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New Member 51 Champion Regal Business Coupe

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  • New Member 51 Champion Regal Business Coupe

    New Member 51 Champion Regal Business Coupe. 1st Studebaker and first experience with 6 volt system

    Just wanna say thanks to all the Forum members for posting such great information on every topic one can think of!!!! I found this 51 Business Coupe being sold outside of a barn in S.E. Michigan. Body appeared to be rust free, interior needed a good cleaning and driver seat back resewn. The owner replaced the gas tank, fuel line, master cylinder, front shoes, wheel cylinders and starter. I googled and found the SDC, called Member Bob Palma of Hope, Indiana and ask a bajillion questions.
    After talking to Bob, my plan went from a "build a gasser" project to keep it original when He told me there were only 373 Regal Business Coupes made in 51. Brought the car home on April 7th and have been under the hood nearly every day.
    All the parts are there, most original. I've ordered several parts from Studebaker International and in between waiting for parts I've stripped the engine and painted it Detroit Diesel green and started restoring engine parts as I reassembly it.
    I couldn't have done any of the work so far with the information I've Garnered of this forum and the photos posted by you guys. I'll post more pics of progress.

    Jerry Seal, Livonia, MI

  • #2
    What a great car to begin with!
    As Mr Palma is so found of saying, "COOL BEANS!"
    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


    • #3
      Welcome to the forum.

      That is a cool car. I am glad Bob talked you out of butchering it.

      Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you must improvise, jury rig everything you do. It's not common knowledge, but almost ALL of the parts you will ever need to keep it running are available - and at reasonable prices. The Studebaker drivers club organized before the company went out of business and there are several major parts vendors out there and many many more small parts vendors.

      The correct army green bell telephone truck green engine paint is available from most of the vendors.

      All of the parts books have been reprinted as well and they are invaluable in that they show all the parts, how/where they fit, what their "official" name is and the part number. All the parts dealers use these part numbers in their inventory systems.

      The first thing most new members want to do is redesign the car to make it better. That's OK if one is an experienced hot rod builder, but most newbies who are unfamiliar with Studebakers are not experienced hot rod builders.

      For some reason the prevailing "wisdom" is that every other brand of car makes better parts/systems and also every other part/system will fit on a Studebaker. Where did that come from? Maybe because Studebaker has always been an underdog in the eyes of the great unwashed masses.

      Basically, Studebakers are well designed and they merely need to be brought back to specifications to be good handling, driving, reliable cars. There are certain tried and proven mods, like disk brakes and sway bars that actually do improve the car, but many one-off, shade tree mods only make the car different, difficult to fix, and difficult to sell.

      Here's my best advice, for what it's worth.
      -Don't rush into taking it apart
      -figure out what you have, what its strong points and weak points are and go from there
      -get it stopping and running and then figure out what needs to be done to it while you are enjoying it
      -Don't rush into taking it apart. It is at least 100 times more difficult to put it together than it was to take it apart.

      Many, many cars get taken apart by someone who is fresh into the hobby, full of enthusiasm, and yielding to popular "wisdom." But the majority of cars that get this treatment never go back together again. They sit around in pieces after the enthusiasm gets replaced by reality. The wife and family get disgusted with the pile of rusty iron sitting around, the car gets sold as a parts car, and another potentially nice old car bites the dust.

      I have given this advice many, many times over many years. I know of what I speak. Feel free to ignore it as many have.

      RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

      10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
      4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
      5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon


      • #4
        You have a beautiful automobile. As said above, keeping it stock is not so hard. Frustrating at times, yes; but worth it. I have owned my 53 Commander Coupe since 1977 and it remains almost completely stock. Parts and technical information are readily available. So welcome to the world of Studebaker. And please keep us posted on your progress.
        Studebaker! If you're lucky enough to own one, you're lucky enough!!!


        • #5
          Thanks for the sound advise Roy!!! I'm keeping it pure stock on Bob Palma's advise, and all the parts are there. So far it's been an easy car to work on, I love keeping the Metric wrenches in the toolbox. The engine appears to be a replacement as the boss only has 3 letters stamped in an odd positioning. Engine insides are very clean, oil and water jacket. Freeze plugs look new, so I think it is very low miles after rebuild in 1991, just a lot of dust and surface rust. I read on one post that Detroit Diesel was a close match, but it looks much lighter than pics I saw. Hate to strip everything off again and repaint.
          You must be the one I'll have to send my radio to when that time comes?
          Some before and afters:


          • #6
            Looks like a good start on a great car!
            Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.


            • #7
              It's good you are detailing the engine before you start driving it. Once you get it on the road you are not gonna want to take time out for such things! Thanks for not making it a gasser. It is one of the rarest of the rare. The 51 and later suspension will serve you well, and the brakes are on par with the lil six motor. Just don't try to drive on the interstate with the big dogs, or you will kill it. It is an excellent car for other roads though, and you will get tired of all the thumbs up and AOK signs, everywhere you go. Enjoy!


              • #8
                Here is your correct NOT Turquoise, Olive Green Engine Color.

                Click image for larger version  Name:	48 LC GreenC.jpg Views:	1 Size:	118.4 KB ID:	1835498 Here is some on a '50 Land Cruiser "245" Commander Six.
                The "Military Green"; "Bell Telephone Green", "Packard Green" was used from '47 to '54 on the complete Power Train of ALL Studebaker Cars and Trucks.
                Always makes me wonder if it was left over 6X6 World War II Truck Body Enamel.
                Second Generation Stude Driver,
                Proud '54 Starliner Owner
                SDC Member Since 1967


                • #9
                  Thanks Rich!! That's a well done engine compartment!!! I saw on another thread that Detroit Diesel was a close match, obviously it isn't. If I don't take everything back off now and repaint it, I never will. It's not a show car but I'm looking for originality. Do you know a good source for that color??


                  • #10

                    Be aware that your six volt car is wired positive ground. It may seem odd to someone who has never seen a six volt system, but roughly half of the six volt car companies grounded the positive side of the battery and the other half grounded the negative side - and each thought theirs was better.

                    It's possible that the thread you saw about engine color was talking about the 56-57 engines that Studebaker painted turquoise. While Detroit Diesel isn't that same as that either, the two are closer than they are to the correct dark green for your car.

                    All the Studebaker vendors will have it in spray bombs or in liquid.

                    They also have the chassis parts catalog and the body parts catalog. I urge you to buy them and take a look. We are very fortunate to have some of the best parts documentation of any marque.

                    Last edited by RadioRoy; 05-13-2020, 05:27 PM.
                    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                    10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                    4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                    5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon


                    • #11
                      Thanks Guys!!! I received my 1st "Turning Wheels" yesterday, (March), and was shocked at all of the available vendors. I didn't find the paint on SI, I'll give them a call, as I have been using them for parts so far. I think the turquoise will make a good "primer coat". ( :
                      I've been reading all the threads about Grounding these 6 volt systems and it is backwards to a former muscle car guy, but this forum is a wealth of knowledge. I found one Flat ground strap (5" long) on the right front frame that appeared to go to the timing gear cover, it was greasy crud and not connected. I cleaned it and the frame, and had to double nut it at the timing cover because of the lip on the front of the housing, the motor mount blocked removing the bolt. My thermostat just came from SI after 6 days in the postal system for 140 mile trip, normally 2 days. Probably a godsend or I would have tried my restart with a turquoise engine and left that way.

                      Joe Hall kinda warned of Freeway Speed, this car seems to have a pretty aggressive gear ratio, maybe 3.73 to 4.11, with overdrive what do you guys suggest is a safe rpm for 170ci cruising. Is 60 mph safe in right lane?? Thanks for all your advise


                      • #12
                        If the car has overdrive, it most likely has a 4:56 ratio rear axle. If the overdrive is non-functioning, you should be topping out around 45 MPH MAX. I wouldn't drive at that speed or you will burn that nice little engine to a crisp.

                        Do not let the mysteries of overdrive baffle you. It is merely a two speed step up gear built into the rear of the transmission that is electrically operated. It cuts the engine speed by 2/3 for the same road speed.

                        Overdrive is one of the most significant pluses of that car, driving-wise. Make sure you know how to work it, make sure it works, and make sure you use it.

                        Instructions for driving with overdrive are in the owners manual that always sits in the glove box. The major Studebaker vendors have reprinted this booklet. Reading that might be more clear than the suggestions that a lot of folks might make - especially the folks that don't get it.

                        With the overdrive operational, you should be good for 65 on a flat road without stressing the engine.

                        For some reason, many folks cannot wrap their heads around how it works, what it does, and why they should use it, even though we have had lots of discussions about it. You can search on "overdrive" in this forum and get lots of threads. It boils down to two things: the guys who love to use it and the guys who just cannot grasp the concept.

                        Don't be one of those guys.
                        Last edited by RadioRoy; 05-14-2020, 09:29 AM.
                        RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                        10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                        4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                        5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon


                        • #13
                          I've said this many times before, but my 52 Champion with a 4:56 rear end and overdrive had no trouble driving 70 MPH all day. The only problem I ever had on trips was climbing long hills without losing too much speed.
                          "In the heart of Arkansas."
                          Searcy, Arkansas
                          1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                          1952 2R pickup


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                            The "Military Green"; "Bell Telephone Green", "Packard Green" was used from '47 to '54 on the complete Power Train of ALL Studebaker Cars and Trucks.
                            IIRC, I think Studebaker was using that green back in the 20s...

                            Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                            Always makes me wonder if it was left over 6X6 World War II Truck Body Enamel.
                            That is the story I heard as to why all the parts boxes were that green color...

                            Here is the "how to" operate the overdrive from a Studebaker operators guide.

                            Great looking car - they were the "internet shopping" of their day - bring the product to the customer...


                            • #15
                              Thanks Guys!! 4.56 gear!! I new it was a high ratio from driving it in the neighborhood when I first got it started, to me a 4.56 gear is for drag racing. What speed can you engage overdrive after shifting into 3rd?? I found out that this car forces you to come to a complete stop at stop signs, no syncro to 1st gear.
                              Also, I ordered my Green engine paint from SI and that will give me time to tear everything back off of the engine and detail more parts. I'm trying rattle cans this time because of limited space, even with a mini gun.