View Full Version : Frame/Springs Proper ride height-'53 Commander

07-06-2014, 05:22 PM
Recent letters in the Co-operator section of Turning Wheels noted that no one knows what the correct ride height is for various Studebakers. My '53 Starliner is 26" from ground to front fender lip (measured vertically where the spindle is) and 23" in the rear. I'm thinking about getting new front and rear springs and wonder if others have any idea how to figure whether my current springs have sagged. My front springs each have one or two rubber coil separators, and the left front height is perhaps 1/4" lower than the right.

Also, measuring the height from the bottom of the body to the ground just behind the front wheel and just before the rear wheel shows an even 6" in both places, indicating that if the car is too low, it is equally low at both the front and the rear.

The Co-operator letters recommended Moog progressive springs for the front and others have recommended I get 5 leaf, versus the current 4 leaf, rear springs. I would also get new Gabriel Classic Gas shocks.

Finally, I notice that the SI catalog offers a front stabilizer bar, part no. 801362 and bracket to frame links #1558373. Do these go together and can I/should I install them on my car?

So, I'm interested in any comments/advice you have about these issues.

Joe Kresse

07-06-2014, 06:58 PM
Is the car riding/steering/handling/braking funny? Do you have a reason to suspect the springs?

The most bang for your buck is a REAR stabilizer bar, like the ones used on Land Cruisers and President cruising sedans and others. It's a simple bolt on and all the holes are already there.

07-06-2014, 07:31 PM
My '53 Starlight is 25 1/4 in front and 24 1/4 in the rear. I can't document that it's stock, but I've never minded the way it stands. It could handle better, but then it is 61 years old.

07-06-2014, 07:40 PM
Joe; Measure from the ground to the lowest spot on the front cross member plate, not the 4 bolt plate that is part of the bell crank. I have found that Moog springs are just slightly higher in LBS/Inch than the 127 C/K spring at ride height. Since they are progressive, the more the car leans the stronger they get.

07-08-2014, 02:50 AM
Hi Roy,
Yes, I should have mentioned that I've already installed a rear stabilizer bar. The reasons I suspect the springs are the rubber separators in the front springs, bottoming out in the back over moderate bumps and the low ground clearance. I'm guessing correct height is something like 26-1/2 to 27" in the front and 3" less in the back.

07-08-2014, 02:17 PM
The tires and wheels on the car will make a big difference in using the measurements that you are making.

07-09-2014, 03:15 AM
I have regular 15" wheels and Coker radials that have pretty much the same diameter as the stock tires that came with the car.

Mike Van Veghten
07-09-2014, 12:12 PM
I don't know if they have changed manufacturers since they moved from CA....but the "as then manufactured" bars from SI, only LOOK like sway bars...!
They are/were NOT made of a spring material, therefore, do not do anything to stop the body lean.

Do yourself a favor, find out what material(s) are used for their current crop of bars...then either ask or do your own homework as to the correctness of the material as a spring.


P.s. - Bars and shocks from "41 Frank" are good parts.

07-09-2014, 01:15 PM
"only LOOK like sway bars...!
They are/were NOT made of a spring material, therefore, do not do anything to stop the body lean."

Well, that's troubling!

Dick Steinkamp
07-09-2014, 02:39 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about STOCK ride hight. Stock was too high even for Studebaker.

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3888/14613736542_a3c5b5a071_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ogndJS)

07-09-2014, 03:03 PM
good grief!

07-09-2014, 03:05 PM
OK, I measured from the ground to the cross member plate in the front (the one with the lower A arms attached). In the middle it's 9-1/4". Is there some "ought to be" height? And, is there a similar measurement for the rear?

07-09-2014, 06:57 PM
Much lower than 9" and you will be scraping parts going in and out of driveways. Some 53-55's I have seen were nose bleed high at 15" or more.

07-10-2014, 02:15 AM
If you're looking for a great replacement for the front sway bar, that REALLY makes the car handle, try this:
http://i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm197/sals54/IMG_1916.jpg (http://s296.photobucket.com/user/sals54/media/IMG_1916.jpg.html)
I made this up years ago. Its the sway bar I've had under my Coupe for decades. Works like a charm. Corners flat and true.

stude dude
07-10-2014, 02:48 AM
I took some measurements from a very original low mileage 1960 Hawk today (from ground to top of wheel arch). Front was 25-3/4", rear was 24" but this was a car with only 70 profile tires. Otherwise it sat close to perfect.