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Projects '53 Studebaker Cpe W/354 Hemi Build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by frank spittle, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    After graduating from high school in 1962 with no further education in mind I went to work and started looking for a neat car to drive. It didn't take long to find one. A guy who was a few years older than me had just lost his drivers license and had his car for sell. It was a '54 Studebaker Coupe with a "270" horse 283 Corvette engine. It still had the original green paint which was the only thing I didn't like about it. He was asking $500.00 for it but needed the loot so I bought it for $350.00. I had it painted Honduras maroon and drove it for about a year. While I was driving it I saw another coupe sitting in a yard with a for sale sign and stopped out of curiosity and when I raised the hood I could not believe my eyes. It had a Hemi engine. It could have been a Chrysler or a smaller Dodge or Desoto but it was a Hemi. It looked like it fit in there as nice as my Chevy did. I never forgot that car. So, when I ran across this 40,000 mile original '53 coupe many years ago I bought it and put it up until I could get around to it.....that is building it with an early Hemi. My engine of choice was a '57-'58 392 300C or D engine with the factory 2x4s. I found a complete '57 300C engine and put it up too. My car is the Champion which came with a 6 cylinder engine. But I was surprised to find out that the Chrysler 300C complete engine only weighs about 100 pounds more than the '53 Commander V-8. That doesn't sound possible does it. It's true. But it is so much bigger.

    When I finally got around to it I took it to Fatmans to have the engine mounted and a Mustang 11 front clip and 9" Ford rear end installed. More pictures soon.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  2. 41hemi
    Joined: Jul 2, 2007
    Posts: 982

    41hemi
    Member

    Sure sounds like a great combination to me! But then again, I might be partial to hemis and Studerbakers:) Please keep us posted on progress.
     
  3. THE FRENCHTOWN FLYER
    Joined: Jun 6, 2007
    Posts: 3,888

    THE FRENCHTOWN FLYER
    Member
    from FRENCHTOWN

    Great project. I believe the original V8 was the Packard 352 ci engine that Studebaker was using at the time until they went with their own 289 (287?) V8. That would explain why it weighed almost as much as the Hemi.
     
  4. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755

    stude_trucks
    Member

    Studebakers and hemis are a very bad combination......











    .....for your wallet. :D

    But otherwise awesome. Good luck with it!
     

  5. The old Stude V-8 was a heavy old piece of pig iron. It was just a baby Caddy.

    I owned a '57 Hawk for about 20 minutes with a Desoto Hemi in it once. Same body more or less. They fit well.

    Good luck on your build.

     
  6. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Here are some better pictures of the project car. It was not garaged as you can see (original faded paint) but has an incredibly solid and straight body. There are no dents other than door dings and a dent in the front of the hood under the emblem and is rust free (no rot) except the bottom of the front fenders where moisture collects between the fender and brace. As you can see the front valance panel is even straight. The passenger floors and trunk floor have no rusted through areas. All the chrome will need replating or replacing and I know that will be at least 5k. This car will still have all the original sheet metal and most of the original bright metal when finished. I was very fortunate to find a car this solid.
     

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  7. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,457

    296ardun
    Member

    The '53 Stude V-8 was 232" -- not the later Packard, but weighted as much as a Cad V8 with 100 fewer cubic inches...I had one once that I was going to put in an altered, but sold it when I realized the weight/cu. in. penalty.....
     
  8. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    Well i graduated in 62 also. In the 50s there was a 53 Stude 2 blocks over and 3 blocks up from my house. I was riding my bike one day and the hood was up on it as he was playing with it. There it was... a big old Hemi in there. The same engine as the one in the AMT 32 Roadster kit!! It sure impressed me as a young teenager. I can't remember if it was a coupe or a hard top but I sure do remember the Hemi in it.

    About 20 years ago I bought a 53 HT with a Chevy and a 4spd. I bought it as a beater/driver but it had so many issues that I sold it rather than get into another major project. The most annoying thing was the window rattles. Yeah it's not that hard to fix but I wish it had been a coupe. I might have kept it.
     
  9. OldsRanch
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 185

    OldsRanch
    Member

    Nice project. Get on it!
     
  10. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Here it is at Fat Man Fabrications with Brent getting ready to amputate the original front clip.
     

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  11. Here is a picture for some inspiration. This is scanned from a book printed in 1966, called Drag Racing- quarter mile thunder.
     

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  12. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Here it is with the 9" Ford installed and the 4-link coil over shock rear suspension. Brent said he used a '57 Ford station wagon housing assembly and did not need to narrow it. It sure surprised me that it fit perfectly.
     

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  13. 41hemi
    Joined: Jul 2, 2007
    Posts: 982

    41hemi
    Member

    Here is a picture of my friend Skeet's 53. He built it in 1959 and has raced it since then. He just turned 80 this past year and I saw him drive it into the East Coast National indoor car show in December. The Pontiac mill sounds awesome:)
     

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  14. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    I got to know Skeets about 20 years ago. There are not many racers who have the car they raced 50 years ago. He is quite a character and still loves playing with his Studebaker.
     
  15. 41hemi
    Joined: Jul 2, 2007
    Posts: 982

    41hemi
    Member

    Yes you are right he is quite a character! I only met him about 4 years ago. Come to find out I have lived less than 2 miles from him for 27 years. He is truly our local legend and is respected immensely. He has been inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame. He was the driver of the "Baltimore Bandit" Funny car during its heyday.
     
  16. RDR
    Joined: May 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,363

    RDR
    Member

    Oh boy Frank, did you ever bring back some old memories! My buddy through school years told me he was buying a Studebaker....WHAT?? All I new about them was the old bullet nose (ugly to us kids then) and I thought he was nuts...Told me it was a '53 and looked cool and that I must have never seen one..he was right...I hadn't and man was it cool! Had a tired 232 V8 so in 1962 we proceeded to put a 354 Hemi in it using what tools we had as kids...hacksaw, drill,and hand tools....EASY installation....hauled ASS....the 4bbl carb was so close to the hood that it ran no air cleaner and under a hard acceleration would actually suck the hood down and richen the fuel causing huge flames out the tailpipes....I was in autobody class at the Vocational School and got his car in for a paint job and put a hood scoop on....Honduras Maroon was what Robert picked also....this pic was taken by his sis when we first got the car home...it was yellow
    Sorry for blabbing on so but appreciate the chance to share in your build...:DRandy
     

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  17. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Here it is with the M11 front clip and the 392 engine mounted. I had mentioned to Brent I hoped it would fit without butchering. I was really pleasantly surprised to see Brent did not need to modify the firewall or inner fender panels. He really thinks things out before doing the work. My goal now is to keep it looking like it came from the factory with a Hemi. I don't think the hood will shut with 2-4 barrels though. Not with the sloping shape of the hood. Might have to use a single carb. And I might need to trim the driver's side inner fender panel for header clearance. Will know soon.
     

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  18. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Much to my surprise after mounting the hood it will close over both carbs. Even has room for short air cleaners. I will need to trim the drivers side inner fender panel for header clearance but the nearly half inch shorter deck height of the 331-354 has made me change my mind and go with a 354. I don't think I will need to alter ANYTHING under the hood.

    Got the body off and you can see the chassis mods better. Brent added a rear crossmember to strengthen the frame. Will unbolt EVERYTHING from frame for powdercoating.
     

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  19. speedyb
    Joined: May 12, 2010
    Posts: 484

    speedyb
    Member
    from socal

    Frank, thats one sweet ride.I miss my 54 coupe more every day.
     
  20. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,091

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    What a great car/engine combo! Seems to sit a bit higher in than I would want personally, but still nice!
     
  21. Mr. Speed
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 46

    Mr. Speed
    Member
    from USA

    That is awesome!! What do you have planned for the rest of it? Lowering, wheels, tires, etc.?
     
  22. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    It will be a little lower than stock. I will have two different sets of tires and wheels. One set will be 15 inch steel wheels with stock '53 Studebaker wheel covers. These covers are popular on custom cars but will give it a stock look on this car. I will use Firestone wide whites for tires. This will be the "sleeper" look. The other set will be 15 inch American Torque Thrust with Michelin Radials.
     
  23. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Thanks, I have it high to make it easier to load and unload for now. It will be lower than stock when finished.
     
  24. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Here are some detailed pictures of the body futher apart. Unlike most projects the more this car is dismantled the better it looks. I was really fortunate to find a car of this quality.
     

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  25. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    A little more progress with the body.
     

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  26. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Back together again......FINALLY.
     

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  27. jroberts
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,650

    jroberts
    Member

    And it looks great too! Well done.
     
  28. She's a beaut! Congrats!

    JK
     
  29. captainjunk#2
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,418

    captainjunk#2
    Member

    awesome a hemi powered studebaker to cooool
     
  30. cometman98006
    Joined: Sep 4, 2011
    Posts: 223

    cometman98006
    Member

    I'm a newbie but saw your Stude and it reminded me of the "54 I had with the V-8. It was one of the cars I've liked best and I've had a lot of cool stockers. Some that are worth a lot today. But a Hemi in that car is something else. Good luck with it.
     

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