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Still looking for '52 Starlight drag car

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  • Still looking for '52 Starlight drag car

    I'm looking for information regarding a '52 Commander State Starlight coupe I built for the drags in the mid-60's. I originally found the car in an apple orchard in late 1966 with 1961 plates. It had a 3-speed OD, but someone had swapped the OEM 232 for a 289. The engine had a spun bearing, so it came out and was replaced with a 232 again to race in NHRA stock class. The car was raced during the 1967 season in black primer at the Milan, Michigan track. I took a partner in 1968 and we rebuilt and blueprinted the engine using a Lunati cam and had Tom Elk massage the heads. We switched the OD trans for a 3-speed and used a Hudson gearset to get better ratio splits. The car was campaigned mainly in Ohio, but also in MI, Canada, and at the AHRA Nationals in Bristol, TN. The car initially ran NHRA at Milan, National Trails, Toledo, Ketlersville, Sidney, and Van Wert. It ran T/S, and U/S, since NHRA kept changing the class designations. Every time we finally got the car running under the record, that pesky Ted Harbit and/or Steve Berg (Olds) would drop it down another notch. So we switched to AHRA, whose rules allowed different mods. Then we primarily ran at Detroit, Norwalk, and West Salem. We held 4 AHRA World records between '69 and '71. Some with the manual and some after we went to an automatic. The car was painted '68 Pontiac Verdero Green and lettered with the name "Aardvark Engineering" on the door. I had painted part of the hood, the halo, and the lower trunk lid in blended candy colors and then lace painted over it in white.

    I bought out my partner in 1971 and moved to Phoenix, AZ after racing here at the '71 AHRA Winternationals. In AZ, I raced in Tucson, and both Phoenix tracks. Eventually, I went to a blower from a '57 GH which I modded with a spring pack and a pulley collar and then got a prototype impeller from John Erb. I also machined a larger than stock aluminum lower pulley, which gave 15-16 psi boost from around 5000 up. I drilled the block to drain oil down from the valley without hitting the crank and partitioned the heads to create 4 exhaust ports by utilizing the heat crossover port. In order to run the 4th pipe over the top side, I cut the heat riser part off the OEM 232 hi-rise style intake. A few years before when we made the switch to AHRA, the intake was milled and bored to accept a Rochester 2GC carb that was modified to flow nearly 700 CFM. A little overkill for the .058 overbored 232, but worked OK. I made an airbox for the switch to FI. The biggest change other than the engine, was a swap to a '53 Olds Hydramatic trans. I got an old Chuck's Speed Shop fluid coupling that he had furnace brazed and cut stators for a 3500 stall speed. A Stude to Chev trans adapter to a Chev truck front bell housing to a Cadillac rear housing mated the trans. IIRC it took a Ford Taurus U-joint to get the Olds driveshaft hooked to the Dana 44. With a 4.89 rear gear and a 3.82 1st gear in the trans, the launch was amazing and quickly got the blower into the power range. Best ET/MPH with that setup was 12.92 @ 114.44.
    Later I lost the blower in the cheap seats shortly after the 1000' mark and decided to quit racing that car. I stuck a stock 259 and a 3 speed manual in it to cruise on the street, but never finished the project. The race engine was sold to some guy in the Los Angeles area and the trans went to someone around the bay. The guy who bought the car in the early 90's, trailered it back to New York.
    That's the end of the trail. The buyer was Bob Wells and last known address is 8587 Cazenovia Rd. Oran , NY. (Syracuse suburb) So if anyone ever saw or heard of the car, please PM me or reply here. Both myself and my ex-partner (still a good friend) are interested.

    I was in SDC and a founding member of the Grand Canyon chapter in '72. I was active in the chapter until the mid 80's. During my Studebaker days I had owned 22. Other than the '52 race car, my other favorites were a '64 Gran Turismo and a '66 Daytona. After a long pause to run my business, I got back to playing again. I'm still racing, but currently with a daily driver bolton C6 Corvette running high 10's @ 126.

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  • #2
    Well can't say I know we're the car is but I do remember seeing it at the Glendale college swap meet for sale years back. And I do have the airbox off the car the square gold anodized aluminum box somewhere outback in my backyard. Good to see you're back into it. John Kroulik

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    • #3
      My suggestion is to also scroll through all 185 pages worth of post on the 'Studebakers in Roadside America' thread, if you have not already. There are LOTS of Studes on the track posted there. Never counted how many were '52's, though.

      Craig

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      • #4
        Well can always build a Aardvark II ? Patty Naugal is having an open house on January 21 and 22 and you can possibly buy one of your old bodies that you sold him years ago. And Pete has your old champ truck it's up for sale. Back in the game just like that. Just a thought Tom Good luck John Kroulik

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        • #5
          Originally posted by 8E45E View Post
          My suggestion is to also scroll through all 185 pages worth of post on the 'Studebakers in Roadside America' thread, if you have not already. There are LOTS of Studes on the track posted there. Never counted how many were '52's, though.

          Craig
          Thanks for the suggestion. And wow, that's a lot of photos, but no cigar this time.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by studejohn View Post
            Well can always build a Aardvark II ? Patty Naugal is having an open house on January 21 and 22 and you can possibly buy one of your old bodies that you sold him years ago. And Pete has your old champ truck it's up for sale. Back in the game just like that. Just a thought Tom Good luck John Kroulik
            Just saw the sale info and might slip down there this Saturday.

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            • #7
              'Way cool, Tom; thanks for checking in. 'Loved your story in the OP.

              Best wishes
              finding your old car; keep us posted. BP
              We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

              Ayn Rand:
              "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

              G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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              • #8
                There are several Starlight coupes and 52's at Chuck Naugles. The Twofer sale for $300.00 cannot be beat for a great start on recreating your car. What you don't use, you can save to help someone else later on to get another Studebaker on the road.

                Bob Miles
                Tucson AZ

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                • #9
                  I think the starlites are going fast. Better get there early and steak your claim.

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                  • #10
                    just sent you a pm massage email me back eather way if what i have will work dannyo.

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                    • #11
                      I found another photo on https://www.facebook.com/groups/Studebakerdrag/ This one must have been taken during the '68 racing season, since it had the T/S class painted on the halo. I just can't figure out what track that would have been at that time or who would have taken the photo. It had to be somewhere in Ohio, Michigan, or just across the border in Canada. The photo is not in either my or my ex-partner's collection. Anyone recognize the track?
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                      • #12
                        Still looking, but determined the above photo was taken at National Trails in Columbus, OH. I don't know where the photo came from.

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                        • #13
                          Mr. Pfeifer ,I sent you a private message.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rkchkr View Post
                            Mr. Pfeifer ,I sent you a private message.
                            Much thanks for the additional history. Here's a couple of articles from the local newspaper and a photo of either coming or going racing. You might recognize the car wash, but if it's still there, it's not a quarter anymore. I think the photo was real early 1970, since neither the truck nor trailer had chrome wheels.

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                            Last edited by HOXXOH; 04-29-2018, 04:39 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Mr. Pfeifer I have the exact same newspaper clipping...the Thompson one. Mom did pick up the Bowling Green paper once in a while ,so that must be where she found the article. I wish they were still with us ,they both would be tickled to know more about how well you did with racing the car. I don't remember dad ever swapping out the engine though....must have been a previous owner. Shortly after getting the car ,(and the telephone pole) he came home one day dragging another Stude with no engine. If i remember correctly ,it was sort of a baby blue with no shine left to the paint. Dad was the kind of father that when there was work to be done ,I and my older brother WERE going to be there to help ,so I'm sure the three of us had our hands on changing out the front clip.

                              By the way ,I did some searching on the internet for Mr. Wells. I found some contact info that I'll send to you in private.

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