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Projects 1953 Studebaker!

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by DemonTweaks, May 20, 2020.

  1. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    Hi y'all!
    After selling a bike I had had sitting around I find myself with an itch to 'invest' that cash in an intelligent manner, a Hot Rod!
    And low and behold up pops one of my alltime favs on Craigslist, a 1953 Studebaker hard top..! It's an old daily driver from a guy that raced on Bonneville (with other cars) I was told by the seller (the son of the guy, that got it when he passed away) and there is visible stickers on the windscreen proving it. (Only seen half-ass pix, not in person yet)
    Been sitting inside for 15+ years so needs work but is a California car so rust is minimal.
    Now.
    Would it be worth rebuilding the front suspension vs. fab in a Mustang II or similar kit from some company? Who would you guys recomended for the latter? (Rear got a 9" Ford axle already and (I guess..) stock style leafsprings)
    Air ride would be schweet so it can be used but still cruise and park on the ground, like a real 'saltdog' car like these often was. Recommendations on parts on that?

    Any input and thoughts appreciated!

    (And if the post is in the wrong place let me know, or admins feel free to move it.)
     
  2. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,554

    flatford39
    Member

    Your at the wrong site to be talking Mustang II front ends. Nothing wrong with the factory front end. Hell he raced it right and it survived.

    Don't overthink this. The 53 Stude is on my bucket list so if you pass please post info on it.
     
  3. MO54Frank
    Joined: Apr 1, 2019
    Posts: 271

    MO54Frank
    Member

    Join the Studebaker Drivers Club forum. You can get lots of useful information there.
     
  4. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,075

    wvenfield
    Member

    It worked fine once, it will again.....as is.
     
    dana barlow and DemonTweaks like this.
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  5. Drive it before you throw Rocks at it. Bruce's #219 set several records over 200mph with stock steering.
    upload_2020-5-20_15-20-31.jpeg
     
  6. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,920

    Mike VV
    Member
    from SoCal

    Demon -

    Having owned and driven Studebakers for the last 15+ years, I can say, dollar for dollar, AND driveability wise, save your money and work, just rebuild the stock front suspension.
    AND...add a 70's GM, front anti-sway bar. (Camaro, Monte Carlo, Firebird). I've driven a 59 Lark, 2dr. wagon that I recently sold as a...daily driver. With a reproduction, Studebaker, H.D. rear bar.
    And...no...forget adding a rack & pinion steering on a Stude suspension. A few have claimed that they have done it. High school geometry says that the related "bump steer" will be as bad or even worse than the Stock Stude steering. Installing a "Ross" steering box into a 53-55 chassis IS, a good swap though.

    Note - I had very little trouble with my little 259 powered Lark in just over 93,000 miles. Also note, while it's not an overnight swap, Chevy (small & big) engines are almost a drop in. Adapters for a GM automatic (4spd's) to bolt up to the Stude engines are available.

    99.8% of the front end kits on the market are designed with the SAME basic geometry as the Stude has. If you want a better handling car, you need to offer up more money to the chassis builders and get them to design in the "proper" geometry.
    That is, the Stude control arms are parallel in both plains. SO ARE the basic "kit" front suspensions. So...why change to something that is, in reality...the same as the Stude engineers designed back in 1952..!
    Beside all the measuring, welding, sweat, skinned knuckles, etc., etc., It's just not worth the time or money.

    Just a side note - ALL of the Studebaker chassis are the same in the front (and basically the rear too) from 53 to the end at 1966. Even the Avanti. Control arms, arm mounting, factory anti-sway bars, while slightly different, will interchange. Shocks mounting is slightly different in 53 to 55, but after that...same, same.

    Just a heads up, you'll find the same basic answer / comments over on the Studebaker Drivers site, or the Studebaker Racing site. Both good places to learn from.

    Mike

    P.S. - There is a couple of semi-expensive kits available that DO, do a decent job of a kit to install a C4 Corvette front suspension. But again, lotsa work and a good bit of money, especially for a daily driver.

    P.s. again... I'm working on a 54 Conestoga (2dr. wagon) as my next daily driver. Ported heads, custom intake manifold, Avanti exh. manifolds, GM T-200-4R trans., 3.70 gears. Next task's, wiring and exhaust system and it should be ready to drive.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,921

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

  8. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 406

    KenC
    Member

    53 was the best looking of the coupes/Hawks IMNSHO. Neat, clean style before the later ones got slathered with chrome and doodads. I also vote for a front end rebuild, with added disk brakes.
     
  9. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    Thanks for all the info 'Mike VV'!
    Makes sense after looking at how the suspension actually is designed and I found disk brake kits that are bolt-on and cheap. Had a -66 Nova SS many moons ago with four wheel (tiny) drums and that thing did not wanna stop much!
    And after looking at the auxiliary pictures the guy sent me it's definitely a car worth not hacking up. And since it have a SCTA plaque on the dash... it have already hit some speed 'as-is'!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
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  10. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    Instigator!
     
  11. cometman98006
    Joined: Sep 4, 2011
    Posts: 221

    cometman98006
    Member

    Had a 54 starlight coup with the small v8. Bought in ‘59 in Illinois and drove it home to Seattle. Loved that car, rebuilt the engine and had it repainted. Was a great until a drunk in a Hudson going the other way spun out infront of me. I’d love to have one today.
     
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  12. The later 1962 Avanti up and 1963 up Hawks/Lark disk brakes are also a bolt on. Think I have about a half dozen sets sitting around....They are Dunlap calipers - brake shoes are not hard to find.
     
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  13. charlesf
    Joined: Jan 14, 2009
    Posts: 164

    charlesf
    Member

    Nearly 20 years ago I built the ‘53 Commander Coupe in my avatar (since gone to live in Tucson with Docc). It had a running 259 and stock suspension/steering. I thought I needed a sbc and Volare/Diplomat suspension/steering. It all worked, but in retrospect I always wished I’d given the Stude parts a chance, it would have saved me untold hours and dollars.
     
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  14. sdroadster
    Joined: Jul 27, 2006
    Posts: 308

    sdroadster
    Member

    I have one that has gone 221 mph mounted on an extended cab S10 chassis 14064130_1335536299807282_1488340377656694499_n[1].jpg .
     
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  15. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    That's a lot of spares!
     
  16. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    That's awesome!
    The S10 'swaps' are popular with all kinds of cars I've learend. As long as it's not the kind where you take the dash and other interior... it's a smart and (possibly) quicker way to build a hot rod.
     
  17. I'm not sure I can ask this so I'll be careful. With the front wheel opening so far forward on the Studebaker and the let's just call it Truck Chassis steering box mounted way forward on it's Frame Rail how much inner fender, core support, grill aria did you have to carve up to get things mounted and is this good construction ideas for a car he wants to drive more than 5 miles at a time? Also with the Motor behind the axle center line not on top of, what kind of springs would be necessary to get a good street ride? I hope I asked this in generic hot rod form enough to get a decent answer and not in the Taboo Frame Graph content.
     
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  18. saltracer219
    Joined: Sep 23, 2006
    Posts: 749

    saltracer219
    Member

    We went pretty fast with the stock setup. When I restored the car I put in all N.O.S. front suspension. Then after we fought handling problems it was highly re-worked by a professional NASCAR Chassis builder. The car actually went to Florida to get this done! We ONLY did this because we had to. At the time we were running the SCTA would not allow us to change the front suspension and still remain in Gas Coupe class. Had we been able to make a front suspension change I would have put in an aftermarket independent setup and eliminated all the grief with that bellcrank b.s. I would not suggest a chassis swap as the factory frame is a very good unit.
     
  19. SicSpeed
    Joined: Apr 23, 2014
    Posts: 642

    SicSpeed
    Member
    from Idaho

    There is no way I’d use a mustang 2 set up . My sons 37 came with the cross member installed. I thought that would work out great. That set up is a rip-off buying parts for. Use a squared stock car clip. And any stock car chassis builder builds clips and parts are better quality and more cost and performance friendly. And using a rack is perfect on these set ups



    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  20. HLB
    Joined: May 19, 2014
    Posts: 20

    HLB

    L
    I have a 1954 Commander have owned it for 37 years . Picture on
    my site HLB .never had any trouble with front end like anything else you have to keep everything greased.only thing I changed was steering box put a Saginaw box on which was a higher option on a 54
     
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  21. Saltracer219, your right. I forgot about that little cross country trip to Florida. Been to many Years and to many Projects ago to remember everything about everything.
     
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  22. SicSpeed
    Joined: Apr 23, 2014
    Posts: 642

    SicSpeed
    Member
    from Idaho

    I have a 56 Silver Hawk, I’m not condemning stock suspension but commenting with my opinion on a Mustang 2 swap.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  23. mr.chevrolet
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 6,710

    mr.chevrolet
    Member

    i owned this for a little while, had a fatman stub. was a 55 president Speedster stude 25.JPG stude5.JPG
     
  24. sdroadster
    Joined: Jul 27, 2006
    Posts: 308

    sdroadster
    Member

     
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  25. MO54Frank
    Joined: Apr 1, 2019
    Posts: 271

    MO54Frank
    Member

    Get on YouTube and search La Carrera Panamericana. You will lose count of the 53-57 Studebakers.
     
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  26. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    It was to good to pass up.
     

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  27. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,913

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    On any of those early/mid 50's independent front end cars there are only a few viable reasons to swap suspension. 1. the original crossmember unit isn't reparable due to damage or cracks or it isn't there to begin with as it was cut out of the car before you got it. 2. Parts are so hard to get and so freaking expensive when you find them that the cost exceeds common sense. 3. It was a junk setup to begin with that won't hold alignment or handle when it is aligned.

    That said it doesn't matter what rig you do a Camaro/Firebird subframe or S-10 swap on you end up hacking up about half the inner sheet metal in front of the wheels to get the crap to fit. Worse with front steer than rear steer. Both my 48 truck and my 51 Merc were subframed with Camaro rear steer subframes. Both drove great but both had so much cutting on front end inner sheet metal to get them to work it was ridiculous and if you run a front steer that isn't a pickup body spaced up several inches off the frame rails you cut even more metal out plus usually have to build a new core support and swap radiators.
    I don't remember driving a 53/54 Lowboy but worked on, aligned and test drove a number of Hawks over the years and they usually drove pretty nice.
     
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  28. DemonTweaks
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 20

    DemonTweaks
    Member
    from T-Town, WA

    Now when I have in my shop and looking it over it doesn't seem bad. The car is very well preserved and even though it's a bit of a funky design of the OEM steering (that for sure will have a lot of bump-steer!) it might only need a few new components and tighten the box a bit and be good to go. Even though the car for sure ran on the dry lakes (got a SCTA plate on the dash!) I don't think I'll be hitting 200 in it soon, so it is definitely good for the street.
     
    Pist-n-Broke likes this.
  29. hdman6465
    Joined: Jul 5, 2009
    Posts: 652

    hdman6465
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here is one that I have been working on over 20 years and have never driven! HPIM0879.JPG
     
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