MAY 3, 2012 STAR TRUCKIN’: 1950 STUDEBAKER TRUCK-MAKING A 100% STUDEBAKER RESTO-MOD WORK

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Dave Abma is a hardcore Studebaker guy.

 

He owned one when he was a teenager and he currently owns two of them. He respects the history behind this beloved company and he respects the cult-like Studebaker following.

 

He also knows the inherent limitations in a 62-year-old farm truck.

 

Trucks were very basic work machines back in 1950 so the creature comforts were limited to a roll-down side window. The windshield is even basic – 2 flat pieces of glass.

 

2012 trucks have hot and cold leather seats, climate control, GPS, satellite radio coupled with smooth power that could pull the Statue of Liberty over and a ride that would make the ride of a ’59 Caddy seem like a buckboard in comparison.

 

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The closest a 1950 Studebaker truck comes to a 2012 Ram is 4 wheels and a round steering wheel but Dave wanted to close the gap a little under the hood. Heresy is a strong word but that’s how Dave’s brothers of the Studebaker would view a small block Chevy under the hood.

 

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The solution was obvious.

 

Dave had a Studebaker Lark V-8 in his garage coupled to an automatic transmission and that was the answer to the resto-mod on the old truck. Studie guys couldn’t argue with a swap like that because this truck would still be 100% Studebaker. Clearly he found a loophole with all but the purists.

 

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Dave’s biggest concern was that he didn’t want to be the guy driving an old truck at the front of a big line of cars full of extremely angry people. These old farm trucks will pull a stump out of the ground with ease but they start screaming at 50 miles per hour. That’s not viable in today’s traffic where cars are loafing at 75 miles per hour.

 

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Dave reported that “it clips along pretty good now but it’s a little noisy because of the engine”. The days of hauling bales around a farm are long past for this old workhorse now that it can hit the highway.

 

Back on the farm in the early 1950s, the truck didn’t need luxuries like turn signals but in today’s world they are simply not optional. Dave solved that problem with a trip to a local car museum. He found an old conversion kit that was still in the package so suddenly the old Studebaker truck became a functional vehicle with working signal lights.

 

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Dave also added to the safety package when he installed some seat belts from an old Buick. That was his only non-Studebaker modification on the truck because he does spend time on the mean streets in modern traffic so the Studebaker guys even understand that non-stock, non Studebaker modification.

 

He also upgraded the wheels on the truck because a guy needed some decent stock wheels at a swap so Dave obliged and added these custom wheels to the truck. Studebaker guys are more ambivalent on the issue.

 

This truck was a serious project for Dave and the proof is found in the truck bed. The formerly all-metal floor is now a beautiful all-wood show piece thanks to his skill with a Skil Saw blade.

 

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Dave truly enjoys time behind the wheel of this Studebaker truck but it does come with a price. He does own that other Studebaker (car) and there’s a mental tug of war between the truck and car every time he hits the road but either way he’s a winner on the road.

 

The choice is really easy if he needs to haul a load because this 62-year-old workhorse is still up to the task.

Jerry Sutherland

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