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Thickness of frame/body

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  • Thickness of frame/body

    Hello to all!
    I have a 1957 Studebaker Hawk with a Champion 185 6 cylinder. I was told that cars with 6 cylinder engines were made with a thinner frame and body so the smaller engine would perform better. This did not make any sense to me. I would think that would be too costly for Studebaker to have done. Has anyone heard this before? And, does anyone know what gauge metal the body panels are----i.e.--fenders, hoods etc?? Regards----Dan

  • #2
    From StudeBob in 1998 on the Studebaker news Group C-K frames were also thicker on V8"s (See second quote) :

    "OK fellas......The "Experts" are not to be de-framed, er , ah defamed.
    As I said I would, I took my MICs AND a metal guage gage along to the
    wrecking yard. I don't feel too bad but I will admit that my
    assumptions, based soley on the parts books, are wrong. There are
    readily evident differences amongst the varios frames I checked.
    (And, John, these are all central Calif. cars so most of the
    frames are only surface-rusted. I had to be careful about the edges
    being burred by production methods more than any erosion or rust-added
    thickness. And too, I did only check the channel sectiion of the
    frames and not the plate.)
    So, here's my findings:
    (Remember, the smaller the number, the THICKER the metal !)
    59V-8 4door......13 gage

    60V-8 4door.......13 gage
    60Six 4door........14 gage
    (2nd) 60Six 4door...15 gage ???

    61V-8 4door.(not cruiser) ...14gage
    61Six 4door.........15 gage

    62V-8 4door (Y-8)...12 gage
    62Six 2dr Sed.........15 gage

    63V-8 4door (fleet car of some sort) ...11gage
    63Six 4door (Y-4) ...12 gage

    64V-8 2door Sed......13 gage

    57Commander 4dr sed ...13 gage

    NOw, there are more larks and a few more mid-fifties jobs there but
    I could not get to a lot of them because these Studes sit in the
    lowest spot in the yard and I had not brought along any boots!
    I did not even look at any of the earlier stuff as the parts books
    themselves tell that story.
    In most cases I double-checked my findings with MICs and metal
    guage. All confirmed one another. There are no 2dr hdtps or ragtops
    there to compare or sliding roof wagons. I'm wondering if the same
    logic prevailed when it came to these bodies. I mean, here they were,
    adding a big, burly "X"-frame to ragrtops and sliders. Why wouldn't
    they opt for the stiffest frames in those cases???
    Studefarmer extrordinaire
    and his all-Parrot pit pals"

    Found this on C-K's

    "I know that later on the C/K frames did differ for example:
    On 1959 Silver Hawks, US-cars had 13 Gage (.0897") steel
    (most of the 6-cylinders had 14 Gage (0747")) while
    Canadian and Export cars all had 11 Gage (.1196").

    Michael Bostedt

    66 Sports sedan
    64 Daytona HT/R2 clone
    64 Daytona R2
    63 GT R2
    63 Lark 2 door
    62 Gt Hawk
    62 Lark 2 door
    60 Lark HT-60Hawk
    59 3E truck
    58 Starlight
    52 & 53 Starliner
    51 Commander

    JDP Maryland


    • #3
      Thanks JDP----I'll take my mic's home tonight and check the channel section of my Hawk. It will be interesting to see what I get. I'll let you know---Thanks again---Dan


      • #4
        There were many different frame thicknesses. Where some of the confusion comes in is with the parts books. The parts books list the same part number for six and V8 and for various years. The thing with parts books is that they are listing REPLACEMENT parts. It made more sense to stock one replacement part for the various thicknesses. Besides six and V8 differences, the C/K models had increases in the frame thicknesses at a few intervals during their production years of 1953-1964.

        Gary L.
        Wappinger, NY

        1959 DeLuxe pickup (restomod)
        Gary L.
        Wappinger, NY

        SDC member since 1968
        Studebaker enthusiast much longer


        • #5
          In SB last week I had laying on the ground near my '53 Champion hardtop, some pcs of rusted metal cut off the car and replaced during the restoration. I brought them with for fun One of them was a section of frame sidewall cut out from under the back seat [:0] It was still laying in the back of my pickup so I went out just now with a calipers to check the thickness near the edges where it wasn't pitted (or had holes!). I got ~0.085" thick which seems to be consistant with some lightly rusted 13GA (0.089").

          Jeff in ND

          '53 Champion Hardtop

          Jeff in ND


          • #6
            Thanks to all for your input. I will try to find time to check my Hawk tonight & post the result---at worst case the weekend.



            • #7
              There is no truth to the rumor you heard about the bodies, they are all the same thickness.

              The big deal with the frames is that 2dr. Sedans always had a lightweight frame. I have seen '65 Daytona Sport Sedans V8's that were ready to break in two at the front spring towers because of the 2dr. Sedan light (13 & 14ga.) frame, so bad you could see the movement when bouncing the front end! [xx(]

              As others stated the thickness did vary from year to year. Some years 6 cyl. was the same as 8 cyl. The gauge is clearly called out on the frame dimension charts in the Shop manual. In 1962 & on they went to heavier 11 Ga. frames on certain models especially the GT Hawk, so '62-'64 Hawks have the best frame to use under '53-'58 K bodies, and could be modified for '53-'61 "C" bodies.

              quote:Originally posted by DWard

              Hello to all!
              I have a 1957 Studebaker Hawk with a Champion 185 6 cylinder. I was told that cars with 6 cylinder engines were made with a thinner frame and body so the smaller engine would perform better.
              Studebakers Northwest
              Ferndale, WA
              Second Generation Stude Driver,
              Proud '54 Starliner Owner
              SDC Member Since 1967


              • #8
                Thanks to all!---Dan


                • #9
                  Just for reference
                  SteelGage Thickness(inches) Weight in pounds/square foot

                  10 .1345 5.62
                  11 .1196 5.00
                  12 .1046 4.37
                  13 .0897 3.74
                  14 .0747 3.12
                  25% weight savngs between 11 and 13 gage car frames. Probably $$$$ also.
                  The 1950 Champion Starlight
                  Santa Barbara