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  • 54 Commander

    Hey everyone! I just bought a 1954 Commander Starlight. It looks all original with just over 63k miles. The chrome on it looks good and runs really smoothly. The electrical system needs some work but is otherwise a great running and driving car. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in this color combo in person.

    I want to keep it as original as possible but am hoping to increase power out of the 232. Would an Offenhauser intake manifold and valve covers fit? I’ve seen them pop up online from time to time but I’d think a dual carburetor would help. Maybe headers (they’d have to be built(?) and an exhaust? My dream would be to set aside funds and build a twin supercharged 289 but this car is so stock and original I don’t want to go overboard with it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    One thing to consider is it is very easy to over carburetor the 232. I had bought a 54 with a 450 cfm four barrel. Anything over that is not going to give the results you see.

    I have heard that with better breathing heads, and a R1 Cam works wonders for the smaller engine, but I have not tried that. Personally, my 52 with overdrive is my all around favorite with good pickup from a stop and over all comfort with highway speeds in overdrive.

    Nice looking car with a pleasing color combination and a nice interior.

    Bob Miles

    Comment


    • #3
      It is a nice appearing Starlight, but I do not believe that it is stock. I believe that the only two-tone for a 1954 Starlight with a Safford Cream bottom would be with an Ontario Blue or Velvet Black roof. I see the major deviation as the way that it is two-toned. For 1954, the break should be at the C-pillar. Your car is painted similar to a 1955. From the pictures, at least the right front fender appears to have been repainted. I don't want to run down your excellent car, but did want to comment relative to your "all original" statement.

      As far as drivetrain, my suggestion is to tune it up and drive it for awhile and see how you like it. If you still decide that you want a little more, bolt in a 259 or 289 Studebaker V8 and save the original engine.
      Gary L.
      Wappinger, NY

      SDC member since 1968
      Studebaker enthusiast much longer

      Comment


      • #4
        l like Gary's suggestion above. Also be careful about tire sizes and types - do more research about that and follow advice by Bob Palma, our Studebaker Drivers ClubTechnical Adviser!

        Nice looking car! Congratulations on the purchase!
        Roger Hill


        60 Lark Vlll, hardtop, black/red, Power Kit, 3 spd. - "Juliette"
        61 Champ Deluxe, 6, black/red, o/d, long box. - "Jeri"
        Junior Wagon - "Junior"

        "In the end, dear undertaker,
        Ride me in a Studebaker"

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks! I appreciate it. I ordered the build sheet for the car so hopefully that helps clarify the paint and engine number. I have seen brochure pictures of the yellow/green combo so I do think it was an original option. I actually just bought a promo with this color combo as well on eBay. The car still had some dirt on it in the rear so that may be why it looks like fresher paint up front. My guess is that it was repainted at some point but I also see signs that make me think it is original paint. But I’m far from an expert.

          thanks for the advice on the heads and cam! I’ll have to start looking for a set. I do know it’s awfully slow. If the engine isn’t original, I’ll likely start looking for an R2-R4 swap or clone. If it is original; just something to wake it up a bit. A tuneup is also in the cards as it sat in a collection at some winery in Napa valley for a long time. Even the trunk looks original with the original tar used at the factory.

          Comment


          • #6
            It is not the freshness of the paint that made me question it, but rather, body color paint where it shouldn't be.
            Gary L.
            Wappinger, NY

            SDC member since 1968
            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

            Comment


            • #7
              The biggest Power Robber for a '54 Commander would not be anything about the Engine at all!

              WHAT Transmission and Rear Axle it has, makes ALL the difference in the World!
              Those Detroit Gear Studebaker Automatic Drive, 3 Speed Automatics that use only 2 Speeds, make a real Slug out of a very decent performing 232 V8 Engine.

              Since you say it is Slow, but do not mention if it has a 3 Speed Manual, 3 Speed Manual W/Overdrive or a Studebaker Automatic Drive, I don't know if that is contributing to it's lack of Performance or not.
              StudeRich
              Second Generation Stude Driver,
              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

              Comment


              • #8
                Nice!!! I like to look at original cars. Give us some more pictures--please.

                Comment


                • #9
                  studegary where are you seeing that? Just the paint around the rear window? It may be from being a deluxe and not having the trim piece on the c pillar. I spent months trying to find the most original looking car that I could find. There are a lot of terrible custom 53s out there that finding one this nice and original looking wasn’t easy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Beautiful car! Maybe a few more pics of the interior, and inside the trunk, would be good? Showing the dash, door panels, and headliner.

                    I'm attaching 3 pictures below. Showing a Champion, Deluxe, Starlight coupe. With the correct two tone paint line, that Gary was describing.

                    Click image for larger version  Name:	00k0k_29cezoUfqJJ_600x450.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	30.5 KB ID:	1815106
                    Click image for larger version  Name:	00101_fLoY62OSnCP_600x450.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	30.3 KB ID:	1815107
                    Click image for larger version  Name:	00K0K_1UiyuI4WC17_600x450.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	29.5 KB ID:	1815108

                    ​​​​​​​Mark
                    sigpic

                    S2Deluxe = (5H - C3).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J_Cole View Post
                      I spent months trying to find the most original looking car that I could find. There are a lot of terrible custom 53s out there that finding one this nice and original looking wasn’t easy.
                      No doubt, you are 100% correct! From the pictures you posted so far, you seem to have done quite well. Don't let it discourage you, if there are a couple small flaws!

                      Mark
                      sigpic

                      S2Deluxe = (5H - C3).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Beautiful car!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's not hard to find a 289, and it bolts right in. Why not drive and enjoy the car while you build a nice 289 for it? Then just swap it in over a weekend.
                          1950 Commander Land Cruiser
                          1951 Champion Business Coupe
                          1951 Commander Starlight
                          1952 Champion 2Dr. Sedan
                          1953 Champion Starlight
                          1953 Commander Starliner
                          1953 2R5
                          1956 Golden Hawk Jet Streak
                          1957 Silver Hawk
                          1957 3E5 Pick-Up
                          1959 Silver Hawk
                          1961 Hawk
                          1962 Cruiser 4 speed
                          1963 Daytona Convertible
                          1964 Daytona R2 4 speed
                          1965 Cruiser
                          1970 Avanti

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Beautiful car! Don't be discouraged, we are not trying to rain on your parade. We are just trying to help you understand what you really have. I can tell by the rocker panels that the car was probably a good solid, maybe rust free car before it was refurbished. I agree with Gary that the paint treatment break indicates that the thin piece of stainless was added at the time of the car's repaint. The paint break on 1953-54 cars was midway up the "C" pillar. IMO another sign of an extensive non-stock refurbishment is the possible non-stock upholstery material.

                            Enjoy the car for what it is, and don't dwell on what it isn't. The fact is that very few of the early CK cars have survived in their original livery. Between some quality issues and previous owner's propensity to alter these beautiful cars, it's surprising that any originals have survived. it's truly noteworthy when a properly vetted original does surface.
                            Bill

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                            • #15
                              It is an automatic car, so is that why it feels so slow? Are there other options out there? I got the car yesterday so I’m still learning it and what it needs before I start messing with the engine

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