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Champion suspension

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  • Other: Champion suspension

    I had a reply on another post mentioning the 51 had possibly better steering and suspension over the 50 model. Could someone help elaborate on that? I am looking to purchase a Starlight model and wondered if a 50 could be upgraded or just better off to go with a 51.

    Also, what additional significance did the 2 inch larger wheelbase on the 51 have over the 50? I did read that the Champion and the Commander shared this same wheelbase in 51.

    Thanks for any input,

  • #2
    The fifty Champion front suspension is a one-year only design. They made an awful lot of them, so it's not really an issue for most parts. Some people feel the '50 Champion front suspension is kind of fragile. One thing about it; it does not lend itself well to a V8 transplant. Fifty-one onward, the Champion and Commander cars shared most suspension parts other than springs and sway bars, so transplants are easier.

    Thing to remember is for 1950 and back, Champion and Commander were completely different cars, chassis-wise and drive train-wise. Some body and trim parts were shared, but many were not. From 1951 onward, Champions and Commanders shared most body and chassis parts, save for dashes and drive trains, putting Studebaker much closer to the Big 3 practice of having more or less standard cars with varying engine options.

    Nothing wrong with a '50 Champion if the front end is in good shape. Many, many people enjoy them.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


    • #3
      Hi Brett, I am sorry I did not answer your other post this one:

      It is really quite hard to explain without the Studebaker Chassis Parts Catalog Pics to SEE the difference.

      I will try to simplify it for you. The 1950 Champion Suspension was kind of a stop gap design that only lasted one year, it was the first year that Studebaker moved away from the Planar Susp. which was a transverse leave spring.
      So it was the first coil spring design, it had a Idler arm to secure the right side steering and a strange dual rubber bushed Pitman Arm that required new bushings very often, it is high maintenance, has too many parts which cause lost motion in the system, and it is harder to find parts for a one year design and just not a great system.

      For some reason a different Coil Spring design was done on the '50 Commander and it was quite a bit better.

      The design that replaced BOTH of them in 1951, (with only minor upgrades over the years) was good enough to be used on both Champion and Commander and all Sixes and Eights, also until the end of production in 1966.
      This is a much better, and durable Suspension and Steering system even used on 150 MPH plus Avantis.

      In summation, I am sure plenty of these being Studebaker's highest Production Year ever, have driven Millions of safe miles and would be fine for short trips to Car Shows, Parades and around town.
      Maybe it's just me, but I prefer the best, longest lasting, less maintenance Models I can get, so I have different Studebaker desires than 1950 Champions.
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner


      • #4
        I am new to Studebakers, and there are some very knowledgeable people on this forum. However, I have been researching this very subject prior to buying my 48 Champion Starlight coupe. I am doing a major project with my car, and I was primarily looking for the lightest weight version. In the 47-49 models, the Champion is several hundred pounds lighter, some of which is the bigger engine, but obviously the longer body was also part of it. Certainly the longer front end would have made our engine swap much easier.

        Thanks to Studerich for the summary, which answered a lot of my questions. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with dual A-arms and a transverse leaf spring, but the 47-49 suspension had really awful camber control because of the poor geometry of the upper A-arm. Of course the engineers in 1946 did not have the advantage of reading Carroll Smith's books, but it is surprising they did such a poor design job.

        In case you have not seen it, this seems like a good summary of the dimension and weight differences:
        Last edited by 48skyliner; 10-09-2013, 12:46 AM.
        Trying to build a 48 Studebaker for the 21st century.
        See more of my projects at


        • #5
          This is quite helpful. I appreciate the outstanding information. Thank you.



          • #6
            Although the 50 Commander is also a 1 year only, It was even superior to the 51-66 design. The solid bushings, Houdaille adjustable shocks last forever (almost) Still had the center point steering. No flexi frame (much deeper draw, and rigidity) Front AND rear anti sway bars. And as Rich breifly mentioned they too had coil springs. Most people think they were a left over of the planar design.....not so.
            Bez Auto Alchemy

            "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln


            • #7
              Everything I heard prior to buying my car was that Studebaker really make the 50 Commanders nice and beefy all around. Champions are great but the upgraded parts are a big reason I went with a Commander...

              1950 Commander Starlight Coupe
              Regal Deluxe Trim
              Automatic transmission
              46k original miles, 4th Owner