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Proud New Owner of 51 Commander

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  • Proud New Owner of 51 Commander
    (I think) Body #HG-5 9369 Serial#8I79545

    She arrived yesterday. Thanks to the folks I've been talking to back and forth via email about her. I appreciate the help.

    Now I probably need some stuff to get her going (AND stopping):
    1. Parts for a complete brake change (probably to the later, larger brakes?)
    2. A battery (visit the local AutoZone)
    3. Decide whether or not to use lead additives in the gas (the keyed gas cap may take some getting used to also)
    4. A clean set of cheap seat covers until it's time to get the seats redone (or use a bed sheet!). It looks kinda like a crazed animal was let loose on the door panels then wet and mildewed the seats.
    5. A flush, lube, and fluid check and hopefully that'll be it to get me started

    I guess then I'll start tackling the chrome pieces (that have been painted silver!!!)

    Am I missing anything? (Besides a good mechanic!) I'm planning on more of the daily driver than a show car with this one.

    Oh, and some inexpensive tires for the interim. (Trip to WalMart?)

  • #2
    First,a big congradulations to you Eman,you now own a very desirable Stude,you didn't say wether its a Starlight(bomber windows right around the back),or a Business coupe with just the single seat and huge trunk.
    Either one is much more collectable than a four door,or a two door sedan.
    You don't have to worry about lead additives in a Studebaker engine,the blocks are so hard that unlike lesser brands theres no need to worry about using unleaded fuel.
    The first thing to do,is call one of our great vendors(Chuck Collins or Phil Harris,John Poulous,Sasco,etc),and order four new wheel cylinders and a master cylinder,and the three brake hoses.Then go to your local FLAPS and get all the steel lines you need to build yourself a whole new brake system.The stock brakes are adequate unless your planning on hopping up your engine,but all new brake parts are VERY important.
    After changing all your fluids,tuning your engine to the teeth,and new brakes,throw an old blanket over the seat and start driving your car on short,around the neighborhood trips,and you'll soon discover what other short comings your car has that needs to be addressed right away.
    Soon you'll have a reliable driver that will make you want to start improving its looks,and you can do that at whatever pace your budget allows.
    The important thing is,get it on the road and start driving it,and it will open up a whole new world of strangers coming up to you and asking questions(they used Ford engines didn't they?)and enjoy yourself.They'll be no turning back once your fully afflicted with our "disease"


    • #3
      You do know that they only made ONE Commander Biz coupe in 1951, a prototype. So I doubt it's a biz coupe.
      And the "disease" is very contageous. We have over 50 in all conditions; parts cars to show cars.
      We have a 51 Champion Starlight coupe...

      Matthew Burnette
      [img] [/img]
      63 Daytona HT
      lots more Studes
      lotsa parts too


      • #4
        That's one nice-lookin' Commander Starlight! (BTW it's HC-5) H=Commander, C=starlight coupe & 5=the regal trim level.

        Where has it been hiding? It looks like most everything is there and in decent shape. That makes things easier from the git-go.

        Yeah, the '54-up V8 brakes are the way to go here. Bolt-on upgrade and everything's still pretty easy to drum up (pun intended[}]).

        If lead addatives will give you peace of mind, they won't hurt anything. But basically, you're helping the makers of the stuff more than your car.

        A GOOD lube job for sure. If you've got a shop manual - use it to locate ALL the grease fittings. This thing is from an era where a "lube job" really meant something! Sorta tickles me that shops still advertize a "lube 'n tune" deal these days. Lube what? The door hinges? In my vernacular, an oil change is not a "lube job".

        Seat covers? Historic Automotive

        Flush? First look under the car and see what this thing's freeze plugs look like. Are they weeping or crusty-lookin'[?] If so, they're gonna give you grief sooner or later. Since you've a mind to "flush" the cooling system, doing so in coordination with replacing these plugs (if they need be) would be the optimum approach.
        To get to the two rearmost on the left side, the starter's gotta come off. And too, if you're gonna flush this thing thoroughly, you'll wanna remove the square-headed pipe plug that's screwed in to the lower corner on both side of the engine block.
        In fact - even if the freeze plugs look like they're not gonna cause trouble, you could still remove these plugs and dig around in their holes to loosen up the accumulated gunk that's SURELY come to rest there in the past 54 years!
        Maybe you'll get by with just a good flush insofar as the radiator's concerned - that remains to be seen. But DO count on replacing the radiator hoses and any heater hoses before you start out on a drive somewhere.
        And one other VERY important thing to consider replacing - the little oil pressure hose that goes from the back of the right head to a little copper line that feeds the oil pressure gage. If this thing's as old as the car - or even half it's age - it's VERY prone to being as brittle as a piece of English Toffee. And when it snaps or cracks - it don't take long to pump out your oil as you cruise merrily along.[xx(]
        I've known of more than one Stude that's suffered from this failure.

        Tires[?] 195X75 - 15s will do nicely. I wouldn't go any bigger than 205s on those wheels. Radials will be much nicer than those old bias plys.[^]

        Miscreant at large.

        1957 Transtar 1/2ton
        1960 Larkvertible V8
        1958 Provincial wagon
        1953 Commander coupe
        1957 President 2-dr
        1955 President State
        1951 Champion Biz cpe
        1963 Daytona project FS
        No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


        • #5
          Congratulations: Nice looking car, it should give you lots of enjoyment.
          Notice I didn't mention the hard work[}]

          [img] [/img]


          • #6
            For Studebaker parts--
            Stephen Allen's
            Studebaker International
            I have dealt with both and they have been very good to deal with.

            Also with upholstery my best experience has been with Phantom --


            53commander HDTP
            53 Champion HDTP
            61 Cursed Purple Hawk
            64 Champ long bed V8
            64 GT
            64 Champ long bed V8
            55/53 Studebaker President S/R
            53 Hudson Super Wasp Coupe


            • #7
              Appears to be an old New York State registration sticker. Is that where you found the car? What was its location in NY (just curious)? It appears to be a very nice example of a desirable model to begin with.
              Gary L.
              Wappinger, NY

              SDC member since 1968
              Studebaker enthusiast much longer


              • #8
                I've been driving my 51 Commander Starlight for 12 years. Fix it right and, believe me, you're gonna love driving this car; three time winner in 1951 NASCAR, it fears no highway.
                Suspension is soft; you may want to consider a rear sway bar kit. Best price I've found is Dave Thiebeault
                "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"


                • #9
                  I'm not trying to rain on your parade, most of the advice you've gotten here is good-- but I heartily recommend you keep a fire extinguisher on the seat next to you until you get your baby rewired. Unless you have reason to believe the car has had a recent rewire, you'd be VERY smart to get new harnesses and give it some new circuitry. Don't cut corners on this one; there's nothing more annoying than gremlins nor more demoralizing than a fire...

                  I don't know if you live somewhere where the snow flies, but if you do, drive it till then, then tear it down. I've done off-frames and 'rolling restos', and you'll be happier with the result if you take it down and do it right...

                  51 Commander State Sedan
                  Butler PA


                  • #10
                    You bought one of my favorite Studes, the Star Light Coupe. Yours looks to be in really nice shape. Sure, the chrome needs to be redone, the the body looks sound and the car "sits" right. You've gotten a lot of good advice on this site.
                    I'd like to add Studebaker International too. Above all, join the Studebaker Drivers Club. You won't be disappointed if you do. You can access them on the internet. Their magazine, "Turning Wheels" is the best I've ever seen in the hobby.
                    Best of luck with the car. You're going to love it.
                    '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
                    Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


                    • #11
                      Geez, I'm 33 and already my eyesight is so gone, I'm seeing G's instead of C's! Thanks for the warm welcome and all of the advice. I hope you guys don't mind, but I'll probably be relying on everyone like a crutch. Obviously I'm new to this, but am VERY excited to try and get things done right (I know it's not going to be too easy).

                      This one was brought to me from around south Florida (I'm in Alabama), but I think originally lived in NY. The PO is supposed to be sending me a care package and I've asked that any history he could provide would be appreciated. I believe he said his father-in-law bought it from the original owner's family, but never really got around to restoring it. She's got a little over 55K miles and was supposedly garaged most of the time.



                      • #12
                        sweeeet ride!


                        • #13
                          Guess I was too excited to straighten the actual nose piece before taking those pictures, huh. LOL.



                          • #14
                            Mr. Biggs wrote:
                            quote:And one other VERY important thing to consider replacing - the little oil pressure hose that goes from the back of the right head to a little copper line that feeds the oil pressure gage. If this thing's as old as the car - or even half it's age - it's VERY prone to being as brittle as a piece of English Toffee. And when it snaps or cracks - it don't take long to pump out your oil as you cruise merrily along.
                            Yeah, I have not replaced the one on my 55 truck, and that long length of oil pressure line (with the hose part in the middle) really bothers me. Is there a way to replace the whole setup with an oil pressure sending unit that connects to wires that can then run to the back of the instrument panel? I realize I would need a different kind of gauge, since the current one reads the actual pressure from that long oil line.

                            1955 1/2 Ton Pickup

                            Paul Simpson

                            1955 1/2 Ton Pickup
                            The Red-Headed Amazon
                            Deep in the heart of Texas


                            • #15
                              The only oil pressure gauge IIRC that Stude used that was electrical was the warning lights used 57-59 Stude trucks, 60-64 Champs and 59-62 cars.