View Full Version : Did the '54 Champion ever come with factory turn signals?

09-09-2013, 05:06 PM
Going through the net for a month now, since getting my '54 sedan, and I cannot find a direct answer. I've found wiring diagrams, a '54 Commander ad the says "available signals on any model at additional cost", vendors that list switches, and the gauge bezel in the dash looks like it could have lights for them. Of course, I found plenty of aftermarket switches, both vintage and repros. If factory signals existed, I would like to hunt for them. But I have not found anything specific to hunt for. I can assume this means a steering column that has that provision, but I hate to assume anything. If a factory setup exists, I like to see pictures to know what I should look for.

09-09-2013, 05:29 PM
Since the '54 factory turn signals were built into the steering column, not "Ad-Ons", you most likely would not find a "KIT", not today anyway.
You would need to order all of the components in the column and put in some Instrument light sockets in the Gauge Panel, some Wiring, 4 Tail & Parking dual Bulb Sockets etc., etc.

Studebakers had "Windows" in the Instrument Cluster since 1947 for turn signal indicators, but I believe it was '55 or '56 before they became Standard items and not extra cost Accessories.

09-09-2013, 05:33 PM
Not only do they exist, I think by '54, the cars without them were the exception. You could opt for vacuum WS wipers, but those are rare by '54 also. Radios and heaters were still very optional until the late 50s. Back Up lites were rarer than turn signals in that era.

09-09-2013, 05:33 PM
The chassis parts manual has all the pictures and the part numbers for turn signal components.

09-09-2013, 06:03 PM
Since the signals are part of the column, then I should just hunt for the column and associated wiring. There is a yard about 8 hours from me that has 2 '54s. I like to know what I need before making that kind of road trip. I also like to see for myself that it is what I need and not beat up too bad.

My '54 is bare bones. No heat/defrost (Has factory delete) and no radio. I am glad it at least it has overdrive!! I have never checked to see if I have vacuum or electric wipers.....

I did order the chassis parts manual and service manual. They have not arrived yet.

09-09-2013, 06:49 PM
JMHO, but if she didn't come with turn signals from the factory, i'd get a add-on kit available from vendors or ebay. you'll save a lot of $$$ and time doing so and spend that on other things that may be needed.:) since turn signals are a "safety item", no points would be taken off in judging. (someone correct me if i'm wrong on that).

if you haven't already picked up a production order for your '54, you can do so to ascertain as how she left the factory: https://studebakermuseum.org/store/production-orders/production-order-1936-1959_00028/

stude dude
09-09-2013, 07:06 PM
I do have a N.O.S. turn signal kit here if you need one. Send me a pm if interested.


09-09-2013, 07:11 PM
From what I can find electric turn signals were a required option on 1/1/54. The became required on U.S. automobiles a year later.

09-09-2013, 07:21 PM
JMHO, but if she didn't come with turn signals from the factory, i'd get a add-on kit available from vendors or ebay./Cut/

The only downside to aftermarket Turn Signal Kits other than the ugly Box hanging on the column, is the cancel feature is either non-existent or very poor and there usually are not Left/Right Indicator lights.

09-09-2013, 08:33 PM
I believe both the standard shift column and the automatic shift column would both have a delete plate on the left side of the column jacket. You should not need to find a column; just the switch, lever and harness. Normally the harness would be included as part of the switch. You may find a good used switch with a crappy harness. Repro harnesses for the switch only are available.

09-09-2013, 08:50 PM
Something you will need to know when you start installing your switch.

The 6 or 8 wire cable from the switch to the mulit-port connector at the bottom of the steering collumn must be fed through a little square conduit.

Best done one wire at a time. I made a hook from a yard long piece of 1/16 welding rod, bent a hook on the end and taped each connector to the welding rod. pushed the rod down the conduit, pulled that wire through, unhooked it and started over. There's no way you can pull all the wires at once.

09-09-2013, 10:11 PM
I'm confused, in 53 and 54 aren't the front turn signals built right into the the grill. If it doesn't have turn signals what do the grill lights do?

Dick Steinkamp
09-09-2013, 10:29 PM
I'm confused, in 53 and 54 aren't the front turn signals built right into the the grill. If it doesn't have turn signals what do the grill lights do?

They are only parking lights if no turn signals. Both (2 filament bulbs) if with turn signals.

Same with the tail lights.

Dwain G.
09-09-2013, 10:55 PM
You might want to get a copy of the original 1953-54 installation instructions before you get started: http://www.studebakerdriversclub.com/Studebakertemplates.htm

09-10-2013, 03:39 AM
My -55 has turn signals but NOT on the electrical diagram... but the wipers are there, motor, wiring & all!
So my thought is: what about if you lived in (for example) southern California & liked to go cruising in the nights?
Not much rain but you would have to order turn-signals extra!
But yeah ofcourse - the places where it actually DO rain aint rare. :)

09-10-2013, 11:57 AM
I have heard that California actually had some sort of law that said, and I am wildly paraphrasing here, that electric turn signals were not bright enough to be considered legal in the bright sunlight.

I have found many California Studebakers without turn signals.

Conversely, Minnesota required turn signals from 1948 or 1949 onwards.

09-10-2013, 11:59 AM
One thing to consider: if your '54 is in fact a bare-bones model, it might be best to keep it that way, since so few have survived, and many that did have since been optioned up. An after-market turn signal might be a better choice in this case, as it would more closely match the original "feel" of the car.

09-10-2013, 12:35 PM
Yeah, just revert to sticking your arm out the window to signal - see how many folks recognize THAT! Round up some extra sheet metal and trim too. You'll likely be needing it! :ohmy::o

If it were MY car - not only would I have turn signals, I'd install some in the rear window since the visibility of the original ones is pathetic. :QQ:

09-10-2013, 03:07 PM
For new cars, in 1953 New York State mandated turn signals.

09-10-2013, 03:41 PM
I'm confused, in 53 and 54 aren't the front turn signals built right into the the grill. If it doesn't have turn signals what do the grill lights do?

HUH? Doesn't your driver Honda, Toyota, Ford or? have PARKING LIGHTS? :confused:

09-10-2013, 04:57 PM
Thanks for all the comments!

First....Although I like to keep this as stock as possible, (It'll really contrast to the other cars I have) I would like to drive it without too much worry. I drove the Stude from San Antonio to home, which was about 275 miles. San Antonio's highway system was scary without signals. And I don't think many really know hand signals anymore. (Hand signals are not taught in drivers ed according to my daughter and son) I put an aftermarket "box" on the column of '49 Chevy, so I am familiar with those. In keeping with the stock theme, I wanted to go all Stude with this one. I have since put almost 1K miles on the Stude in the past month. I REALLY want signals.

Second...I looked a little closer at my steering column. I assume at this point the "collar" behind the wheel and in front of the shift lever cover is the blanking or delete plate and would be replaced with the signal switch arm. (I am still waiting for the manuals). So I may not have to replace the entire column. Just might be easier to swap the entire column in the long run....

Third....Thanks for the other resources and links. I won't find that in a manual.

09-10-2013, 05:13 PM
Here is my '54 when I found her at the dealer.27412
The pic is small. I grabbed it from the dealer website before the took it down.

09-12-2013, 12:10 PM
The 53-54's basic wiring did not include turn signals, however they were available from the factory and are shown in the auxiliary wiring diagrams along with about half a dozen other auxiliary options. It would be a monumental task to install a factory unit. There are available electronic after market directional intention lights available through www.theegyptgarage.com (http://www.theegyptgarage.com) 585-598-6060 it is wireless and installs in 5 minutes check it out Dave

TX Rebel
09-12-2013, 02:20 PM
The US government did not require signals until '60, and that is when Texas began requiring them. 59 & earlier model cars have not ever been required to to have them in TX.
Most 53 & later Studes I have owned were equipped with turn sigs, but I was surprised that a 53 Landcruiser I have does not have them.
FWIW, Chuck Collins at Studebakerparts.com has reproduced the 50's t. sig switches & sells them reasonably.

09-12-2013, 02:30 PM
I have available a used turn signal switch and the collar that it goes in from a '54. I have the whole column too. I think the sockets in the grill bars are different for cars without the factory turn signals. I have grill bars with sockets for 2 filament bulbs and and some with sockets for 1 filament bulbs. My 53 with turn signals uses 2 filament bulbs, so I would guess the 1 filament bulbs are for cars without factory turn signals.

09-12-2013, 02:55 PM
Don't know about other states but, in the state of New Jersey all vehicles sold after Sept, 1952 were required to have turn signals. Would assume Studebaker would have installed them to sell in NJ.

09-12-2013, 08:48 PM
This is interesting I looked up in the current B.C. Motor Vehicle Regulations and they are still not manditory to day, it says a vehicle MAY be equipped with turn signals. The regulations list a whole bunch of manditory requirments if you do have them such as two lamps per signal light.