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Question about My original 51' Commander Starlight frame

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  • Other: Question about My original 51' Commander Starlight frame

    So I finally got My 51' Commander Starlight up off My shop floor on stands, and after perhaps the first One to look under the car since 1984 I was really surprised at how clean and rust free the frame is. My question is which direction to go with the car. as the original drive train is long gone I plan on installing the 289 V8 and T10 4spd I removed from My 1962 Gran Turismo. I would like to skip the trial and error part of the build as much as possible by asking lots of questions.
    1.) Will I need to update the stock rear end in My 51 to accommodate the newer running gear?

    2.)Could I use the 62 GH rear end to my advantage in this build.

    3.) What alterations to frame or transmission tunnel

    I truly appreciate any and all of Your input, Though I am pretty much a purest when I build a car I want this car to be safe, and updated enough to hope in it and drive to Southern California (to a secret Studebaker stash) if I wanted.
    I hate the idea of driving a classic car with a trailer full of "might needed parts" in tow.
    Have a fine day all!
    Patrick Sammon

  • #2
    Since the V-8 was available in 51, fitting your hawk engine should be no problem. The stock rear in the 51 is a Dana 44 and if you don't mind the gear ratio and tapered axles will work. The GT rear end will be wider than the 51 version. The 51 and 52 cars were narrower than 53 up. The 52 Commander I am getting has a S-10 rear, but I am told that a rear from a Ford Explorer is a good width, is stronger and has the right bolt pattern for a Studebaker. The GT front brakes will swap just fine.
    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
    1952 2R pickup


    • #3
      Just a couple points; first the Dana 44 rear is the same as the later 44's in the Studes as far as strength. About the only difference is the '51 is about two inches narrower so there's no reason to swap as far as strength.

      Don't know of any alterations needed to the frame. As far as trans tunnel, I assume you may be putting a one piece drive shaft in. You may need to either enlarge the existing hole in the fcross menber that the two piece goes through or modify it in some way. When I did this on my '51 years ago, the drive shaft was larger in diameter and was hitting the floor so I got the bright idea of using a bottle jack and just putting a dent in the floor. After jacking it up a few minutes I noticed it was not bending and as I looked around I saw it had lifted the car off one of the jack stands. This gives you an idea of the metal in them.

      I don't recall exactly what I did to solve it but ashamed to show I am NOT a polished or high tech type of restorer.

      One tip in case you don't realize, you can put the '54 and later brakes on the '51 by just transferring the backing plates, hardware and drums and really improve the braking.

      Good luck with your project.



      • #4
        Thanks guys and keep the tips coming!
        Patrick Sammon


        • #5
          yeah, a lo0ng one piece driveshaft needs to be bigger diameter than the individual two pieces. It's an rpm/critical speed thing.


          • #6
            Note: The 8.8 Explorer rear end has the pinion off-set about 3" to one side. It is not centered.