1955 Studebaker Speedster
The 1953 Studebaker, particularly the top of the line “K” body hardtops, demonstrated a radical departure from the staid, boxy bodied cars of the Detroit based big three manufacturers. The K-body Commanders, with their unbroken beltline, low silhouette and sleek looks, were the product of the Raymond Lowey design studio, a legendary auto design fixture in pre and post war cars. The styling was received quite well and received much attention in written media and garnered several styling awards.
Studebaker built 2,215 Speedsters in 1955, an active registry indicates that over 300 have been accounted for; scrapped, restorable or restored to some degree. Of all the Speedsters built only 151 were built with standard transmissions. Mine is a factory 3-speed car making it quite rare.
I found my Speedster in Pennsylvania. By the time I found the car (late 2013), it had been largely disassembled and was basically a rolling chassis. Also, much modification had been done to the body. The original front clip was replaced by a “Fatman” conversion that was well done. It included GM disc brakes, Mustang II steering, and stainless steel wishbones with 2” drop spindles. The entire front body was after-market fiberglass with a ’53 grille fascia. Over the first year the car passed from one shop to another, getting some work done, but otherwise wasting some money for poor work. Eventually the fully repaired body was reunited with the restored chassis. I replaced the patched rear fenders with NOS fenders and the badly warped (from excessive sand-blasting) doors with solid good quality used doors. Because the car had been disassembled for a long time, nearly all of the original glass was intact and in good original condition. I had to replace only the vent window glass. I purchased an authentic reproduction interior from Southeast Studebaker which was professionally installed on the restored seat frames and elsewhere. There are a number of departures from the original Speedster, the dash was fabricated without a radio opening and an additional gauge was installed. Some of the stainless trim was omitted.
I had originally built the car as a "Studillac" and had installed a mildly modified and rebuilt '55 Cadillac. Later I added a '59 El Dorado tri-power carburation set up.
The transmission is the little known GM MY6 version of the MOPAR NP883 4 speed overdrive that also used a factory installed Hurst shifter. A one-piece driveshaft was fabricated and the rear axle is 8.25 inch GM 10 bolt (S10) with 3:42 final drive.
Recently, after some misfortunes with the Cadillac motor, I replaced it with a 1965 McKinnon Industries (Chevy) 283 engine, the same motor used in Canadian built Studebakers in 1965 and 1966. The engine is basically stock except for headers and a four barrel Rochester 4GC carburetor. The transmission is the same as before.
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The Studebaker on the road
The Misselwood Concours d’Elegance - 2018
The Misselwood Concours d’Elegance took place at the Misselwood Estate at Endicott College in Beverly on July 21, 2018. Packard, Studebaker, and alternate fuel vehicles were featured. Over 100 automobiles and motorcycles competed in 18 different classes.
The Misselwood Estate in Beverly was formerly owned by Boston Brahmin Susan B. Cabot and is now owned by Endicott College.