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View Full Version : How many on the forum drive an OHV 6?



irish
09-10-2010, 09:59 AM
I was talking to a friend yesterday that is converting a 6 cyl Lark to a V-8. He bought the car (not a running car anyway) fully intending to switch it to a V-8. He said the 6 is too underpowered although he personally has never driven one! It's been several years now but I used to drive a Lark with an OHV 6 and I thought it was fine. The OHV 6 has never received alot of love among the Stude crowd (I assume do to the head issues) but their were actually more Larks sold with a 6 than a V-8. All this made me curious how many on the forum drive an OHV 6, what are you driving impressions and general opinions on the engine? Any fans of the OHV 6? This is meant to be a light-hearted post, not a V-8 versus 6 post.

Joe

raoul5788
09-10-2010, 10:13 AM
I have an ohv 6 in my '61 Lark wagon. Obviously it doesn't have the power of the 289 in my '63 or '57, but it is fine for a daily driver. Even Bill Cathcart, an avowed flathead guy, says the ohv 6 in his '63 is a solid engine. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me!

t1003nl
09-10-2010, 10:42 AM
My '62 Champ truck has the OHV 6 and it runs great. I'm not going to win any races with it and the lack of OD keeps the top speed around 60mph but it is a lot of fun to cruise around in. Very easy to work on. Just don't lug it when you dirve.

rockinhawk
09-10-2010, 11:03 AM
I have one in a 62 Lark 4dr, but I don,t get to drive it much, because people keep borrowing it. Matthew drove it for nearly a year untill the trans went south. Then my son James replaced the tranny, painted it, and has had it ever since.
As stated, no speed demon but a good economical car. I like it. NT

jackb
09-10-2010, 11:05 AM
I'd suggest the OHV 6 is an improvement on the flathead, but still somewhat of a dangerous "driver" these days. I say that if you do any amount of highway driving. I'm speaking from the Northeast where aggressive driving is the norm and road rage, tho tamped down some, still exists and make these older, slower cars a danger. Otherwise, on the 2-lane "blue highways" off the beaten track, a joy to drive, not needing PS or PB and being a bit better balance fore & aft than the mighty V8 powered cars........

Bullet
09-10-2010, 11:52 AM
I drove a 1963 Lark with OHV6 and auto for years in the mid 1990's. It was my every day car and I did not hesitate to drive it anywhere. Always had enough power for me. But then I did not get a Studebaker V-8 until after that car. The 6 got great gas mileage even with the automatic. I worries about the cracked heads on the 6's but never had that problem and it was so much easier to work on with all that room around the engine.

Mark

raprice
09-10-2010, 12:39 PM
My '59 Lark is a flathead six and it's fine. I live in the northeast and really don't have a problem keeping up with traffic. Yes, acceleration is a bit relaxed, so I keep that in mind when I merge into parkway or expressway traffic.
I've never driven a car with the OHV six, but I understand that it's much peppier than the flathead.
I really don't see the need for the V-8, but then, that's purely a matter of choice.
Rog

61Lark
09-10-2010, 01:26 PM
I drove my 61 Lark VI wagon for a few years in college and loved it in town. The six makes for easier turning and stopping compared to the heavier V8. The straight 3 speed stunk out on the highway, but after I changed it over to overdrive it was great. Switching that car over to an overdrive transmission was probably the single greatest improvement I've ever made to a car. Ninety nine percent of my highway driving was on rural two lane roads so if I was going 60 I was speeding.

In 1988 my grandfather bought a 61 Lark VI four door with an automatic to use as his daily driver. He drove the car almost every day of the summer making deliveries for over a decade and never had any problems, but he also had his engine rebuilt. His car was noticably peppier than mine.

Nick

StudeMann
09-10-2010, 02:38 PM
25 years ago I had a 63 Lark sedan with the OHV 6 and 3 speed manual with OD. I really enjoyed that car and I had few complaints other than smoking due to bad valve seals. It was fine after I replaced the seals. It wasn't fast, but it was comfortable and easy to drive. I took it halfway across the country and back and it performed well on the highway.

Cheers!

63t-cab
09-10-2010, 03:54 PM
My first Studebaker,55 Champion straight 3spd. swapped out the flathead for a ohv(WOW) another 20 horses,and at age 19 that was a big deal!!!
speeding up and down,speeding all over(mainly on back roads though) even got pulled over twice by the cops!so ya the six is a nice engine for sure.

Bob Andrews
09-10-2010, 04:12 PM
I'm a fan of the 6s too. I still have my first Studebaker, bought in 2004. It's a 64 Commander 4dr., 6 auto. It was headed to the crusher, in spite of the fact that the engine was completely rebuilt and had new SS exhaust. I drove it for about a month until the trans. went bad. I didn't fix it because the body and interior are so bad. While I never drove it on the Interstate, it would have been fine IMO. It would get to 60 in a reasonable amount of time, and did just fine on local roads. I just love the way that engine purrs, and am looking for a decent candidate for that engine.

I have heard about the heads cracking too, but this is the only one I have had, so I have no experience with that. When I find a car for that engine, I will put it in and go with confidence!

mbstude
09-10-2010, 04:31 PM
I've driven a few of them, a couple as daily drivers. Ones with 3 speeds seemed to be "peppier" in my experience. The lone automatic equipped car was pretty sluggish, but the engine was very tired and that might have been the reason it performed that way, regardless of it being an automatic. I'd say that if the engine is in top shape then it would make a decent car. I've driven a friend's '63 Regal 2 door, 6 with Overdrive, and it was one of the best driving Larks I've ever been in. (No R2 Daytona, but I didn't drive it like one either.) Of course it only has 20K original miles on it. The cars with the automatic and without Overdrive sounded like they would come apart if driven over 60 MPH. In my opinion, Overdrive is the only way to go.

As far as the cracked head saga goes.. If the head hasn't cracked by now, it's probably a good one.

If I had the option to install a Stude V8 in place of the OHV 6, I'd do it without thinking twice. Performance is much better with the V8 and gas mileage, at least in my case, was as good as, or better, than the 6's.

Milaca
09-10-2010, 04:42 PM
I have a 1963 Lark 4-door with OHV 6 and automatic that I used as a daily driver for a few months about 20 years ago. I was satisfied with the acceleration, even more so if I kicked it down into first gear being that it naturally starts in 2nd gear. It was a very nice driving car.

Ricardo
09-10-2010, 08:51 PM
My 61 Lark is a VI, as all the Chilean assembled Larks

It is underpowered in aceleration but once it gets good speed is relaxed and sweet. The purr of the engine is nice to hear and the car steers quite easy. A delighful car to drive, even when I recognize that in aceleration it is slow

Jim B PEI
09-10-2010, 09:29 PM
I LIKE sixes, the two 57 Studebakers, one overdrive, one automatic (and the Kaiser too) even if all flatheads. I might be driving a 64 OHV automatic 2 door post one of these days. The automatic 57 is a 30over 185 rebuild, so I suppose it has about nearly as much power as a stock 170 OHV--it cruises along on the 4 lanes nicely. Sixes keep me from speeding, unless I PLAN to;););)

rockne10
09-10-2010, 09:30 PM
My first Stude was a '62 ohv six with overdrive; daily driver for years. Got it when my Grandfather passed away. Sold me on Studebakers. Back roads or interstates made no difference. Never had any major problem. Loved that car until it wedged itself between three trees. Drove it for another couple weeks after that, until the state police gave me twenty-four hours to replace the windshield. It donated many of it's parts to other survivors and is probably still out there in some form.
Replaced it with a '53 coupe, which I still have, and a '60 Lark VI convertible; both purchased in April, 1976.

JWW
09-10-2010, 11:00 PM
I have a '62 Lark 2dr sedan with an OHV VI and automatic. It has a 410 rearend. (I don't know if that's common or not.) It has first gear start and shifts into top gear before you know it, unless you step down on the accelerator. It does move out quickly, but doesn't like to go too fast. It will run very comfortably on the highway about 62 mph. (It will do more, but I don't like to push it.)

Of all my Studes, it is probably the most comfortable to drive. It has the original cloth and vinyl interior, no carpet, no options except the climatizer, no radio, no outside mirror. It handles/rides well w/o PS or PB. It has always gotten me home.

I bought it in 1987 with 8294 original miles on it, still wearing its original Firestone bias-ply tires. The spare tire had never been on the car. I'd guess that it has some 37,000 miles on it now without looking. The longest drive was to the International Meet in Bloomington, MN (was that in '94?) I live west of Pittsburgh, PA. I've had it to South Bend numerous times and on the old proving grounds. Also to Indianapolis and on the track there.

The original paint is showing it's age, but the car is water tight, all the windows roll up and down as they should, and having the valves adjusted every couple of years seems to keep it happy. It doesn't use oil and leaks very little, the gas mileage isn't the greatest, but so what. It's not like it gets driven daily.
JWW

doug
09-11-2010, 12:37 AM
Don't know if his counts, but I swapped the ohv 6 in my '63 Lark for an ohv 6 '66 Mckinnen (chevy) engine. No problems but mileage not a strong point. A few more ponies and very enjoyable daily driver. My principle transportation for 10 years now.

r1lark
09-11-2010, 06:37 AM
I've got a OHV 6 in a '64 Commander, and drive it at interstate speeds with no issue. Even though it was a low mileage (36,000 miles) car when I got it, I switched the automatic to a 3-speed O/D setup which is great.

One big help with the smaller engines, IMHO, is to closely match the rear axle ratio to the driving you are going to do. I ended up ordering a NOS 4.27 rear axle from Newman & Altman, and in my car that is a great ratio......much peppier around town, but still can roll at 70 mph on the interstates.

In addition, you have to drive a 6 different on the interstate than you drive a V8. Anticipating long hills, for example -- speed up a little bit to get you up over the hill at a relatively constant speed. After you drive the car for a while on the interstate, you will determine where its 'sweet spot' speed is (ie, where its torque curve is around the peak). Where the peak torque is in relation to speed is significantly impacted by your rear axle ratio and transmission choices.

Paul

Ron Dame
09-11-2010, 12:42 PM
I was talking to a friend yesterday that is converting a 6 cyl Lark to a V-8. He bought the car (not a running car anyway) fully intending to switch it to a V-8. He said the 6 is too underpowered although he personally has never driven one! It's been several years now but I used to drive a Lark with an OHV 6 and I thought it was fine. The OHV 6 has never received alot of love among the Stude crowd (I assume do to the head issues) but their were actually more Larks sold with a 6 than a V-8. All this made me curious how many on the forum drive an OHV 6, what are you driving impressions and general opinions on the engine? Any fans of the OHV 6? This is meant to be a light-hearted post, not a V-8 versus 6 post.

Joe

I've been pleased with the OHV6 in my Champ, with a 4.27 rear axle and overdrive, it's not fast, but is happy at 70 MPH. Once the 185 OHV 6 is in I hope for a bit more hill pulling power and a bit more gas mileage, but don't expect too much more acceleration.

It would have been cheaper to put a good 259 or 289, and have much more power, but I just think 6's are just that much more interesting.

Jeff T.
09-11-2010, 03:38 PM
For many years my daily driver was a 62 Lark two door sedan with a OHV six and an automatic, I drove that Lark until the frame broke (bad repair by previous owners and too many winters) behind the left shock tower about where the boss for the clutch pivot is located.

I used many of the sedan's parts to revive a 62 Lark hardtop that had a six that expired when it put a rod through its block.

The problems I have had are a succession of crummy carburetors both AS and RBS, mostly choke problems. Years ago I installed a Dana 44 in anticipation of a V8 install with 3.54 gears, which has not happened but I have taken the Lark up and down I-80 a number of time while keeping pace with traffic but US 6 between Lincoln and Omaha is much more fun if you have the time to cruise.

What I am hoping to do soon is built my version of a OHV 185 for the Lark... I have the parts to install a T86 transmission behind the six and I have the choice of standard or OD transmissions in the basement. I am almost done with my homemade twin AS manifold, I hope to weld the end caps on it this week. Then it's on to modifying an exhaust manifold's outlet from 1 1/2 to 2 or more inches.

Why did I end up with OHV sixes, It was just my luck that nearly every Lark that I picked up for parts had a six in it...

Jeff T.

oh, and those Lark sixes can really take a curve fast too:)

unclemiltie
09-11-2010, 04:36 PM
I have an OHV in my 61 lark and had a 62 hardtop with one. As others said, no speed demons but I enjoy driving the car.

rockinhawk
09-11-2010, 05:32 PM
I have one in a 62 Lark 4dr, but I don,t get to drive it much, because people keep borrowing it. Matthew drove it for nearly a year untill the trans went south. Then my son James replaced the tranny, painted it, and has had it ever since.
As stated, no speed demon but a good economical car. I like it. NT James must have read this post. He brought the car home today. His truck was giving trouble so he borrowed the Lark as a back up ride. I guess he got the truck straightened out. NT

Skybolt
09-11-2010, 10:12 PM
I have had Stude V8's since 1980 but seven years ago bought my first Stude six, it was in a 59 2 door Lark. It was a flathead and I modified it and got some peppy driving, even on the freeways. I swapped this out for a 63 OHV six and tweaked it a bit and with the four barrel Holley on it it has enough torque and HP to be fine with most cars on the freeways. I put the matching 4:10 differential and OD transmission so it has good take off and good cruising. The transmission being of an older design, and the column shift, it’s why the whole package doesn’t operate as smoothly as it could but it is still fine. I plan on putting on a turbo to get some where over 200 HP and a four speed but if this proves to be an unreliable system then I will go back to the ease of the V8. Nothing wrong with the OHV six, it's a great engine if properly understood and maintained and as stated before if the head was going to crack it would have by now. The best thing to do if one want to run them every day is to put stainless steel valves in , at least in the exhaust side, and check clearances regularly. The carburetor on the OHV six has a tendency to run lean and rich at different times and was not a good match for the engine. If you run a better carb it is a fine engine.

Steve T
09-12-2010, 08:00 PM
Very interesting info on this thread.

My '62 Lark is an OHV six (169/170ci) with Flightomatic; thus it is supposed to be a real slug, but 'tain't so. Against my better judgement, perhaps, I went from Hamilton to South Bend and back this past May for the swap meet, in convoy with four other Studes (all V8s) and with Eric Harnett (another V8 Stude owner) riding shotgun. Entire trip was on expressways. Lark was actually happier at 70mph than at 60...maybe a wheel-balance issue (had replaced the tires just before departing), and the only actual problem was a key that bent in the worn-out driver's door lock, the car performed beautifully on what may well have been its longest, fastest drive since construction. So...I like the OHV Stude six, improvised and hurriedly-developed though it may have been.

S.

StudeRich
09-13-2010, 06:30 PM
I think with what we now know about these engines, we can make them survive quite well! The whole problem is as it always has been, OVERREVVING! As long as you know you need to change the Std. Trans. and Automatics to 3.54 instead of 3.73 and never drive over 60-65 or when the temp gauge starts climbing, these OHV engines will serve you very well, with good power and good fuel mileage and no cracking heads between the valves.

As mentioned, when you have them down for overhaul or rebuild, you do want to install the Hard Unleaded Valve seats and Stainless H.D. Valves, the original H.D. Studebaker valves for trucks and severe service cars were Stellite tipped, those should help if available.

irish
10-25-2010, 09:48 AM
I thought I'd give this a bump.

53k
10-25-2010, 11:34 AM
I have owned two ohv sixes, both convertibles, one a/t and one overdrive. Both were fine with me. Even the '61, with the first-gear start a/t was adequate off the line. The overdrive '62 was a great car. Really kind of peppy and capable of easy highway cruising. I sold it to the Keystone Chapter for their 1990 Raffle Car. The winner contacted me several years later to see if I wanted to buy it back- big mistake that I didn't.
The '61 had some cracks in the head around the exhaust valves, but the machine shop I took it too had no problem grinding out the seats and installing new ones. I did a valve job on the '62 and it had no sign of cracks anywhere.

(S)
10-25-2010, 03:22 PM
I had 2 Larks like that. One of them I drove to CA to deliver it, the new owner put it right in the shop, up on blocks so the new V8 could go in ASAP. The other one I drove into my own shop, so the new V8 could get put in.