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185 Hot-rodding

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  • 185 Hot-rodding

    A few questions here:

    Whats the most one can practically bore out the 185 flathead block? .060? .080? .090? I remember a few years back Ted Harbit had a couple sets of .125 over pistons....but I really wonder if there enough block there to bore it out that much... Somehow I'd like to get it to around 200ci

    Also, whats required to put a 185 in a 54 champion? I know the mounts are different, anything else?


  • #2
    Kent; I cannot remember all the tricks we had to do at the dealer to those 6's to swap different year blocks around, but there are a lot of small changes over the years. The one I remember the most is the rear plate on the block changed also oil pan on some years, and of course the afformentioned engine mount brackets & mounts. The best way to be sure is compare the part numbers of all the engine attachments in the chassis catalog from '54 to '55. I never payed much attention to 6's because I only like the 289 V-8's.

    Studebakers Northwest
    Ferndale, WA
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner


    • #3
      A 185 in a '54 - 185 hop-up? - these guys probably could answer a few questions for ya!

      Miscreant adrift in
      the BerStuda Triangle

      1957 Transtar 1/2ton
      1960 Larkvertible V8
      1958 Provincial wagon
      1953 Commander coupe

      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


      • #4
        If you already have the '54, you will have very little to do to make a change with the '55 engine, I just finished rebuilding one of each and found very little difference. You will of course need the '54 front mounts.

        Do you now have a 185 engine...?

        Buddy...'54 Champion 2dr
        Warner Robins, GA 31088


        • #5
          If you will be running a 3 spd. trans, and unless this engine is for a truck or you have a taxi cab bellhousing, remember that you are tied to the liteweight T-96 transmission; too much power is not a good thing for a T-96. A friend has had a '54 Champion sedan with an OHV 185, and a T-96 for a long time. He has a heavy foot, and at the beginning he ran a 2 bbl. carb and blew a couple of T-96's. Eventually changed back to a one bbl. carb, and no more problems.


          • #6
            Greetings, All,

            It is well known I am no fan of the Champion six. This goes back to my first Studebaker, a 1956 Flight Hawk. It should have been called a Wimp Hawk. As a 16-year old, my first modification was a floor shift conversion. I ran that buzzing little anvil as hard as it would go. It saw 5000 rpm speed shifts many times over the three years I owned it. The T-96 never gave one bit of trouble. I even moved the OD kickdown to the floorboard and drove it as a six-speed with no problems.

            Put some people in a sandbox with a cannon ball and they'll break it with their bare hands, so it's possible. However, one would have to abuse a T-96 beyond all reason to break it behind a Champion six.

            thnx, jv.



            • #7

              Take a look at Bill Cathcart's site:


              He's the expert on the 169 / 185. I bought one of his "hot" 185's back in '02. It is .060" over (now about 191 ci) and about 145 hp. My '50 Champ Starlight Coupe really goes well with this engine. I live in the midwest with minimal hills so I don't need 4.56 gears so I put in 3.73s and it still goes well but can now cruise at 75-80 quite well. Bill doesn't just sell his rebuit engines, he also sells other parts and gives pointers on working the 169 / 185. Good Luck.


              * 1950 Champion Starlight Coupe (Cathcart Stg 4 Engine)
              * 1971 Avanti II (RQB-1659).