View Full Version : Need advice- might be taking the plunge on a '47

Robert J III
06-13-2014, 02:53 PM
I've come across a '47 Commander Starlight coupe. Thinking about buying it. I've always had a thing for the post-war Studebakers. It's in good shape overall. Any advice? Any opinions about things like - how hard is it to find parts, biggest things to look for, etc. I appreciate all input.

06-13-2014, 03:50 PM
Welcome, Robert. First year for the Starlight and "First by far with a post-war car". Same basic body tub through 52. Should be lots of metal parts available and it should have the big six cylinder, hopefully with overdrive. The mechanical parts are readily available. Shop manuals and body and chassis parts books are available re-popped and on CD. Studebaker International's Catalogue will also encourage you. Take some pics and let the guys, here, give it a critical gaze.

Robert J III
06-16-2014, 10:47 AM
It's pretty solid. No rust, etc. Some minor trim needs. Not original paint or interior. (I don't even think white was a color option on these in '47?). Whoever worked on it previously added dual exhaust pipes, which I would change. Does have OD. A mechanic friend who looked at it with me suggested getting a compression check after we drove it, doesn't seem to have the power it should. Best value estimate I can find is around 8-9K. Thoughts?


06-16-2014, 11:23 AM
Looks solid and someone did a nice refurb. Lots of accessories...bumper extensions, exhaust extensions. If it IS the Commander six, it should have adequate power. They are worth an overhaul. If it's that solid and driveable, you're in the right price range.

06-16-2014, 11:39 AM
It has some good options like quite rare Tinted Glass.
You are right about the White, that was territory never tread on, in early 1950's and before.

Lets hope it only has tune issues like wrong Ignition timing or crossed Plug wires, but it sure would be good to know if the compression is low, because 8 or 9000 would be WAY too much.

06-16-2014, 12:07 PM
Welcome Robert! I have a 1948 Champion Business Coupe that I restored myself. The Commanders are heavier and (in my opinion) better built cars. If you have skills, (or can learn)...love to tinker...and enjoy challenging projects...this could be one of the most fun experiences of your life. Having to hire most of the work, could put you upside down in value pretty quick.

As to "down on power"...just a tiny thing as the points being set too close, can make a huge difference in how these engines perform. Once you sort out the mechanical stuff, a good running Commander Big Six, and an overdrive transmission, should give you a car capable of modern highway speeds that few cars of the era could match today. Also, in addition to hanging out here, join the national SDC, a local chapter, and you'll be surprised at the world of resources available to support these cars.

As for white color, even if it was not offered waaay back in '47, given the lack of Air Conditioning...it should be a blessing during warm weather. Looks like a great car, and a fun example to begin your Studebaker experience. Good luck, and keep us updated on your progress.:!:

06-16-2014, 12:21 PM
Looks like a pretty nice car.

06-16-2014, 12:38 PM
Looks like a pretty nice car.

I made my initial post in this thread before clicking on the pics. I agree with Bob, the car looks great. Even if you have to venture inside the engine...you're way ahead of a lot of us from the start.

06-16-2014, 02:26 PM
It does look like a nice car, even though the "restorer" didn't care for original colors or fabrics. They did copy the stitching on the seats, though. That is much better than just throwing a one piece vinyl job in there, like many folks do.

One thing that puzzles me is the engine. The Commander six has a "rams horn" exhaust manifold, and I cannot make that out from the picture. Hopefully, someone has not installed a Champion engine in there. That would be a LOT of work, and would yield insufficient power. Is there any way to get a better picture of the intake/exhaust manifold?

06-16-2014, 02:35 PM
All right, help me out folks. I thought I could tell the difference between a Champion Six and a Commander Six. The engine picture in post #3 sure looks like a Champion Six to me. One quick way I have always used in the past to tell a Champion from a Commander is that the Commander Six's exhaust manifold loops up over the intake manifold runners, whereas on the Champion Six the exhaust manifold is underneath the intake runners.

Here is a pic (below) of what I thought was a Commander Six, note the exhaust manifold and compare that to the engine pic in post #3. So, what engine does the car being looked at by Robert J III have in it, a Commander Six or a Champion Six?

06-16-2014, 02:38 PM
Looks like Radio Roy and I noticed this about the same time :)

06-16-2014, 02:52 PM
Good eye, Lads. Robert may want to see if that lovely Commander has had a transplant from a Champion. Commander sixes are out there and would make the car perform as intended.

06-16-2014, 03:03 PM
I noticed what I suspected might be a champion engine earlier today. However, I use a laptop with a small screen monitor and hesitated to comment. That champion engine could certainly be used as a price negotiating point. However, as good as the car looks, it wouldn't be a deal killer. A good commander engine could be found, built, and installed later. In the mean time...you could at least putter around with the champion engine.

Robert J III
06-16-2014, 03:19 PM
And THIS is why I got on here before I bought something. You guys are awesome. I'll try to swing by on my way home shortly, take some more pictures under the hood and post them here. I was looking for one to play around with for at least a few years, restore as time and money permitted, and this one kind of fell in my lap. I can get it for quite a bit less than 8-9K. But I'm not really interested in having to switch out an engine.

06-16-2014, 03:35 PM
And THIS is why I got on here before I bought something. You guys are awesome. I'll try to swing by on my way home shortly, take some more pictures under the hood and post them here. I was looking for one to play around with for at least a few years, restore as time and money permitted, and this one kind of fell in my lap. I can get it for quite a bit less than 8-9K. But I'm not really interested in having to switch out an engine.

You could ask where the original engine is. Really...switching engines is not all that big a deal. The key here is...you need to make sure what you have. You will not only need the correct engine, but transmission, radiator, etc. It would be good to know if the transmission is the original, perhaps adapted, to the Champion bell housing. Pictures can be deceiving, but the car looks good enough to give it some good consideration. If it has not been hacked up, it could be a very fun project. You have some very good negotiating points with which to make this a good buy in your favor.

If that is a complete champion engine plus correct transmission combination...you would need to locate the equivalent commander components to swap out. Perhaps others here could give you a good idea about how to put a price on that. This would give you a realistic estimate for a dollar figure in negotiating a purchase price.

06-16-2014, 03:56 PM
Once you get it (we all know you're going to...;)) get with the Studebaker Museum and get a copy of the original build sheet. They're kind of pricy but pretty cool to see how the car was originally built, where it was shipped to etc.

Robert J III
06-16-2014, 04:49 PM
35666Here's a better shot. Along the top edge of the head, numbers 529279. On top of the head, 1 D N. Plate on the firewall, 14A-C5. Underneath that, 5156.

06-16-2014, 05:40 PM
Yep, it has a Champion engine. Is that an extra exhaust outlet near the back of the manifold??

06-16-2014, 06:11 PM
It is obvious that someone has had a ton of fun with this car. While, the way the dual exhaust was cobbled together... I don't know if anything but a "sight-gag" was accomplished. (Although interesting work)

I, like many, have more champion engines than cars to put them in. They are not hard to come by. That could be the reason one found its way into this Commander. Like I said earlier, I would like to see a pic of the drive train from the bell housing back. It is still a worthy car to pursue if an acceptable price can be negotiated.

Robert J III
06-16-2014, 07:56 PM
And an acceptable price is... At the risk of hearing "Whatever it's worth to you."... I could see me hanging onto it forever and restoring little by little, or putting it up for sale in 5-6 years. In that case I would at least like to break even. Decisions. Or I could do what a friend suggested tonight - put a 427 Chevy in it and get a set of good seat belts.

06-16-2014, 11:52 PM
You can always count the head bolts (DON'T FORGET to count the ones that go thru the thermostat housing) the champ engine has 22 and the commander six has 24. The pic in post #17 does look like a champion engine though.

06-17-2014, 07:08 PM
Yep, looks exactly like the engine in my 47 Champion.
Good bargaining chip, car has the wrong engine in it.
Buy it right and search around for the correct motor.