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1953 studebaker commander

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  • 1953 studebaker commander

    Hello i have a 1953 studebaker commander, it has the original v8 and trans in it. i was wondering if there was anything i could do to spice it up performance wise? its not a bad driver but it sucks when it comes to hills, i was told the tranny dont have a kick down gear and it pretty much runs out of power when climbing. any suggestions on ways to make better? also i was told you can drop a chevy 350 and 350 trans right into it with no mods is that correct? any help is appreciated

  • #2
    No you can't quite do a GM swap with NO mods, maybe minor mods is a more accurate statement. New special front and rear Engine Mount BRACKETS and Engine Mounts, Radiator issues, throttle and Trans. Linkage issues etc. and more are required. Not a bolt-in like a larger Stude. Engine would be.

    Many or most of us here would rather just do a more direct swap of a 259 or 289 Stude. and a '56 to '64 Stude. Borg Warner Flight-O-Matic Trans.

    Your Studebaker Automatic Drive/Detroit Gear DG200 trans. needs it's throttle Pressure adjusted if it does not kick-down, but you can select "L" at a little over 30 MPH to manually downshift to 2 nd. gear to get going.
    The method I prefer is to start in "L" (Low) while holding considerable throttle, shift to "D" and immediately back to "L" to hold second, then at a good speed just go back to "D" for 3rd. a very simple process after you try it once.
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner
    SDC Member Since 1967


    • #3
      Justin, WELCOME TO THE FORUM !
      My 232 V-8 with the automatic has no problem dropping in to gear when throttled.
      I agree you may need to do some adjusting.
      If you can, why not visit the Studebaker York Swap Meet March 6-7-8, 2014 at the York County Fairgrounds. You may not need any parts but there will be a few hundred people there with first hand expertise in Studebaker maintenance.
      Brad Johnson,
      SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
      Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
      '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight. '53 Commander Starlight
      '56 Sky Hawk in process


      • #4
        Just curious; Starlight, Starliner or sedan?


        • #5
          Have you had this car awhile? I remember being in that area a few years ago and spotting a yellow one at a stop light.


          • #6
            While the Chevy swap has been done a coupla thousand times, it's not a drop in.
            As noted, the correct front motor mounts, (available), a new trans. mount, needs to be fabricated, the exhaust system, drive shaft, throttle (the radiator should be fine as is), maybe a little wire harness fabrication.

            It's not that difficult a swap, but it's also not a weekend job.

            Also at this point, rather than using the T-350 trans., you might think about an overdrive trans. The T200-4R makes a great setup (better thAn the T-700-R4 in my opinion).



            • #7
              thank you very much for the info, i will try that process and see how it works out. greatly appreciated


              • #8
                i will definitly attend the york county swap meet, york is only an hour and a half from me. mine is actually a commander deluxe 4 door. i have only had the car about a 7 months Click image for larger version

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                • #9
                  If that's your car in the post #8, it's a '52 not a '53. Might have been titled originally in '53.


                  • #10
                    52 all the way!
                    For what it is worth.......if you plan to change the motor in THAT car! Go to a SB Chev with a 200R as suggested previously. You will have to modify the firewall.
                    It is less expensive than the Studebaker motor & trans rebuild and will fit with your current theme and use.
                    Good Roads
                    Brian Woods
                    1946 M Series (Shop Truck)