC and it's extended benefits (Turning Wheels magazine, this forum, vendors, and local chapters.)

When considering Studebaker, think about how the unassuming Forest Gump kept finding himself in places of great historical situations in that movie (meeting JFK, Richard Nixon, Vietnam, etc.) Before the automobile, Studebaker was there supplying Conestogas for the great wagon trains of the Oregon trail, the great Gold Rush, and War between the States. Provided vehicles in WWI, and WWII. They witnessed the industrial revolution, advent of Aviation into the Space Age. A legacy unequaled by any other vehicle manufacturer.

One other thing, WELCOME TO THE FORUM.:!:

Spy
05-07-2014, 12:20 PM
Thank you John for the warm welcome, story, and advice! I'm excited to become part of your community. As much as the 65 Commander's "boxy styling" doesn't excite me, my girlfriend is crazy about it and can hardly wait for me to buy the car. I am running into some trouble with the dealership; They "specialize in more expensive cars and donít have the time or inclination" to speak with me, it would seem. I'm not sure what the issue is, as they have the car up for sale, but I'm finding it hard to communicate with them.

I've still got my eyes out on Craigslist looking for any other options. Wish me luck.

warrlaw1
05-08-2014, 09:18 AM
Make an offer with your contact info and LEAVE. Wait a few days and send a friend in with a lower offer. Then wait for the call. Cheers.