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New (to me) '55 Studebaker Wagon

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  • New (to me) '55 Studebaker Wagon

    My father (Charlie Chan, SDC member 072812C), a steadfast Studebaker fan, recently passed. Being I have been living far away across country, he and I never had time to wrench together on his Studey's, he liked to refurbish them. He used to own a Hawk (long sold) and there's a truck (in parts) that sits in the back of the house. We don't know where to begin with the truck (I can't yet find any documentation of it) and there's a chassis, tranny sits elsewhere, can't yet find the engine, and there are parts in at least 4 cabinets. Supposedly all that's needed to get it together is there. Not sure what we'll do with the truck, I'm open to suggestions.

    But alas, I have inherited his '55 Wagon (per the title). But I'm looking to learn more about this car. I've joined the SDC, been reviewing the Studebaker Museum, and Google of course. Seems this may be a Commander Conestoga? I failed to get more pics, I'll be returning in Spring to gather it up for dad's memorial then bringing it North to its new home. Below are pics of dad with it as a show, and me (with one an ode to dad, he was ornery). What I can tell you from memory and what I've been told:
    Nose is altered?
    Carb replaced with an Edelbrock
    Aftermarket wheels
    Several gauges have been replaced

    After driving it, questions started popping up in my mind:
    1. What fuel (leaded/unleaded)? Being an Edlebrock carb, I feel like maybe unleaded?
    2. After the drive and how weak the brakes felt (had to press them hard), may do a disc brake conversion (looking at Turner Brakes)
    3. Drivers door window is cracked, may replace it if I can find one
    4. It's hard to start (requires starter fluid), but once running and warmed up it runs/idles fairly well. May need to find out what Edelbrock it is and see if there's something I can do with starting.

    And I'd love info/links to more info that I can find for my Wagon. Thanks, Dave (Spamcan)

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Charlie.jpg Views:	0 Size:	123.4 KB ID:	1926553
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    Click image for larger version  Name:	Front.jpg Views:	0 Size:	136.7 KB ID:	1926554
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Driver.jpg Views:	0 Size:	117.6 KB ID:	1926555
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Spamcan; 01-04-2022, 09:57 AM.
    2nd Generation Studebaker owner
    1955 Commander Conestoga Wagon

  • #2
    Nice -

    1. What fuel (leaded/unleaded)? Being an Edlebrock carb, I feel like maybe unleaded?
    Whatever fuel you have available (either will work fine). Depending on the ignition timing, if it's higher than the "book" value (it should be !), premium fuel should be used. If the ignition timing is per the book, "regular" will work.

    2. After the drive and how weak the brakes felt (had to press them hard), may do a disc brake conversion (looking at Turner Brakes)
    Look at "Hot Rods and Brakes" kits also. A little cheaper. A LOT lighter, just as tough. I had a comparable kit on my old 59 Lark. 93,000 miles without a problem.

    3. Drivers door window is cracked, may replace it if I can find one
    Just regular flat glass. Any glass, auto shop should be able to make you one. Give them the one that you have to use as a template. Finding the same tint may be a bit of a problem.

    4. It's hard to start (requires starter fluid), but once running and warmed up it runs/idles fairly well. May need to find out what Edelbrock it is and see if there's something I can do with starting.
    It may be, and most likely is... Todays alcohol laced fuel evaporates quickly. Nothing you or anyone else can do about it. It's life today !
    BUT, with the installation of an electric fuel pump, you can fill the hit the starter, and be able to start the engine fine..
    On the carburetor, there will be a four (or five) digit number on one of the front corner, hold down pads near the stud/bolt.
    Tuning the carburetor is a WHOLE different matter, and has nothing to do with the fuel being evaporated from the bowls. If your dad was driving the car, the carburetor is most likely very close to good in tune.

    It's kinda slow right now, but, there IS a Conestoga site -

    Another section -

    The more folks the better. Ask any questions, everyone is pretty friendly there.



    • #3
      Thank you Mike!!
      2nd Generation Studebaker owner
      1955 Commander Conestoga Wagon


      • #4
        In the words of Miracle Max, "Eh, I've seen worse. Your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between all dead and mostly dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. All dead, well there's only one thing you can do... Go through his pockets and look for loose change!"

        Take it slow, learn as much as you can, ask questions of local SDC members and mentally picture your father riding along.

        jack vines


        • #5
          Thanks PackardV8, he'll surely be riding along. The pic of him I included on my original post will be placed somewhere on the car.
          2nd Generation Studebaker owner
          1955 Commander Conestoga Wagon


          • #6
            Welcome to the SDC and to the SDC Forum David! Good to have another Washingtonian here! Are you in Western?

            Your Conestoga definitely has a Cool Custom Trim-less Look!

            Since we know it has an Edelbrock 4 Brl. it's a V8, so if it is the Original Stude. Engine, it's a Commander V8.

            Get that Right Parking Light Bulb replaced. Is it converted to 12 Volt Positive Ground from 6 Volt Negative Ground?

            If you close up the Choke for Winter Weather, it may start right up.
            Second Generation Stude Driver,
            Proud '54 Starliner Owner
            SDC Member Since 1967


            • #7
              Dave, welcome to the Forum. Sorry for your loss.

              Regarding your question about leaded/unleaded gas, the only leaded gas sold in Washington that I know of is racing fuel, but it's not street legal. Your question then would be which pump gas to use: regular unleaded, mid-grade unleaded, or premium unleaded, and ethanol/non-ethanol? As recently discussed in another thread, most stock Studebaker engines run fine on regular unleaded. It really depends how your engine is set up. Also, if you're not sure if your fuel pump and carburetor seals are compatible with the alcohol in ethanol gas, its best to buy non-ethanol gas if you can find it.
              Mark L


              • #8
                For clarification, 1955 and before were 6 volt positive ground and 1956 and later were 12 volt negative ground.


                • #9

                  My sympathies on your Dad's passing. He has entrusted you with a really cool Studebaker!

                  Other folks have answered your questions regarding the wagon, but I see no one has provided any suggestions regarding the truck. It sounds like the truck is fully disassembled, which makes it very difficult to transport. Think hard about whether you want to take on a project like that, to keep it. You already have a very nice Studebaker that just needs a little work to drive and enjoy, but do you want two? If so, getting it ready to transport to WA could be a big job depending on how much disassembled it is.

                  If you don't want to take on that project, consider contacting the local Studebaker chapter wherever the truck is located (I don't think you said, but it sounds like it's a good ways away from WA) to see if anyone would be interested in a project. You would have to make it clear that it's all the parts or nothing, plus set a price that would make it attractive to someone to take on. Disassembled projects are a hard sell a lot of times, but trying to sell it piecemeal would be a tough long drawn out ordeal.

                  Do you know exactly what the truck is? If it's a rare Studebaker truck, like a 1937 Coupe Express, or a 1930's Cab over engine (COE), or a Diesel, or a 4-wheel drive Studebaker truck, then the situation might be significantly different as far as selling it. Location, likewise, may may make a big difference. But without more specific info, it's hard to offer suggestions.
                  Winston-Salem, NC
                  Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at:


                  • #10
                    Spamcan - I'm very sorry to hear about your dad's passing. I remember the green wagon from many, many Vista Rod Runs, and as we both lived in the same area he would often stop by my house just to say "hi" and chat Studes (my Lark is always in the driveway, so it's kind of an open invitation!). I test drove the Hawk for him before he bought it!

                    I'll miss seeing Charlie and the Connie here in North County, but am glad it's gone home with you.

                    Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" |


                    • #11
                      Here's one I took at the Rod Run a couple of years back. What a great car!

                      Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" |


                      • #12
                        Thank you all for the responses.

                        StudeRich - Thank you. I am in Bremerton/Seabeck area of WA. I believe it is the original Studey V-8 (labeled Studebaker on the valve covers). I'm not sure if there's a right-side electrical issue or 2 bulbs out, but both right side front and rear indicators are not functioning. I'll dig into it once I get it home, including determining 6v vs 12v - but I do believe it's a 12v battery, so must be converted to 12v? I'm a decent electrician so not too challenging there.
                        As for the choke, not sure where that is. There's a knob that seems to be what would be a choke, but it wouldn't move more than 1/4" in/out, nor rotate so it was confusing what it was. I'll get more pics and ask more questions on what/where!

                        Mark L - I have a local gas station where I can get Ethanol free unleaded gas (use it for my boat and other small engines). Thanks for the tip.

                        r1lark/Paul - As showbizkid stated, the Wagon comes from and still is in Northern San Diego county (Oceanside).
                        As for the truck, I have no idea what model/year. When I return for the memorial I'll dig in further into dad's drawers of paperwork in hopes of finding details. I'll also uncover a lot of it and get pics (including the VIN wherever it's at on the truck - left dash area like newer vehicles?) and post here, see if someone here can help identify it. As much as I would love to take that rebuild on for my dad, I do not have the ability to. We will be selling it to someone that would take it on - with the caveat to let us see it from time to time or at least when completed. ;-)

                        showbizkid - Wow, thank you so much for sharing the picture and story, brought tears to my eyes. So you probably understand the ornery pic of me sharing the bird. :-) I would like to see if we can connect in person when I come back to town for the memorial (looking like 1st or 2nd week of April as of now). The Studey will be front/center of the memorial. I would love to hear more stories of dad's Studey adventures that he never got to tell me. Maybe you have other pics? And are there other Studey/car people he interacted with that you can connect me with? Maybe an impromptu car meet/rod run I can bring the Studey to during the time I'll be there?
                        Also, did he ever mention to you what truck model he had and was going to restore?
                        2nd Generation Studebaker owner
                        1955 Commander Conestoga Wagon


                        • #13
                          Check to be sure the choke closes properly and opens properly after starting. I'm fond of the electric choke units, but if you turn on the ignition and crank for a bit and it doesn't start, the choke can open prematurely. I like to pat the gas on mine, it helps.


                          • #14
                            Looks good.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Corbinstein0 View Post
                              I like to pat the gas on mine, it helps.
                              I do not understand this sentence.
                              RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                              10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                              4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                              5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon