Studebaker Restorations – About Us

Spring 1960 I had one year left of high school. Actually, I had one class, “English Literature”. We lived too far from school to walk and there was no money for me to drive each day for a one- hour class. Since I had an interest in things mechanical I signed up for two hours of Auto mechanics, one hour of machine shop, and one hour of welding.

Most of the day was spent in one of the three shops. Seldom did I sit in Ms. Norgart’s class of “English literature”. The reason was simple. Ms. Norgart had a 1958 Thunderbird. It seems she knew my schedule and her car needed washing, vacuuming, oil changes, or maybe the tires should be rotated. Often, I would show up for “English Lit” only to be handed the keys of the Thunderbird with a note, one day the note had money and a shopping list.

My Dad had three 2R10 trucks. (actually, we had only Studebakers trucks on the farm) One of them he had purchased because it was a good truck with the rods knocking. He also had a 1951 Commander Landcruiser that had been delegated to third place on the farm because the transmission was going bad and he had purchased a used 1956 Oldsmobile super 88. When he learned of my school schedule he gave me the truck with the bad engine and the engine and transmission from the Commander with the instructions that the commander v8 and Automatic transmission were to be installed in the truck.

It was all very good experience for me. I overhauled the V8 then installed the engine and rebuilt transmission in the truck. This was before Studebaker decided to offer either a V8 or Automatic transmission in their trucks. It was my first experience doing an engine that was not in a farm tractor. I learned to measure, manufacture motor and transmission mounts, as well as cut and weld a driveshaft. I made a floor shifting system for the transmission, crude but it worked. My dad said often that combination really made that truck. He used it often and loved it.

Through the years of raising a family and working toward retirement I often rebuilt engines for others, either for employment of just to help someone keep their Studebaker on the road. The company I worked for made me a territory manager, managing 21 employees. My territory covered Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Many times, while driving I would spot a Studebaker, stop and ask what the owner was going to do with that car or truck. More often than not they would tell me to bring a trailer the next time I came by and I could have the car, truck or pickup, usually with a title. At one time there were over 40 Studebaker cars and trucks in my little 30-acre field and another 20 running Studebakers in the shed. Life goes on and I had to move so an ad was placed in Turning Wheels for a two-day sale. Everything sold except for the 8 running vehicles I kept and one rotted down 63 Daytona 4 doors.

I liked trucks so most of the 8 vehicles kept were trucks for retirement purposes and opportunity. The first one for restoration was for my father-in-law who wanted a 2R6 painted yellow. Then I wanted a short box ¾ ton pickup with a V8 and overdrive. I found a ¾ ton totally rotted champ with V8 and T85 Transmission which was transplanted in a 2R5 worked great.

All 4 of my children have restored Studebakers. One day my wife came to the shop and said, “all the kids have trucks I want that one with an automatic transmission”. She was pointing to a 1954 piece of junk. It had been kept because it was complete and fairly rare. I drove that truck for 16K miles. Drove from New York to Montana to help a friend there bring his equipment up to working order for the season. Then to the International Meet in Springfield, next to Waynesville, NC, then on home to New York. You can read about it in the May 2014, “Turning Wheels”. 6600 miles in a 3R5. You can do the research, I think it was Christmas 2015 the truck was purchased and appeared pictured with a very large red bow as a Christmas gift on the Twitter account of Chelsea Handler, late night comedian.

About that time people were asking for business cards. There were none because this is all hobby for me. Something to do. Not have a great imagination for such things I decided to call my hobby “Studebaker Restorations”. Why not that is what I was doing. It could not be called a business because if I sold a truck I only asked for what I had spent on parts.

After a while people noticed the engines and transmissions I had rebuilt were still running and shifting so they told their friends, and their friends would call.

I determined if this would continue it would be necessary to do more than just overhaul engines. One friend brought me a Studebaker V8 he could not make run smoothly. He did many things to it and still it would vibrate badly especially when accelerating. I traded engines with him and began a rebuild only to find rebuilding would not help, it needed to be remanufactured. The factory machining to the deck was so bad the front cylinders had more compression than the rear cylinders. That was when it became necessary to remanufacture rather than rebuild engines. We now remanufacture them to better than Studebaker did. We take their product and make it better.

Since 1960 I have had only one failure. The recipient of a new engine realized when the rods started knocking that to keep that noise from happening in a new engine one must add oil to the crankcase.

My hobby has remanufactured and shipped engines to 21 states and 4 foreign countries. One man and his wife from Switzerland, visiting their daughter, attending college in NY, stopped by to see their engine in production

You can read an article on this remanufacturing in July 2014 “Turning Wheels”, Why is it so expensive to rebuild a Studebaker engine.

Today my daily driver is a 1960 Champ into which is installed a 5cylinder Mercedes diesel with matching auto transmission, power steering and brakes.