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1963 Champ Conversion

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  • 1963 Champ Conversion

    I am no longer able to drive my manual transmissioned Champ because of an accident I have a couple of years ago. My plans are to convert to a 700R4 automatic using one of the several adapter plates now available. That is not a problem, I think. However, since I will have to convert to an automatic steering column for the shift lever, I figure should convert to a power steering unit. While I understand that perhaps a Hawk GT power steering set up will work with a few adjustments, I am curious as to the possibility of using a Saginaw power steering gear box from an approximate 1983 Chevrolet full size van. When installed in the truck, the pitman arm will turn in the correct fashion. My question is whether anyone has done this type of conversion and whether there are any adapter plates made to do the conversion, or will I be on my own in engineering the adapter plate?

    Further, I would like to get the best fuel mileage available on this pickup. I have a 259 cid engine. I believe the rear end is a 4.09. Connecting everything will eventually be the 700R4 transmission already indicated. What would be a better rear end ratio and could this be accomplished by replacing the ring gear?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    Personally I think the ram style power steering might be easiest to adapt, but YMMV. Also I wouldn't mess with a 4.09:1 rear, that's just about spot on perfect for highway cruising in OD. With a .7:1 OD that's effectively a 2.86:1 or to put it another way that's about 2350 RPM with a 31" tire at 75 MPH (I dunno what tire sizes you're running...) certainly wouldn't want any more relaxed unless you're running at Bonneville or something and with the deeper first gear of the 700R4 you probably don't need it any higher numerically for acceleration.

    55 Commander Starlight


    • #3
      Several people have adapted the Saginaws from Gm intermediate bodied cars to earlier trucks but none have to my knowledge converted the 8E steering system. If you know of a steering box that will work the steering system let us know.

      Biggest problem is finding a box that will mount in the correct orientation and swing the system like the stock box.

      Since the stock 8E box is bolted to a adapter plate shouldnt be too hard to figure one out for a PS box.


      • #4
        Thanks for the information. Using the ram type steering would probably be more straight forward... finding one is the problem!! Thus my thoughts on the Saginaw. I think I will get one at the salvage yard and see what happens. I will report my findings when complete. But if anyone happens along that has done such a conversion, let me know.
        Laisez le bon temps roulez avec un Studebaker


        • #5
          here's a link describing adding powersteering to a '63 or '64 Champ

          steve blake
          steve blake...roaming the Texas Panhandle in my trusty Champ pickup


          • #6
            I am building a 4x4 rock crawler brand 'X' and have a website that 'splains about switching a forward to back rotation to a side to side rotation for putting on a crossover steering setup to eliminate bumpsteer.

            The parts swap include a GM 2wd p/s box where the 4wd box was (bolt on installation) but changing the arm to a Ford or Jeep arm (so it's clocked in the right position and clears the frame rail).

            There are a lot of offroaders out there that regularly modify their steering to fit their needs or the needs of the trail. This may be an untapped resource for those of us updating/upgrading our Studebaker cars and trucks with non-stock parts

            Maybe these websites can help you in your fabrication adventure and provide some more ideas to make it all work. Here ya go...


            And down a bit on this page (about 3/4 of the way down)...


            is a re-located p/s box thats angled between the frame rails in front of the front crossmember. Sorry I couldn't give you just the pics, but there is a good explanation along with the pics...

            Myself, I am going to use a rack and pinion on my Conestoga with a tilt and telescope column from a Cadillac (also t&t front wd w/ rack and pinion) and ditch the bellcrank and associated tierods, etc. Have you checked to see if you could use a R&P steering setup? Hope some of this helps someone...

            Wheels down, shiney side up, drive it like you stole it!