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Sore Back from driving Studebaker

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  • Sore Back from driving Studebaker

    On both previous occasions when I've driven our '51 Studebaker long distances, I've ended up with a very sore back at my destination. Since we want to drive to South Bend this year, I'm looking for any hints on how to arrive less bent over after 2 days on the road.

    The seats were restored to original condition and certainly don't feel soft.

    Has anyone had luck with some kind of cushioning?

  • #2
    I can identify with the problem. Though comfortable to sit on, my 56J's bench seat is the worst on the lower back. For years, I have used various sizes and shapes of cushions between lower back and seat. I have used round ones shaped like a fire log, and a seat back formed cushion with extra firmness down low. While driving along, I shift the cushion around bit from time to time, high to low, and that helps too.

    The ultimate fix was done a few years ago to the two GT Hawks, with 2005 Chrysler Sebring convertible seats. To me, they are more comfortable than any of the brand 'X' cars in the family: Buick Park Ave, Lexus 330, Honda Odyssey.Two years ago, I drove a GT to California and back, a little over 5000 miles all total, and did not even take along a back cushion. But I doubt you are ready to go to that length, and neither am I, with the 56J.


    • #3
      I feel the same way about the Avanti seats.
      Lou Van Anne
      62 Champ
      64 R2 GT Hawk
      79 Avanti II


      • #4
        The answer is a lumbar support pad. Later seats had the seat back angle changed to favor distribution of the load on the backside rather than the spine...


        • #5
          Take your wallet out of your back pocket, if you haven't already done so. I hate the new car seats, and bench seats! New car seats are as hard as a rock and you kind of sit up on top of them. I didn't know how uncomfortable I had been, until we got a 1996 Ford Thunderbird which allowed both Mary and me to sink down into the seat and still allow me to stretch out my long legs. Mary has an arthritic back and the dread of a long driving trip has changed to one of anticipation and enjoyment! Try putting a shim under the front legs of your bench seat and tipping the seat back a bit. It has worked for me, but the big steering wheel can be an obstacle.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Hallabutt View Post
            Try putting a shim under the front legs of your bench seat and tipping the seat back a bit. It has worked for me, but the big steering wheel can be an obstacle.
            I was just getting ready to say that, the seat needs to cradle with equal support everywhere. Tilting the seat back helps with that in my experience. Then there is always a seat swap. Friend of mine had a late 80's Ford ranger with vinyl bench, similiar in construction to Studebaker. He had the same problems with his back. We swapped it out with a new (at the time) S10 PLUSH bench/bucket seat and all his trouble were gone. Im sure that seat had proper lumbar support also, like was stated above. Could have been the the ford seat was just FLAT out WORN out but, in that case it needed fixing anyways

            Hope you get it figured out. Its one of those problem that you can live with but more often it makes you take the family's car to the grocery store instead

            1961 Lark Regal VIII 259/auto -- Lucy


            • #7
              You need that Bamboo Cushion as seen on tv! Only $19.95 but wait buy now and get a second free! Just pay separate shipping and handling😁
              sigpic1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

              "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
              Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
              "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan


              • #8
                I have found simply placing a small pillow on the seat against the back so it presses against my spine really helps. It is basically a lumbar support and keep your spine straight so your muscles don't get fatigued. Ask your Chiropractor about that.
                Ed Sallia
                Dundee, OR

                Sol Lucet Omnibus


                • #9
                  Get ya a pair of 2013-2017 Nissan Altima zero gravity bucket seats. They were designed in conjunction with NASA. That ought to do the trick. But, I personally have not set in them.
                  My 1st car. "A TRANSTAR"

                  Somewhere between Culture and Agriculture
                  in the Geographic center of Tennessee


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GrumpyOne View Post
                    The answer is a lumbar support pad. Later seats had the seat back angle changed to favor distribution of the load on the backside rather than the spine...
                    I agree with the above quote along with some other comments. Back in the 1970's when I bought my 1955 truck, one of the first things I noticed was the void where the seat back is nested into the rear of the seat bottom. I was much younger then, and the physical aspect was not what bothered me. Instead, as the truck bounced down the road, with every bump, I didn't like how the design would cause my shirttail to escape from being neatly tucked in my pants.

                    I cured the problem by using a cushion to place the small of my back higher on the seat back where there is better support. After buying more Studebakers, I came to realize that all of the seats are made about the same. (Including other makes of the era.) It greatly helped for me. However, for you folks who are tall enough that you already are challenged to "fit" in a Studebaker, my solution might not work so well. Then there is those who have a stomach that is too tall ...the lack of a tilt steering column provides another challenge.

                    Let's face it, life's full of compromises, and what fits one individual is problematic for another. Similar problems exist for pedal height, clutch & accelerator return spring strength, etc. The longer the trip, the more these problems are amplified. For some, the best solution is to take more frequent breaks. Downside to that, is the trip takes longer. Sometimes, stopping to smell the roses (or make a pit stop) is more important.
                    John Clary
                    Greer, SC

                    SDC member since 1975


                    • #11
                      A counter problem with the front shim will be hamstring pressure. If the seat bottom is raised enough to press on your hams... you'll get impeded blood flow and real sore legs that may eventually get to your back. I'd suggest cruise control for seat shifting...


                      • #12
                        Many years ago, drivers often bought flat triangular cushions which were perhaps 10 cm (4 inches) high at the back, and tapered to a point at the front. My parents used one with their 1952 Dodge, and I would love to find one for my 1947 Studebaker. Instead, I sit on a blanket folded to the shape I want.
                        Bill Jarvis


                        • #13
                          this should help, and priced for us CASOs:
                          Kerry. SDC Member #A012596W. ENCSDC member.

                          '51 Champion Business Coupe - (Tom's Car). Purchased 11/2012.

                          '40 Champion. sold 10/11. '63 Avanti R-1384. sold 12/10.


                          • #14
                            My '51 Commander was also uncomfortable on long cruises. I got one of those folding seat cushions that's intended to let air circulate under your butt and back. It folds flat, is only about a half inch thick, with metal coils covered by a plastic weave. They are old school and cheap. It just distributes my weight enough to keep me up on the seat. I lay a mechanics seat cover under it to protect the cloth upholstery. Fatigue solved!
                            Bill Hallett mentioned "take out your wallet", and he didn't mean get ready to spend big money. Put it in your shirt pocket rather than sitting on it.
                            "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

                            Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                            Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                            sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"


                            • #15
                              My wife swears by this--allows her to drive and remain seated in the car-either one-new or old. I don't have the problem so can't comment, but for $20.00 it may be worth a try.