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Love at First Sight

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  • Love at First Sight

    Hello Everyone. My name is Jeff and I have been into cars my whole life, mostly Chevy and Fords. That all changed when I saw a photo of a 1955 Studebaker President, and it was love at first sight! Up until then I never knew the beauty of the Studebaker design.

    My first step was to learn more about these beautiful cars, so I scoured the internet and found this club and immediately joined. What a great move! I've learned so much in such a short amount of time.

    I really want to find a 1955 Commander or President 2-door for a driver/showcar, but I want to get as much research in as possible before I make a purchase. My goal is to make it as safe as possible for todays driving, but still keep the original look, as well as pep up the engine a bit. Are there disc brake kits available for the 55 Stude? Do they make performance parts for the V-8, or do most guys swap to a small block Chevy? How hard would this be if this is the case? I would rather keep the stock engine, but would like to hop it up a bit...

    I purchased a 55 service manual and it's on the way. Are there any good book suggestions to learn more? [?]

    Thanks for your help,

  • #2
    Hey Jeff, and welcome aboard! You've been bitten by the bug But no worries, it's all good.

    Turner Brake makes kits for Studebakers; disc conversions as well as dual-circuit master cylinders. Check out .

    There are some factory-type things you can do to amp up your Stude engine. Factory 4-bbl manifolds can be had (or converted from 2bbl stock) that mount Carter WCFB or AFB carbs (Edelbrock these days). Factory-style cast iron headers are available as repros. Twin-Traction rear ends are pretty easy to come by, and many 50s cars were factory-equipped with them "for safety" There are some multi-carb setups too, but these are vintage units and take some hunting to come up with. And you can always bolt on factory-style McCulloch superchargers, like many here have, although it takes a little bit of custom fab to fit them under the sloping '53-'55 hoodline. An underhood turbo can also be fitted, although you'd want to do a complete engine rebuild before going down that road (as you would with any engine you'd apply turbo boost to).

    Good news is, the Studebaker V8 block didn't change much from introduction through end of production. From 232 to 301, the same basic block casting was used, so you can easily swap one for the other. You'll find that the Stude engine is pretty bulletproof and is a well-designed 1st-generation modern V8. And nothing else sounds like it!

    That said, plenty of guys here have done the SBC conversion, so it's not terribly hard, although some fabrication will have to be done to make it work.

    However you decide, we're glad to have you here! Post often


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


    • #3
      quote:Originally posted by restonut

      I really want to find a 1955 Commander or President 2-door for a driver/showcar, but I want to get as much research in as possible before I make a purchase.
      There were two different President hardtops available in 1955. One was the 'regular' hardtop, and the other was a limited edition, specially trimmed model called the President Speedster.

      K6 President:

      K7 President Speedster:



      • #4
        Wow!...Thanks for the info and the pictures!

        Other than the trim and interior, did the Speedster share the same body and drivetrain as the president, or did it have larger CI engine?

        I have to say, I have never seen a car that is so beautiful from any angle.



        • #5
          "I have to say, I have never seen a car that is so beautiful from any angle. "

          You must not have seen any of this fellow's cars then...



          • #6
            The Presidents and Commanders for 1955, used the 259 V8. (There was a version used early in '55, but it was dropped in favor of the larger displacement). Studebaker used the same basic block for all sizes of V8 that they offered from 51 thru 64. It's a VERY sturdy block and has been pushed well past 800HP with practically NO modifications to the lower end! Read that: takes to super or turbo charging very nicely, thank you! In fact, the factory offered optional supercharging in 57 & 58 and again in 62-3-4.

            As far as the 55 hardtops OR coupes are concerned, there's VERY little that ain't the same, whether President, Commander or Speedster. For that matter, there were 6 cyl variants of these bodies that looked just like their V8 brothers, but had only 185cu.inches of flathead power under the hood!

            Transes were straight 3-spd, 3-spdW/OD (preferred!) and the Studebaker automatic, which was a GREAT automatic tranny, but is now rather obscure and unknown to todays tranny rebuilders.

            Of course, your car - your choice, but I and others have contended that dropping in the obligatory 350 is kinda boring. Furthermore, it's not without it's technical challenges. There's no "kit" or "how to" book to adapting alternate powerplants to Studes, so you're gonna wing it or rely on someone who's done it before for guidance.
            Heh - nothing surprizes gearheads more than to find out there's NOT a 350 causing the rumble from under the back bumper![:0] After all - isn't that what EVERYBODY does?[:I][^][|)]

            1957 Transtar 1/2ton
            1963 Cruiser
            1960 Larkvertible V8
            1958 Provincial wagon
            1953 Commander coupe
            1957 President two door

            No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


            • #7
              You are not limited to the standard 259, a later 289 will bolt in and be undetectable if properly tricked out. A 289 with 4 bbl and dual exhausts listed at 225hp, enough to smoke the tires all the way up.

              Tom Bredehoft
              '53 Commander Coupe (since 1959)
              '55 President (6H Y6) State Sedan
              (Under Construction 617 hrs.)
              '05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
              All Indiana built cars


              • #8
                Check out that H.T next to the Speedster,looks like someone put a vinal top on it.

                Joseph R. Zeiger
                Joseph R. Zeiger


                • #9
                  I always loved the pink color combo on the Speedster

                  57 & 58 Packards and Larks


                  • #10
                    On my second 55 Commander coupe. First was a 259 Std with OD, but first gear was blown. Absolutely stunned people who heard it wind out from a standing start in 2nd (lol). I had no money and gave the car to the tranny shop when I was leaving the country. Thirty years later I'm building it's replacement. Staying with a 259, but this one's an automatic. I may have enough parts left over for a rat rod project, but I'm fascinated with the way these things look, sound and go, the way the factory let them loose. Try it stock, you can always add on later .
                    Dave Warren (Perry Mason by day, Perry Como by night)


                    • #11
                      Well, it's decided...stock Stude engine it is. After hearing that distinctive rumble and studying more what you can do to them, I'm hooked.

                      I know they used t-10 trannys in the later years (? correct me if I'm wrong ?), but are 4 speeds hard to come by in Studes? When I find one, the biggest mod I want to do is add a 4-gear if it doesn't have one.



                      • #12
                        Those Speedsters looked so nice from the rear.
                        But I always hated those big back-up lights on the trunk.

                        Chris Pile
                        Midway Chapter SDC
                        The Studebaker Special
                        The only difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers


                        • #13
                          Back up lights, front fog lights, front fender and hood spears and roof line stainless, paint schemes and dividers, scripts, hub caps, etc. distinguish the Presidents and Speedsters from the Commander Regal body mods....and that's about all. Interiors on the Commanders did not include diamond tufted leather, except as an option, I believe, as with power windows. Under the hood, the 2 bbl 259 Bearcat was upgraded to a 4 bbl 259 Passmaster with dual exhausts for the President and Speedster. I think the theory of diminishing marginal utility applies to these coupes. The more you have of something, the less utility it provides you to have some more of the same thing. I like the cleaner appearance and less weight of a Commander Regal, but the Speedster is the "money" car. Each to his own tastes!
                          Dave Warren (Perry Mason by day, Perry Como by night)