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There's something about Studebakers...

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  • There's something about Studebakers...

    It seems that anymore the number of pure stock Studes outside of the SB Museum can be counted on two hands and one foot. I'm not lamenting that everyone seems to find a mod or three to do to their Studebaker. In fact it's kind of a tribute that the base of all these mods is a Studebaker.

    There are weird colors, every kind of engine swap, original interiors and various forms of customization. A friend has a Cruiser that is all Olds under the facade. Today, I see a rather bland looking '42 Stude truck in the Denver Craigslist for a crazy price... read the details and under the cab is a '73 Chevy dually. If that doesn't grab you there is also a '49 Stude with a hot tub mounted in the back!

    Heck, I couldn't leave the Champ like it came... I had to devise a remote brake reservoir, add a Console and a fuse panel. The Speedster is looking for a 12volt conversion, perhaps battery to the trunk and Turner Brakes. We just can't leave 'em like they came.

  • #2
    The way I look at it is - if Studebaker was still making cars, they would have all the upgrades you find in other brands today. When I tried to drive my truck with 1949 technology, I couldn't keep up with the traffic. It still looks the same with the hood closed, but I have no problem driving it anywhere now. And it was comfortable driving it today in temperatures in the triple digits. That vintage air unit works great.

    I sleep good with what I did to my Studebakers. If purists have a problem with that, it is their problem, not mine.
    Jon Stalnaker
    Karel Staple Chapter SDC


    • #3
      Thank goodness, some do leave them, "as-is," and others do go to great lengths to restore them to as original.

      I respect those that do that, because I do think it is important for folks in the future to be able to see, and enjoy them, "as they were."

      For example, I lusted (still lust) after Corvanti's Business Coupe. I would love to own it, and would not modify it in any way, shape, form, or fashion!

      Because I own a radically modified Stude, some may find this view being expressed by me as being somehow... strange.

      I love, and respect the original cars from the past, and even more so, those folks that endeavor to keep/restore them as they were originally built.

      I went way, way out of my way to pick an already modified Stude to build my dream car from.

      I passed on several cars that still retained their original drive line, interior, and body configurations, because I wanted to build a car to my specifications, without taking an original car out of circulation.

      Sometimes, I wonder why I went out of my way to do so, because some club members choose to bitch so loud about cars being modified, that they seemingly appear not to realize that some "modifiers" do go to extreme efforts to ensure that they do not "molest" ("Butcher") an original Stude.

      My car already had, "Turned the corner," when I bought it. It already had the unforgivable C***y engine and transmission conversion. It had an non-original interior, among other things.

      My car would never be "restored" back to original, no matter who bought it.

      Fact is, I had several opportunities to purchase an original, either C, or K, Stude, but passed on them, because I wanted to see them go to someone that would seize the opportunity to rebuild them back to original.

      I witnessed two of those "originals" I "passed" on go to "modifiers." One of them hit the road later, nicely modified, the other has been passed between several owners, still trying to "find itself."

      I'm aware of a couple of others that are still sitting in pastures, rotting away, in the interest of preserving them as original.

      While it's comforting to know the original drive lines are still intact, it's disconcerting to realize that they will never, ever see the road again.

      Which is worse?

      That's a silly question... as any hard-core purist knows, it's better to see them rust into the ground, somewhat as original, as opposed to cruising the street in a "butchered" state.

      There was hope for them 20 years ago, but not so much anymore... even as horrific modifieds.

      We MUST keep as many of these Studebakers as possible original!!

      However, for those that have already "crossed the line," we must attempt to keep them out there on the road, because a Stude on the road, in any configuration, is better than one being crushed, IMHO.

      Purist opinions may vary.

      For the record, I hate the fact that my car is Ch**y powered. If the dang Ch**y engine ever craters in my life time, it will be replaced with a Mopar Hemi!

      In the mean time, I'll just cruise the Interstate at 75mph, at 2100 rpm, with the cruise set, power windows up, and the AC going, with Lester Road Hog Moran on the stereo, knowing I can trust my front power disc brakes, and rack and pinion steering, while loving looking at, and enjoying all of those old original rides out there, thank you ever so very much!
      Last edited by Studedude; 06-30-2013, 12:37 AM.
      Dave Lester


      • #4
        There is certainly a place for all original cars, as well as meticulously restored "as new" cars. But there is also a place for mods and customs.

        It's like art. You may like Picasso, and I might enjoy Rembrandt. They are vastly different styles, but they're both art, worthy of display and appreciation.

        Studebakers are just another form of art. So when people preserve their art by keeping it all-original, I applaud it. When people recreate art by taking their car to conditions as they left the factory, I applaud it. And when people take the original art to a new level though mods and customization, I applaud it.

        There's no tragedy in any of those. The only tragedy is when one of these pieces of art is left to vaporize slowly in a field because someone is "saving" it for some purpose that will never be realized. A canvas that rots away while waiting to be painted on is a waste of a canvas.
        '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

        "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"


        • #5
          I agree with what you're saying, Dave. To me I would rather see a Studebaker on the road SOMEHOW, instead of rotting away into a pile of nothing. For the most part I'm a purist and like to see cars restored back to stock, but I do like the occasional exception. Lets pretend that there is a 1950 Champion sitting in a field, not too rusty, but the engine is blown and a tree fell over the front end. Somebody buys it that doesn't have all the front end parts to fix it to original, but they do have a '52 front end and a 259 sitting in the corner. I'm fine with building it that way, even though I'd rather see it stock. The ones I don't like are modifiers who start with a really nice original survivor of any model, and then chop the roof, change the interior, give it a SBC, and so on. So I guess my philosophy is that "If it's damaged and you can fix it, fix it even if it's not exactly how it left the factory. If you can keep it original, keep it original, just so long as you keep it on the road!"
          I'm even that picky when it comes to building model cars. In the past some of you may remember reading that I built a couple custom 1:18 scale Studebakers. One is a 1937 fire truck, and the other is a precision model of my '53 prototype built from a '51, just like the real thing. For the fire truck, I started out with a 1:18 Coupe Express and for the '51 I started out with a Highway 61 '51 Champion. I know those models are common, but I made it a point to search out and find DAMAGED models to start with. The '37 was missing the hood ornament and had really bad paint. The '51 was all screwed up; missing half the grille, a tail light bezel, the license plate on the back was colored pink, and it was very dusty. Now both of those models are show cars, in fact the '37 took a first at the South Bend IM last year. Unfortunately I'm not going to Colorado this year so the '53 won't get judged until next year at the soonest.

          I wanted to keep my '40 as stock as possible, and I soon found out that that's almost impossible on a prewar car. Parts are extra hard to find, and I work for the biggest Studebaker parts dealer there is! There are a lot of parts that I had to hand fabricate just to keep that car on the road the way it is. The body looks like the scrap metal express, but mechanically it's still going and that's what counts. The '63 Turtle is as original as the day the factory engineering department left it, with one exception: a changed steering flange. (The original flange was gone, so one had to be added so the Turtle could steer. Without the new part, the Turtle was in two pieces.) The '53 will one day be as close to stock as possible... Whatever that means, it's a prototype!

          Whichever way I look at it, I like all Studebakers.
          Last edited by Chris_Dresbach; 06-30-2013, 12:49 AM. Reason: typo
          Chris Dresbach


          • #6
            If someone finds that He needs/wants to modify a Studebaker to suit His tastes...or as the only feasible way to save the car.....MORE POWER TO HIM! What I see as a problem is someone who makes modifications, say engine modifications for example, to an otherwise original car, then, for whatever reason, STILL describes that vehicle as 'original'.


            • #7
              It's not a Studebaker until there's a Chevy under the hood...
              Tom - Bradenton, FL

              1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2514.10)
              1964 Studebaker Commander - 170 1V, 3-Speed w/OD


              • #8
                If Josephine would've had a Studebaker V8 under the hood instead of a totally run-down six that didn't even turn I would for sure have kept that!
                Next option for me, since unused Stude V8's are rare here, is Mopar & so it went.
                Not that I dislike Chevy-stuff but I don't prefer them if I can chose, & I can.


                • #9
                  I see it as an acknowledgement of something special rather than blasphemy that there are more knockoffs of Shelby CSX Cobras than Pepsi can thin aluminum originals from Carol Shelby.

                  I see the same something special that, regardless of form, so many Studebakers survive in any form and often become sheetmetal artist's canvas. The unique styling models.. Starlight Coupes, Bullet noses, C/K's and Avanti were more a kin to 2000 design than '50's/ 60's styling and is partially to blame. It is this same uniqueness that calls to the purists to restore down to the color bolt.

                  The something special is even evident from the impressed but uneducated like the idiot, trying to impress his wife, who stuck his head in the window of my Champ at the parade last week and asked, "What year DeSoto is this?"


                  • #10
                    Is it really your's if you don't modify it? Or just on loan from the next guy that purchases it if you don't modify it?

                    For me it's doesn't stop with Studebakers, my 39 Ford coupe had an SBC and the 57 Chebby Pickup had a 401 nailhead among others. I guess I just need to pull the engine out of what I own and replace it with another brand along with paint and other safety equipment. A fetish possibly?

                    In any case, Kudo's to those that endeavor to save the history of the marque by maintaining/restoring the ones that are stock. That just isn't me.

                    , ,


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Swifster View Post
                      It's not a Studebaker until there's a Chevy under the hood...
                      You mean it's not a '65-'66 Studebaker until there's a Chevy under the hood!
                      '63 Cruiser
                      '57 Packard wagon
                      '61 Lark Regal 4 dr wagon
                      '50 Commander 4 dr sedan


                      • #12
                        Went to the NSRA NW Street Rod Nationals yesterday, probably about 800-1000 street rods where there. Never saw so may in one place before. Only saw two Studies, which say's to me, we are among the few. The elite. Among those that demand perfection! We are unique individuals who know the very best when we see it!!

                        No, seriously, I'm not sure why more folks are not into Studebakers, and making them their own??? I'm from the same cloth as Bob I guess, I've done more engine converions than I can count, some just for the fun of seeing if I could cram it in. Most had a better reason, but all have been successful, and I've then enjoyed driving them. Just can't leave'm alone...


                        • #13
                          My Daytona came without an engine, so I bought a Studebaker 289. My Commander has a Stude engine (6) and that's being convertered to a 4.3L Chevy V6. I think in most cases, new owners have no idea of parts support that's available. I didn't. It comes as a pleasant surprise.
                          Tom - Bradenton, FL

                          1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2514.10)
                          1964 Studebaker Commander - 170 1V, 3-Speed w/OD


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Swifster View Post
                            My Daytona came without an engine, so I bought a Studebaker 289. My Commander has a Stude engine (6) and that's being convertered to a 4.3L Chevy V6. I think in most cases, new owners have no idea of parts support that's available. I didn't. It comes as a pleasant surprise.
                            Good point!


                            • #15
                              Many of us are doing "Restifications". Keeping the body and interior stock and modifying the mechanics to more modern specs. This makes the cars more useable and allows the owners to promote their cars in something other then a local show or museum. Let's face it, driving a 6 banger, with no air is not a pleasant experience if traveling for several hundred miles. I have several 1950 Champions that I bought with the idea of maybe getting 1 original car and having 2 modifieds. As I delve deeper into the projects, it's shown that going original is not cost effective and actually, more work then it's worth. By doing restifications, I can enjoy the cars, pass them on to others that can enjoy them and still have the Studebaker name promoted. Now, if any of these cars had been top notch originals to start with, the course of action would have been preservation. My 1966 Daytona is pretty much original, enough that I replace previously modified items with correct as I can, and would never, knowingly, modify the car to a point that it can't easily be returned to stock. Since it has been documented to be the very first 66 Daytona built, I feel that it's my duty to preserve this as a bit of history. So, here I am saying it's OK to modify, but not if the car is an original survivor. There are plenty of "Parts cars" out there that need someone to save them by doing body transplants or driveline chances to get them on the road again. Anything is better then a crusher.
                              sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
                              1950 Champion Convertible
                              1950 Champion 4Dr
                              1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
                              1957 Thunderbird