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  • Frame / Springs: Truck chassis swap?

    I want to modernize an R series truck with better ride, steering and air conditioning. Would it be better to put the body on a newer truck frame and drive-train or modify the truck I have?

    Anyone with experience on this. Help!

    You opinion is greatly valued

    Thanks,

    Don

  • #2
    I owned two 1959s that were half way between what you ask. They both had a GM subframe in front and the matching rear axle. This gave a more modern front suspension/ride, power disc brakes, power steering, larger V8 (350/400), AT, A/C. These were restomods in that the pickups looked basically stock, but drove like a long wheelbase Camaro/Firebird.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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    • #3
      Since it is your money, my easy suggestion would be to research, study, and find a truck with a conventional frame that has acceptable measurements, (or close enough that modifications are realistic), similar weight (or lighter), and adapt the Studebaker cab and bed to it. That way, you get the complete underpinnings and drive train to have the best chances of having it to perform as it was originally designed.

      If you were to launch such a build, I would follow it with intense curiosity and interest!
      John Clary
      Greer, SC

      SDC member since 1975

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      • #4
        A google search will turn up a number of options but most center around either an S-10 or Dodge Dakota frame swap. A friend did a Stude pickup with an S-10 frame and 455 Buick drive train. It was great but he did say he might use a Dakota frame next time as the front track is a bit wider. However, the S-10 frame is perfect for changing wheelbase.

        It stopped, rode, drove and ran like a much newer pickup with all the upgrades of a new truck.

        Looked like this.

        Click image for larger version  Name:	789ffa26864c58a8f139125848180765.jpg Views:	0 Size:	28.3 KB ID:	1847583

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        • #5
          Yes, thanks. What year Dakota is recommended?

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          • #6
            Years ago, a friend installed a 1953 Studebaker 1/2 ton pickup body and bed onto a 1973 Jeep Wagoneer chassis, drivetrain and all. So, he had an AMC 360 engine and 4WD. The rear fenders had to be moved. The Virginia state police in 1993 inspected the vehicle and titled it as a "1993 Studebaker pickup." (Disclaimer: This is from memory, which is sometimes faulty and subject to revision. If I learn anything different/more I'll revise this.)

            -Dwight

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
              Years ago, a friend installed a 1953 Studebaker 1/2 ton pickup body and bed onto a 1973 Jeep Wagoneer chassis, drivetrain and all. So, he had an AMC 360 engine and 4WD.

              -Dwight
              So, by now, that would be a 47 year old 360 (AMC) engine...wonder how many timing gears & chains he's had to replace by now?
              John Clary
              Greer, SC

              SDC member since 1975

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              • #8
                Don: I recommend a late 80’s Dakota. They have everything. (Rack and pinion steer, disc brakes, nice front suspension) these dakotas never came with a v8 but it’s not hard to mount a mopar v8 in. I moved the engine and tranny back 5 or 6”. Cant remember exactly. The main reason I say late 80’s is that it will give you a 5 lug bolt pattern. Anything newer will be 6 lug. Standard cab short bed dakotas are perfect wheelbase for studebaker r-series trucks.

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                • #9
                  The Toyota pick ups of the mid 80's till the mid 90's were 103 to 123.5" WB. Torsion bar front suspension, narrow and light. You can find cheap running for less than $1,000 with air and all. 5 on 4 1/2" like Stude pass. cars.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the information.

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                    • #11
                      Dodge did offer Dakota's with V8's in a first series truck in 1989. But the side of the truck said 'Shelby' on it. I only mention this to show it can be done without a lot of grief.
                      Tom - Bradenton, FL

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

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                      • #12
                        Ford Aerostar suspension blots easily onto the existing frame.
                        Bez Auto Alchemy
                        573-318-8948
                        http://bezautoalchemy.com


                        "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

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                        • #13
                          Thanks, didn't know this place!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bezhawk View Post
                            Ford Aerostar suspension blots easily onto the existing frame.
                            Bolts on to the frame?
                            Charles

                            1961 Lark Regal VIII 259/auto -- Lucy

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by what huh View Post

                              Bolts on to the frame?
                              Again to credit Bob Johnstone's site for a massive accumulation of Stude/Avanti knowledge. Here's his Aerostar conversion page.

                              https://studebaker-info.org/Tech/Fra.../aerosusp.html

                              Bob

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