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Thread: 6 cylinder question

  1. #1
    Champion Member
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    6 cylinder question

    Hello all,

    I'm just wondering why a lot of people look down on the 6 cylinder engines Studebaker made? I understand that some of them where better then others interms of longevity but still. I know I'm young and not as knowledgeable about these motors as some of you gentlemen and ladies are but that's why I'm asking the question. I'm just trying to learn more so I can pass the knowledge onto my kids some day to keep our love of these awesome cars alive for the next generation.

    Any info would be greatly appreciated

    thank you

  2. #2
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    Our first Studebaker six came wrapped in a 1964 Champ truck 3 years ago. I rebuilt it with mostly NOS parts and had the head rebuilt using nos and stainless valves. We have driven it several thousand miles and with the exception of having to anticipate big hills it runs great. It has a 3spd w/ OD trans and on trips delivers over 25 mpg. There are some on this forum that believe that the six should be tossed regardless of what car its in but since they were mostly Studebakers bread and butter and there for should be saved.
    Last weekend I did a Race car oriented flea at the New Egypt Speedway and used the Champ to bring the wares I was selling. Once people realized that the Champ was a Studebaker and looked it over they were even more excited to see the Little six still there. There were a lot of questions about the Champ and so many people didn't know that Studebaker built trucks . I'm a fan of the six , Ed
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    Last edited by jts359; 12-06-2018 at 11:09 AM.

  3. #3
    President Member christophe's Avatar
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    Except for the cylinder head problems, it was a nice engine even with its roots dating back to 1939. When people bad mouth about this one, I tell them it was good for 112hp when the current Ford 170 Ci gave only 101hp! Usually, arguing stops at this time.
    Nice day to all.

  4. #4
    President Member tsenecal's Avatar
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    I think that they were great little engines. They were developed back in a time that people were not in such a hurry to get places. None of the automobile manufacturers were building huge horsepower at the time. Roads were not as good, and if you got to a hill, (especially with a load) you just counted on gearing down, and getting to the top. In my younger days, I would haul cattle in an old stock truck, (International, with a six cyl.) It would fit 10 full size cows, and it sure wasn't very fast, loaded, but it always got us there.

  5. #5
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    I'm more than satisfied with all my Studebaker flat head 6's. The small Champion has 85 H.P. but gets me around just fine, and my Commanders have 102 H.P. and plenty of toque. No need to swap them for anything. My 52 Land Cruiser feels much stronger than it's rated H.P. for a small 232 V8.

  6. #6
    Silver Hawk Member
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    You won't find many of us hear bad-mouthing the Champion six, or the Commander six. Both were top-notch engines in their day. But the overhead valve conversion adopted in 1961 proved to be susceptible to cracks in the cylinder head. And the big downfall of the six was that, as a long-stroke engine, they simply wore out their cylinders quicker than competitive engines. Most of the other manufacturers brought out newer, short-stroke OHV sixes with bigger bores that had better breathing, and simply lasted longer between rebuilds than did the Studebaker sixes.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  7. #7
    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heavyhauler View Post
    Hello all,

    I'm just wondering why a lot of people look down on the 6 cylinder engines Studebaker made? I understand that some of them where better then others interms of longevity but still. I know I'm young and not as knowledgeable about these motors as some of you gentlemen and ladies are but that's why I'm asking the question. I'm just trying to learn more so I can pass the knowledge onto my kids some day to keep our love of these awesome cars alive for the next generation.

    Any info would be greatly appreciated

    thank you
    It's not JUST the Stude six I look down on. I look down on ALL six's.
    I'll have the V8 please.
    Thanks
    Jerry Forrester
    Forrester's Chrome
    Douglasville, Georgia

    See all of Buttercup's pictures at https://imgur.com/a/tBjGzTk


  8. #8
    President Member StudeNewby's Avatar
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    Hey Matt, I really appreciate the question. It seems the sixes have been undervalued even within the Studebaker fraternity, and I'm hoping that is changing. I want to learn more about them too, and I'm keeping my eyes open for a six banger in my next Stude.
    Last edited by StudeNewby; 12-06-2018 at 07:50 PM. Reason: Fixed typo
    Mike Davis
    Regional Manager, North Carolina
    1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

  9. #9
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    Heavy,
    I have a 64 Commander with the OHV six and an automatic transmission. On the plus side, it warms up quickly, is really perky at lower speeds, but on the downside it really starts to wind out at about fifty miles per hour. I won't drive interstate but I can do state two lanes high ways. As long as I accept those limitations I can't complain about the performance.
    Rick

  10. #10
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    Matt,

    I know that this is not your primary focus, but I thought that this might pique your interest. The Champ was also extensively used as replacement power plants for the "Go-Devil" four cylinder engines used in Jeeps. They were small enough to fit the engine bay, and because of their light weight, long stroke and increased power they were considered a step up, especially for off-roading. Panning an engine seems a little silly just because it may not fit one's tastes. My father was a claims investigator for the US Dept. of Labor. Much of his time was spent on the road. He swore by his Champions, he had a 1947,1951 and a 1956. Because of the road use, and regular maintenance, none of the engines in his cars suffered any of the premature ware that has been noted. When he traded in his 51, it had around 115K miles on it, but it could easily have passed for 15K miles.
    https://www.racingjunk.com/news/2015...t-track-racer/

  11. #11
    Speedster Member
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    I have many satisfied hours behind various 170s. Perhaps the bad rep came when these cars settled into the third or fourth row of the used car lot and got driven with no oil changes etc. I find them quite durable. I am the second owner of a 60 4 dr and a 63 conv. The 60 has 112K and runs terrific with a cheap ring job I gave it 60k ago. The 63 I freshened up with rings and a valve job at 95K. Pistons were quite OK and the crank and bearings were like new. I regularly run that car at 65+ with its original 3.73 rear, so revs are not a problem. To celebrate my 60th, I then drove the car 4500 miles to Utah and back to see the parks.

    An additional plus of the sixes is very light handling compared to the eights. Equipped with a V8 front sway bar and a set of Hankook 205-15s (my new favorite tire) they are fun to drive on twisty roads.

  12. #12
    President Member ndynis's Avatar
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    Okay, I have to chime in on this discussion about the Studebaker 6 cylinder engine. About two years ago I purchased a 1963 Lark with the OHV6 with standard transmission and overdrive. It also has air conditioning (a must in the Texas heat if you are going to drive your car 10 out of the 12 months of the year). I also need to say that I own a 61 Hawk, 289 V8 and a couple of other V8 Studebakers (one Studebaker is never enough is it?).
    I couldn’t be happier with my little 6 cylinder Lark. It is easy to maintain, gets good gas mileage, and the overdrive lets me cruse down the highways at 60 and 65mph with no problems. I purchased the car from George Klutkowski in Tallahassee, FL and drove it 1,400 miles back to Texas on IH10 all the way without a problem. Of course any car you get from George is going to have been in top condition but the point is that the little Lark made the trip on the Interstate all the way without being a problem for the other cars on the highway.
    Since then I have put about 6,000 miles on the car and loved every mile. Yes, I love the sound of the Studebaker V8 and the extra power sometimes but for an everyday driver, and even on several tours, I couldn’t be happier than with the little 6 cylinder Lark.
    Nick

  13. #13
    President Member BobWaitz's Avatar
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    We managed to set a couple of records at Bonneville with that engine. It's great!




  14. #14
    President Member BobWaitz's Avatar
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    I should also point out that I would love to see one of these sixes in a hot rod roadster or coupe (T or A) with an open engine compartment. I've seen enough SBCs. They are boring. If you want me to look at your hot rod, put an interesting engine in it.

  15. #15
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    Yes, the Champion was the state-of-the-art for a durable, inexpensive engine in a 2200# car in 1939. Each time I work on one of them, I'm impressed with the design. However, as cars and trucks got heavier and speeds got higher, that same compact design left no room to go larger. The little dog was simply overtaxed by the 1950s 3500# and 70 MPH speed it was required to haul. Working that hard and outside their design envelope, they were just not as durable.

    FWIW, the additional fifteen cubic inches afforded by the 1955 - '58 185" is the most cost-effective horsepower increase. The 185" is not as sewing-machine smooth as the 170" but it's just that much more powerful.

    The Achilles heel of the Champion design is the lifter bore wear. Studebaker Engineering knew early on the lifter bores wore. Instead of fixing the problem, they just told the Parts Department to order .001" and .005" oversize lifters to be installed when rebuilding. Unfortunately, today the oversize lifters are NLA. Worn lifter bores flood the chamber with oil, which is sucked up the intake valve guide; this gives the Champion its reputation for oil burning. We've learned how to install valve stem seals on the Champion, but as yet have not found a solution to lifter bore wear.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

  16. #16
    President Member swvalcon's Avatar
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    Jack. Couldn't you bore the lifter hole and sleeve it? I've driven the little flat head six and if your not in a rush it's a good little motor.

  17. #17
    Silver Hawk Member 52-fan's Avatar
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    I drove my 52 Champion many miles. It was a fun car to drive and easy to maintain. I love my Commander and don't worry about hills like I used to, but the Champion is a good engine. Most of the people who call them names were associated with vehicles (especially trucks) that had already been worked nearly to death on farms and such and then fed a diet of used oil.
    I am afraid that if, at the age of 21, I had followed my original plan to swap in a V-8 my lack of experience would have led to an unusable pile of parts. As it was I drove it through numerous states and owned it 40 years.


    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
    1952 2R pickup

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