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Some posters say that Studebaker cars are fragile upon impact; is that really correct?

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  • Some posters say that Studebaker cars are fragile upon impact; is that really correct?

    In the 1964 SW thread a poster made mention of Studes being a bad choice as demo derby cars since they're 'fragile'. My question being is are they really that much more frail compared to ________? And if indeed they're that much weaker than a Brand X: any particular part i.e. frame, suspension, body or what?

    In not trying to 'Troll' here either; the above re legit questions.................

    Note I have NO interest in derbying anything; I'm more interested in safety when behind the wheel.
    --------------------------------------

    Sold my 1962; Studeless at the moment

    Borrowed Bams50's sigline here:

    "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

  • #2
    I don't know about cars, but my M series pickup seems like it wouldn't take a hit very well . Cab is single layer ,not inner and outer. When bought ,it had a caved in top and caved in hood. Not saying others can't have that happen, but that and 4 bolts holding on cab and 3 being loose for springs seems like a bad set up for crash.
    Randy Wilkin
    1946 M5 Streetrod
    Hillsboro,Ohio 45133

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    • #3
      I am not sure where that comment would have come from. My personal experience is that they are pretty tough and hold up as well or better than most other makes of the same vintage. As for empirical data, it might be hard to come by since serious scientific crash testing as done today was not as rigorous back when Studebakers were built. I have seen a few photographs of impacts between Studebakers and modern vehicles and the Studebakers tended to fare much better. That being said, passengers are much safer in modern vehicles. Compared to their peers of the day they were sturdy solid cars. Compared to cars of today they are tougher but lack the modern crumple zone engineering and passenger safety features.
      Not sure if this is of any help answering your question. I am sure others here with more engineering experience will chime in. My final observation is that it is better to not test your car against another vehicle or object. It can't turn out well no matter what you drive.
      Ed Sallia
      Dundee, OR

      Sol Lucet Omnibus

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      • #4
        I grew up in South bend and ran the local derby in the late 60s, 70s and 80s. I seen many a stude in demo derbys. My brother ran one once. I told him to watch out because they seem to catch on fire on front impact. And it did just that. They were not a good choice for demo derby. Not strong enough frame. Most of the ones I seen run were from 53 to 64 models. The earlier ones might have fared better.

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        • #5
          Our local D-Derby group drags out a ramp, and holds roll-overs at about half of their shows during the summer. Most points at end of season wins the Roll-Over contest. A friend of mine used a '63 2 door sedan for 2 or 3 seasons. It had been rolled at least 20 times before he retired it. Roof bent over, but never did go flat.
          The Lark types can be vulnerable in a front collision because of light bumpers and very little overhang.

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          • #6
            In 1970 I flipped a 56 Sky Hawk. The roof was crushed down into the seats. Fortunately, the doors came open and we were ejected. The rest of the car was pretty much intact.
            Neil Thornton

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            • #7
              Reading through the replies; the common theme on at least the pillared boystyle Studes is weak frames in at least front impacts.
              --------------------------------------

              Sold my 1962; Studeless at the moment

              Borrowed Bams50's sigline here:

              "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

              Comment


              • #8
                My personal experience comes from my two Larks of the same vintage, which were my '63 Daytona and my '64 Commander. Studebaker didn't have intentions of these cars lasting this long, maybe 5-10 years, before the buyer would come back and get another one. Body wise, they flipped the gauges of metal that were used in the hood in the trunk, top, and in the floors. They should have used the gauge of metal in the upper structure, throughout the whole car. The metal in the upper structure of the cars has to be a thicker gauge, because they don't have any rust through on them, even after all these years in the Chicago area. The floors, body panels, trunk, and inner fenders, seems to be a whole other story. The body panels are bolted on, and can very easily be flexed. The floors in both cars are rusted through. Whatever they used underneath is very thin, as we have three other modern vehicles that have been in this hostile environment, and don't possess the problems as bad as these cars do. Now, about the frame. For a vehicle that was coined to be tough, my Commander is out of service due to rust through at the rearmost passenger shackle bushing. The metal is just gone, it's not there anymore. The frames are bare steel and a couple gauges thicker than the six cylinder ladder frames that they were using in the early 50's. A few of us remember about what they had told us about putting a V8 into the lighter gauge six cylinder frames, so the frames cannot be all that capable of being subject to this kind of abuse. Compound those things with the fact that it's just a sheetmetal ladder frame and a body dropped on it, which will be subject to getting not just hit from the front, but also the sides, and I'd rather use the vehicle as Studebaker intended it to be used as!

                The vehicles that this car would be coming up against, might be vehicles like the slab sided, massive ladder frame, unibody constructed Fords. These later model vehicles have been crash tested, so they're built to take a hit or two. This also another area where I've had personal experience with how these cars hold in a crash, in particular, the later model Lincolns.

                I am not doing this from crash test data, I'm doing this from years of ownership and personal experience!
                1964 Studebaker Commander R2 clone
                1963 Studebaker Daytona Hardtop with no engine or transmission
                1950 Studebaker 2R5 w/170 six cylinder and 3spd OD
                1955 Studebaker Commander Hardtop w/289 and 3spd OD and Megasquirt port fuel injection(among other things)

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                • #9
                  Light gauge material all over Studebakers...period.
                  Have you seen the door jamb area of the main body..? Not much material there. One side door jamb material in a GM, Monte Carlo would make up the whole firewall and both door jambs on a Stude..! And my Mom even crushed that in a crash...without being hurt..!
                  The rocker panel area on most cars is at "least" formed into a single layer piece of tubing, the rocker panel on a 58 to 64 Chevy is 7 layers (9 in some areas) thick..! A Stude is a single piece of formed flat stock into a quarter round...

                  NO...I do not want to crash my Stude, both for my personal safety and parts availability. Though my 60 Lark 2dr. wagon is full roll caged, bumper to bumper, door to door. I feel safe in that Stude.

                  Mike

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mike Van Veghten View Post
                    Light gauge material all over Studebakers...period.
                    Have you seen the door jamb area of the main body..? Not much material there. One side door jamb material in a GM, Monte Carlo would make up the whole firewall and both door jambs on a Stude..! And my Mom even crushed that in a crash...without being hurt..!
                    The rocker panel area on most cars is at "least" formed into a single layer piece of tubing, the rocker panel on a 58 to 64 Chevy is 7 layers (9 in some areas) thick..! A Stude is a single piece of formed flat stock into a quarter round...

                    NO...I do not want to crash my Stude, both for my personal safety and parts availability. Though my 60 Lark 2dr. wagon is full roll caged, bumper to bumper, door to door. I feel safe in that Stude.

                    Mike
                    If you're going to crash an early '50s car in a demo derby or traffic wreck, you'll be a lot better off in an early 50s Packard. The Stude's no more flimsy than an equal year Plymouth, but...I's no Caddy or Packard.

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                    • #11
                      The thread in question was written by someone who wanted to buy 2 wagons,that had been sitting out for years.He mentioned putting one of them in a derby.. He was advised that there probably wasn't much metal left in the cars frames.The frames are 13 gauge steel to begin with,minus how much thickness after rusting for 50 years.?? Anybody that has done work on these frames and bodies,realize that the whole setup is "flexible"...
                      Oglesby,Il.

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                      • #12
                        Most are comparing the big, heavy FULL SIZE cars when they really were 'full size'. Now if you enter a Studebaker against early Corvairs and Falcons, I bet it would more than hold its own in a demo derby.

                        Craig

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                        • #13
                          if i was going to present a vehicle in a demo-derby, i'd be looking for a old Volvo.

                          don't forget that most of the older (including Studebaker) cars might put the steering wheel/column thru our upper body on a bad frontal collision.
                          Kerry. SDC Member #A012596W. ENCSDC member.

                          '51 Champion Business Coupe - (Tom's Car). Purchased 11/2012.

                          '40 Champion. sold 10/11. '63 Avanti R-1384. sold 12/10.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 8E45E View Post
                            Most are comparing the big, heavy FULL SIZE cars when they really were 'full size'. Now if you enter a Studebaker against early Corvairs and Falcons, I bet it would more than hold its own in a demo derby.
                            Studebakers were all body on frame construction, while Ford Falcons were unit-bodied with a stub frame that the engine/trans bolted to.

                            I suspect that Corvairs were also unit-bodied, but have rear engines.

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                            • #15
                              I attended a derby back in the mid seventies and a 1958 Silver Hawk didn't last very long.
                              Gary Sanders
                              Nixa, MO

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