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55coupe eng shuffle.

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  • 55coupe eng shuffle.

    can anyone tell me if the 352 packard eng used in the 56 hawk will bolt in to the 55 coupe. is the later 374 packard the same eng, bored out?

    any address for makers of the studillac frame adapters for big block caddy???


  • #2
    Cannon, I think you could probably get the Packard engine to fit, and yes, the 374 is the same block, but the frame of the 1955 would be questionable. If this is a coupe (C body), it probably came from the factory as 6 cylinder champion. Those models had a lighter frame. The "flexi-flyers" are marginal at best with a V8. You would be better off looking for a GT Hawk frame (interchanges perfectly), or one of the new repro frames that were designed for the heavier engines. Or, you might consider a lighter engine, maybe something like a supercharged Buick V6. If you want a really cool repro rod, you might consider just hopping up the champion with cam, dual exhaust, and aluminum heads. The SBC belly button is well tested, but really oh-hum for most people these days.
    I don't know about the Cadillac adapters, but Hurst built a universal adapter for the big block GMC that might work. Look on eBay, they come up pretty often. Use the same caution you would use with the Packard in that frame.
    Good luck!


    • #3
      I don't know about hood clearance on this swap. I've never heard of this swap being done but I'm sure someone's done it thru the years if it could be pulled off.[^]
      Whacker's off with his assumption that a '55 C-body car would likely have come with a 6. WAY more V8 Coupes were built in 55 than 6-cylinders! To have a good idea of whether or not your coupe started life as a V8, look at the body tag that's near the R/H hood hinge. If the tag starts out 16G8 or 6H, the car started life as a V8. If it says 16G6, it started out as a 6.
      While it's true that 6-cylinder cars started life with a lighter gage frame and 8-powered editions, both models have a weak point that seems to be showing itself as the years roll on. One is where there's a big rivet where the back edge of the front crossmember meets the frame rails. Cracks are showing up there. It's probably a good preventive measure to look at any C-K frame these days to see if there's evidence of such. Thankfully, it's not too common. BTW, there's templates available to make patches for this wound. It takes getting some metal cut and enlisting a good welder to install them. It can be done without any disassembly of the car.
      The other place these frames are showing some stress is on the top of the spring pocket, where the upper A-arm attaches with two bolts. Even the factory must've been aware of this soft spot as they made patch pieces to be welded in for strengthening. Remember - this was well before the days of "recalls". The general feeling is that only the heavier cars should have to worry about these weaknesses and the spring tower problem can be exacerbated by the upper A-arm bolts not being tightened properly when those parts are serviced.
      A '64 Hawk frame would be a bit better - if you could find one that wasn't rusted out - but the parts book shows the same frame used for the 55 V8 cars as was used for the 56 Golden Hawk.

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


      • #4
        thanks for all the info. especially about the frame. one contact on the net told me he had mounted a one piece front on his 53, and the frame flexed so much, he couldn;t keep the pieces aligned. my project is in inside storage for years. don.t know yet if 6 or 8. had a 53 with plans in the past, but came home from a long trip {merchant seaman} and discovered it had been totaled by the neighborhood kids.. have done swaps before where i fabricated all the mounts but was hoping for a kit if i went for the studillac. if this is an 8 i will probably try the packad. if not i just may try a Ford inline 300 six. Clifford makes all the goodies in the world for this engine, and as a former light company fleet mech. i appreciate a setup with room to work on your underhood problems. tks to all



        • #5
          If it's a 6, or if you wanted to stay with a 6, Cathcart Studebaker makes an array of items to hop up the Stude flathead 6 engine. There's LOTS of those Stude 170s around to work with. And too, that Stude V8 is one HELL of an engine and still setting track records to this very day! LOTSO parts around to build them as well and lots more performance goodies on the horizon for them! I say keep it ALL Stude if possible. Besides, with all Stude stuff - everything's "bolt-in" as opposed to reengineering to suit something that isn't native to that engine compartment!

          I forgot to add that a coupe with a Stude flathead in it just set a record at Bonneville. about 117MPH or so if I remember right. This was with a turbo on it and this was the team's first try too! They're gonna go back with improvements next year. Here's their website:

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


          • #6
            Mr. Biggs- are you implying that the '64 Hawk frame is stiffer? Stiffer than the '62 & '63 GT frames? I bought a '63 once and the doors wouldn't quite close. After unsuccessfully attempting to adjust the doors I discovered that it had frame sag. I've been traumitized ever since. And as far as that Packard engine goes, I'd strongly recommend dumping it. I know a guy who has a '56 Golden Hawk and he has been fighting that Packard engine for thirty years. Most recently he put a nice new paint job on it and the vibration and frame torque actually made the paint peel off right at the back of the front fenders. I don't know why anybody would fight that heavy, obsolete engine when they could drop a nice, light(relatively) 289 in there with no modification.


            • #7
              Your experience is contrary to what I've heard over time. That Packard engine's only weakness was in the oil pump and a fix is available to address that weakness. N8N can tell us more about that as he has one of the beasts. And I must say, I'm baffled that vibration and torque could pop paint off the fenders! There's too many nice, original 56Js (code for 56 Golden Hawk) around to dispell that.
              In fact, just yesterday I was relaxing in the ahh... "reading room" while reviewing an article in the Feb 24th edition of Old Cars Weekly. This is written by the premier authority of 56 GHs, Frank Ambrogio (has a website: > ) where he dispells the notion that the Packard motor was an overload in the Hawk.
              While the PAckard engine (w/o flywheel) weighs 690lbs, the Stude V8 w/o flywheel weighs in at 645. NOW - take into consideration that the McCullough blower weighs an extra 40lbs and you have engines within 5lbs of one another!
              Further, Frank weighed his 1956 Golden Hawks and with a full tank of gas it weighed in at 3,760 for one with the Packard Ultramatic and 3,780lbs for a manual trans model. For COMPARISON, Frank had a 1957 Golden Hawk (superchrged 289 Stude V8 Flight-o-matic tranny) weighed with a full tank of gas and it weighed in at 3,750lbs. As you can see - 30lbs difference, max. Only 10lbs difference between auto-trannied versions!
              Even the weight distribution - front to rear -56 vs 57 - was within ONE percent difference!
              You really need to read the whole article. I ain't gonna redo it all here. But look at Frank's website. To just dismiss that Packard engine with folk lore is not fair to it or the many 56J lovers out there.

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


              • #8
                Sorry Mr. Biggs- I'm not buying it. Everyone I ever knew with a '56 golden Hawk had problems with that engine; always weight related. And the problem was always solved when they swapped to the Stude engine. If the Packard motor weighed only 50 lbs more then that was enough to make the deciding difference.

                I don't show my Studes; I drive them every day. So I'm very attuned to the design flaws. And there were plenty of them. That's one of the things I enjoy most about Studes- fixing them to last as long as the bullet proof V8 that propels them. I'm sure the weight of the Packard engine is no problem at all to people who only trailer their Hawks to shows.

                Besides, you were so busy lambasting me you didn't answer my question. Are you saying the frame on the '64 Hawk was stiffer than the '62 & '63? And are the GT frames stiffer than the '53 thru '61 models?

                thank you very much.


                • #9
                  I wasn't "lambasting" you, just quoting from the article and what I know from my own years of Studebakering. I don't show Studes either - what a waste! They're not some piece of Ming dynasty pottery to be showcased under glass. If I'm gonna put blood sweat and knuckle skin into one, I'm gonna enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed - on the road. Been doing so for 32 years now. Don't drive brand Xs at all. (OK, so I drive the wife's Toyota now and then. I do have to keep attuned to how it's running.[:I])
                  I've personally known several 56J owners and the only gripe any of them really had was with the Ultramatic tranny. THOSE I've personally had encounters with when I worked at a resto shop in the 70s.
                  But problems with the engine - other'n the oil pump shortcoming I mentioned - no biggies.
                  With a blower on it (as all Stude-powered Golden Hawks had) the weight difference was FIVE pounds. Not 50.
                  What's further mentioned in the article I referenced is that for the '57 G-Hawk, they set the engine's weight back a bit and they changed the symmetry of the rear springs. It was that change in Spring symmetry that made a big difference in the handling of the 57 over the 56. That's why they did it. If Packard's engine production line hadn't shut down in '56, they probably wouldn't have gone to the supercharged Stude engine for the G-hawks.
                  I used to know a fella in Atlanta that had a 56J with 3spd O/D in it. He lived in a house that was on top of a steep hill. The main road was well below the house and the driveway was amazingly steep. This fella would pull into the end of the driveway - with 5 people in the car (my fat ass was one of them!) and shift into 3rd gear. Then without touching the gas pedal, he'd just ease out on the clutch and chug right up the hill in 3rd gear. Amazing!
                  I know I"ve read it somewhere, that the 64 Hawk frame was superior to all before it. As to what fashion it was "superior", I can't recall. It COULD BE that it was of heavier gage metal than previous frames. I don't have first-hand knowledge of such.
                  I HAVE taken calipers into a wrecking yard full of Studes to confirm that there were differences between different models and between the same models with different engines (6 vs V8). EVEN THO - one replacement frame part # is listed for a given body style this was only to make stocking replacement frames easier. If they carried only the heavier gage frames in parts inventory, that was less space taken up. When the cars were put together at the factory, there were lighter gage frames typically under sedans and certainly under 6-cylinder cars. Trucks all got the same frame whether or not they had a 6 or an 8.

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


                  • #10
                    1953 C/K frame thickness was 0.078 inch, In 1954, the B-pillar crossmember was added. The frame thickness was increased a couple of times. I don't recall the years or thicknesses. By the end of C/Ks (1964), the frame was 0.120 inch. I believe that all Gran Turismo Hawks were the same (but could be proven wrong if my memory is wrong on this poiunt).
                    Gary L.
                    Wappinger, NY

                    SDC member since 1968
                    Studebaker enthusiast much longer