My new Studebaker!!

10 Aug

So after months of looking and searching online, I finally found a really nice (in relation to age and storage method) blue 1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight. I found it on an odd sight, which I wasn’t expecting. Anyways after some negotiation, well not much really. I paid for the car sight unseen, and had it transported from Ca to Co. 

When Tom at Dragon Transport unloaded the car I was ecstatic! I still didn’t know the full condition of the car and the man whom sold it to me gave me a good idea of what needed repairs, but of course the full extent was unknown. It took me about 3 days to really get into the car and see how much rust it really had. Thankfully because I had joined the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC), I knew a basic amount about it. 

I found that the car really hadn’t been modified much beyond having headers which are just a really fancy exhaust system coming from the engine (and homemade headers at that!) 

I had no idea if the engine would even turn over. That just means that the pistons inside the engine would even reciprocate. So I had some self proclaimed “geezers” come over whom I meet at a local mostly classic car meet up do some basic diagnostics to the engine to see if it would actually turn over, and a couple other things like testing for a spark in the spark plugs, and cylinder compression. 

We discovered that the spark plugs produced no spark, which meant the points were bad. So after watching quite a few videos on Youtube, I found out what points were, and how to replace them. Thankfully most of the parts for this car in comparison to a late model vehicle are relatively to very inexpensive. Only bad part is most of them aren’t found at your local auto parts store, although I’m discovering something that I learned from the SDC forum which is Studebaker didn’t change basic parts or body/chassis configurations often so a wide range of other parts from other cars including non Studebaker parts will fit Studebakers. For example if you want say a disc brake setup for the car, you can actually buy parts from Ford and Chevrolet, install them with perhaps a few specialised mountain brackets from a couple aftermarket companies and they will work perfectly. 

The interior on this car is also destroyed, it came without keys (not fun), and a battery. It uses a 6 volt positive ground electrical system, which was phased out apparently right after this car was built, or at least from what I’ve heard about from 1953 on. Vehicles today use 12 volts, so finding anything in the latter can be difficult. 

A lot of the trim on this car is either rusted, dented, or broken. Most of which can be repaired, or some replaced. However, replacing trim parts for this car is where it begins to dive into the price range of new vehicle parts. Simple reason for this is supply and demand. Whilst the prices of many of the engine parts are relatively common, body parts are not. So if there’s any way you can salvage something such as a grill for the front of the car, instead of paying close to $400 for a new one, which might not look exactly wonderful, a better idea to me is see what new skill you can learn  repairing/renewing the original part. 

I’ve seen Studebakers at some car shows, and many of them because they’re so rare and such a unique body style compared to the big three of Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler, get a lot of attention. 

I’ve been uploading photos of my build progress at Facebook.com/spanner.bird as for the moment it’s easier to simply post photos, rather than to need to write commentary. I do however love telling the story of the journey of restoration. My current goal for this car because I don’t see many like it is an original restoration. From there (if I make it without getting an itch to do something more fun) I’ll then begin possibly modifying it. A 140 horse power 232 3.8L V8 might sound fun, but a much larger and more powerful/maybe fuel efficient engine also sounds as such. 

 

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