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V-8 or 6 swap?

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  • Engine: V-8 or 6 swap?

    I have been gathering information about parts to put a Studebaker V-8 in my M series pickup. The only pictures I have seen made it look like the firewall set back was minimal, but after talking to 41Frank in Branson about the Stude V-8 in his 41 Champion I am reconsidering. The Champion has basically the same firewall as the M and Frank set his back more than I expected. I was planning to run an overdrive transmission so clutch linkage would limit the engine positioning options.
    I hate to compromise the limited leg room any more than necessary so what do I do? Of course a Champion engine would fit fine, but it is limited on power. I do have an aluminum head and dual intake and I could bump the power some and a 5 speed transmission might give more flexibility for climbing hills.
    Another possibility would be a later V-6, but I hate to not use a Stude engine. Also, I have no idea about the best/most available V-6 to use.
    I know if I make this too complicated that it might never get finished. What would you do?
    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
    1952 2R pickup

  • #2
    You are going about it the right way. Ask questions, ask for photos. Pay the money to travel to where other M-trucks are and drive the completed project. Having been through a similar exercise installing a Packard V8 in a C-cab, I'd recommend making some basic decisions, make a plan before turning a wrench and stick to it. What do you want when you're done?

    1. A M-series truck which looks like one Studebaker would have built if they'd continued it into 1951 when the V8 was introduced? This means keeping everything as OEM as possible. Few or no aftermarket parts.

    2. A good-driving truck using as many Stude-related parts as possible, but aftermarket where necessary. Disc brakes, but maybe from Turner. A Stude V8 but with a T5 and a hydraulic throwout bearing.

    3. An M-series with a later BrandX engine and tranny.

    4. A silhouette truck - looks like an M-cab from a distance, but has late-model frame and running gear.

    Your money, your truck, your decision. Just do your homework first.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    • #3
      I envision this truck looking as stock as possible. I plan to drive the truck to work on occasion, to chapter meetings and some meets. The steep pulls between here and Branson are what made me think of more power. I am very familiar with a Champion engine and I know I could go anywhere with it, but holding up traffic is not fun.
      "In the heart of Arkansas."
      Searcy, Arkansas
      1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
      1952 2R pickup

      Comment


      • #4
        So a flat (or better yet OHV) 185 is out of the question? Just asking.

        Comment


        • #5
          Nope, nothing is off the table for now. I happen to have a running 289 and overdrive transmission, but I would have to get any other engine. We have a 62 T cab with an OHV six and I considered putting the V-8 in the T cab. I am not sure that the OHV wouldn't require firewall work also, but not as much. I also don't want two projects at once.
          "In the heart of Arkansas."
          Searcy, Arkansas
          1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
          1952 2R pickup

          Comment


          • #6
            How about a Commander six? The ones built from 49-60 have something like 249 cubic inches and lots of torque. Coupled with the appropriate rear axle ratio and an overdrive transmission, you could drive on the highway and pull any hill, as long as you are not planning on doing the hill at 70 MPH.

            M-series trucks came with Commander six engines as well as Champion engines, right? That means stock parts are available for a bolt in installation, if you can find the parts.
            RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

            17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
            10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
            10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
            4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
            5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
            56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
            60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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            • #7
              I think the Commander six trucks had a different firewall, but the engines were available in M series trucks. The part about the proper rear gear is a sticking point too. Most of the suggestions I have had are from vehicles that are old enough to be hard to find.
              "In the heart of Arkansas."
              Searcy, Arkansas
              1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
              1952 2R pickup

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 52-fan View Post
                I think the Commander six trucks had a different firewall, but the engines were available in M series trucks. The part about the proper rear gear is a sticking point too. Most of the suggestions I have had are from vehicles that are old enough to be hard to find.
                Yes. The firewall of the M16 and M17 had to be indented to accommodate the longer length of the Commander 6.
                Skip Lackie

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                • #9
                  Test fitting with a dummy block (tip o' the hat to Ed Bauer)


                  The running engine in place. Note the radiator mounted to the front of the frame rather than the back. No fan on the engine.


                  A view from the other side. I had to move the battery over a few inches. In retrospect I would have put a battery box behind the cab, under the bed.
                  Also, rather than replicating the original radiator in aluminum, I would have just found a cheap side-tank model that fit within the frame. The electric fan makes ALL the difference.


                  I had to modify a Chevy thermostat housing to have a reasonable hose bend to meet up with the top of the radiator. I would have found (or made) a radiator with a inlet that worked with the stock thermostat housing OR I would have found a water-pump manifold with a 4-bolt thermostat housing which comes straight up instead of the stock car housing.


                  We did put a notch in the M-5 Firewall ala an M16, but that was when I thought I would run an HEI distributor. Turns out the Mallory from Thibealt would have juuuuust fit.

                  I got a 700R4 transmission and sourced the adapter from Frank Van Doorn. Couldn't be happier.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    While the cowl on my 41 Champion is about the same as an M, the front clip is all together different, as I can readily see from Bob Waitz pics. The radiator saddles are completely different. I have come to the conclusion the M would be an easier conversion than a 41 Champion. The thing that hindered me was that I wanted AC, so that precluded me from using a pusher fan, which if used would have made cutting my firewall unnecessary. I have no leg room problems with the 6" firewall set back as a Champion seat frame has three sets of bolt holes. An M has pretty tight quarters, not so in a Champion.
                    Frank van Doorn
                    Omaha, Ne.
                    1962 GT Hawk 289 4 speed
                    1941 Champion streetrod, R-2 Powered, GM 200-4R trans.
                    1952 V-8 232 Commander State "Starliner" hardtop OD

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Stude V-8 in '47 M5 with PS, PB and A/C. Electric fan. 700R4 trans Contact forum member 47M-5 for details. http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...php?2967-47M-5

                      "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

                      Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                      Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                      sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

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                      • #12
                        So far all of the examples I have seen have automatic transmissions. I would like to use a 5 speed or a 3 speed with overdrive. The clutch linkage would limit how far I could move the engine for clearance. I suppose I could use a hydraulic clutch, but that means engineering a master cylinder for it. I may just have to get the parts together and start measuring, but I was hoping to save time and false starts.
                        "In the heart of Arkansas."
                        Searcy, Arkansas
                        1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                        1952 2R pickup

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I wouldn't even consider anything except hydraulic. Originally we used a cable clutch in the race car but eventually went with a Geo Tracker brake/clutch setup. Soooo much easier. Really works great in a '53. I'd see if it fits in an M-series.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would guess that the Geo setup is mounted on the firewall. I really would like to avoid hanging anything extra in the engine compartment.
                            "In the heart of Arkansas."
                            Searcy, Arkansas
                            1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                            1952 2R pickup

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have been saving a 95 jeep cherokee. in line 6, 4 wheel drive runs too. I want to transplant a stude truck on to it someday

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