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How High are You?

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  • Frame / Springs: How High are You?

    I just bought a 56 Powerhawk 10 days ago. It was in the seller's family for 3 generations. Gramps and Dad were gear heads, son not so much, so he knows little about it. It appears to be jacked up a bit. I would like to put it back to stock height. Can any of you confirm that it is 'high'? If so, can you tell me how it was done and maybe how to get it back?
    Here are some numbers: The trunk latch center is 30" above the ground. The drivers door sill is 14" high. The rear shackle is 3.5" from center to center of pins. The upper shackle pin is 20" above the ground. The bottom edge of front grill is 18.5" up. Also, front tires are 205/75/15, rears are 235/70/15.

    I plan to go to TorqThrust 2s, 215/60/15 on 7" wide wheels in front. 235/60/16 on 8" wheels in back. I figure since Studebaker named its trim levels 'Commander' and 'President', I'd better put on 'General' tires. Looking at their Altimax RT43, top rated on TireRack and with TorqThrust 2s, will save me over 10 lbs per wheel.
    You might notice that it has a rear sway bar and huge front one. It goes around corners. Three on the floor w/ OD.

    This is the worst condition car I have ever owned... and the most fun to drive! And the attention it gets: Homeless people lean out in street to give me thumbs up, same with pick up drivers and Harley riders. It starts a conversation almost everywhere I park. Gals ask me for rides. People think its an old Jaguar, Mercedes, T'Bird. I had to pop the hood and show a guy the motor to convince him it wasn't a Carmen Gia. The gal at the DMV had never heard of Studebaker. OK, some admirers are idiots.
    Last edited by Rafe Hollister; 04-10-2021, 07:05 PM.

  • #2
    Your spring shackles and stuff look right to me, but the rear does look high. Perhaps the springs have been replaced, or re-arched? It could just be the huge truck tires on the back. From what you've said they're the same size my F100 came with.


    • #3
      Thanks, Bensherb. My Chevy cargo van has 235/75... barely bigger. The front 205/75 are 27", about the same as the stock bias I've been told. The rear tires are 27.75" in diameter. So even tho they look big, they would only raise the rear 3/8". A mechanic buddy said since the axel is above the springs, I can put a spacer between the leaf springs and the axle.
      Can anyone get me measurements from their car so I can confirm my suspicions?


      • #4
        Without going out and looking at a 'stock' leaf pack, it looks like an additional leaf has been added to your rear springs right under the main leaf.

        Personally, the stance looks pretty good to me (a little high in the back maybe), and the stiffer springs most likely are helping the handling too (along with the sway bars front and rear). The car looks mean and aggressive with that stance, and is probably contributing to the thumbs up you get.

        One suggestion might be a set of 1" lowering blocks in the back - get it down some, but not too much to ruin the stance.
        Winston-Salem, NC
        Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at:


        • #5
          Afraid i am with Dad and Gramp's, wash that bad boy and put a few thousand miles on it. work on the interior stuff but keep it on the streets! it was obviously built for fun and i see nothing wrong with the stance at all! Luck Doofus


          • #6
            The second leaf is added. Notice the end is not chamfered like the others.


            • #7
              The extra leaf might have been added to improve handling. On the advice of an engineer and a top-notch mechanic in our Chapter. I had an extra leaf added to the rear springs on my 1947 Champion many years ago. This raised the rear end 1.5 inches (to its original height), very greatly improved the car's handling, and noticeably reduced FRONT tire wear.
              Bill Jarvis


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ross View Post
                The second leaf is added. Notice the end is not chamfered like the others.
                It looks like it had a leaf added much like I did on my 52. Mine handles well.
                I think the stance yours has now looks aggressive and I would keep it as is if the tires don't rub.
                "In the heart of Arkansas."
                Searcy, Arkansas
                1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                1952 2R pickup


                • #9
                  To me, it appears that leaf was added to the rear springs, probably so that the large (wider) tires would clear the rear fenders. On my small screen, it looks like there is a spacer block in the front spring. I suggest going with tires close to original size and bring the springing back to stock.

                  EDIT: Hard for me to imagine that this is the worst condition car that you ever owned. Around here, five year old Studebakers looked worse than that.
                  Gary L.
                  Wappinger, NY

                  SDC member since 1968
                  Studebaker enthusiast much longer


                  • #10
                    I am sure there are leaf spring specs out there for all the Studebaker models. Locally there is a spring manufacturer that has been in business for 115 years and they made my springs for my 54 and they fit perfect. They have access to the original specs and that is what they used for mine. Therefore the original specs are out there some where. I have contacted this company and have requested a copy of the original specs for my archive file.


                    • #11
                      OK, seems like we got to the bottom of it with those springs. I will check front springs for spacer. I like the stance, but I like the stock stance too. So not sure what I will do. But will definitely lower it to test tire rubbing before I invest a grand on new wheels and tires.
                      As far as its condition, no back seat, vent and side glass broken, no windows work, front seat terrible (may be picking up '04 Toyota Sienna power seats for it today), bumpers bent, trunk lid miss aligned, door locks don't work, all emblems removed, shock mount bushings loose, rattles and creaks, have to rev it to 3,000 to get alternator to work, etc... but all the stuff that makes it fun is there! I may be selling my 56 Commander Sedan on Tuesday, perhaps it has spoiled me, 35,000 miles, like new interior, etc....
                      But I would still appreciate if someone could do similar measurements as I did so I can tell what stock ride height was.


                      • #12
                        Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I had seen that the stock distribution of front to rear weight on a 56 V8 Hawk ( not Golden Hawk) was 57 percent to 43 percent. The other cars listed in this post are different as a 47 Champion and a 52 have different suspension, wheelbase, and balance. The heavy V8 with the rear end raised would increase the weight on the front end. I don't see how that would improve handling.

                        That said, in my opinion, the 52 Commander is a better balanced car, overall easy steering, great ride quality and cruising in overdrive. Now as far as looks, if I could take the ride/handing characteristics of the 52 but have the looks of the 56.....

                        Thom, just drive it, enjoy it and do little things at a time. I like both your 56's. I have a 56 President Classic with overdrive. My 62 Lark also drives well with the improvements made with the steering gear box and other things. Just drive the heck out of your car and get to know it then fix as you go. Don't make the mistake many make with whatever brand they have and feel they have to tear everything apart.

                        Be a Sensible Acting Studebaker Owner (SASO).

                        Bob Miles


                        • #13
                          Anyone with a hawk want to help me with some measurements? I'm curious how much my car is lifted. The trunk latch and front grill will sufice. Thanks.
                          Here are my measurements: The trunk latch center is 30" above the ground. The drivers door sill is 14" high. The rear shackle is 3.5" from center to center of pins. The upper shackle pin is 20" above the ground. The bottom edge of front grill is 18.5" up.


                          • #14
                            Ok, my shackle is 3.5" center to center, my trunk key (with trunk closed) is at 32 " off the ground, the bottom of my grill is at 18.5" from the ground. Upper shackle bolt is 16.5" from ground to center and my door sill is at 13" from ground at rear of door opening. The bottom edge of my rocker is 2.75" higher at the rear wheel opening than at the front, ( 2.75" rake).

                            Now! My car is a '62 GT, I did not like the tail dragging stance it had when I got it (its fine on a standard Hawk ,but not a GT). So, when I fixed the poorly engineered shackle bushings I also added 1" to the shackles, the original ones were shorter and much flimsier. I originally put Ford 6.5" x15" wheels with 215-70-15 tires on it, they fit PERFECT! I now have Ford 7.5" x 17" wheels with 235-55-17 tires, they fit well but did take a bit of tweeking to get clearences right.

                            This is with the 15" wheels and 215-70-15 tires, on all four.
                            Click image for larger version  Name:	20160510_104840 avatar 2 .jpg Views:	0 Size:	146.7 KB ID:	1890210
                            This is with the 17" wheels and 235 -55-17 tires.
                            Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_1058 crop.jpg Views:	0 Size:	121.9 KB ID:	1890211


                            • #15
                              Thanks Bensherb, this is what I wanted to know. My front height is the same as yours. My rear is, by upper shackle bolt is 4" higher. I just checked out pictures, my trunk key is in the middle of the trunk 'grill', the GT is near the top. Very nice wheels! What are they? And where did you get the studebaker center logos?
                              I hated my bench seats, gives me lower back ache. So I'm installing a 2002 Toyota Sienna power bucket seat, I'll do a write up when all done.