Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Performance Studebakering

In my last post, I mentioned the possibility of getting a set of American Racing Mags to put on my car since the original wheels no longer fit. This led to a comment from my good buddy Jon about how my car, although beautiful, was my "grandfather's middle-age crisis car" and that AR Mags belonged on cars such as a GTO.

Such a comment demands a response.

Although my car came with a simple 6 cylinder, a 120-hp, 232 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 was available. But for a little extra kick in the pants, Bill Frick, a New York car dealer, offered the 53 with a 210 horsepower Cadillac engine. The car, known as a Studillac, was available for $1,500 over dealer invoice. Better brakes and a one-piece drive shaft were welcome additions, and the car car was no slouch, with 0-60 in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 120mph.

And, after a slight cosmetic remodel (with the additional of fiberglass fins and a new hood and grill), the 53 Studebaker coupes turned into the Hawk. The top of the line '56 Golden Hawk had a Packard 352 cubic inch V-8 (Studebaker and Packard had merged that year) with a top speed of 130mph and 0-60 times of about 8 seconds. That's pretty good performance for 1956. The Packard V-8 was a heavy lump of an engine (725 lbs) so the next year it was swapped out with a supercharged Studebaker 289 cubic inch V-8, yielding the same performance as the larger engine but with considerable weight savings. 

Not your Grandfather's mid-life crisis supercharged engine!
But it wasn't just the Studebaker factory producing hot rods based off of that sleek old coupe body. Hot rodders recognized the streamlined body as a true racer, and off to the Bonneville Salt Flats it went--and still races at speeds well in excess of 200mph. I quote from Bridges' Studebaker's Finest:

"Over the entire history of the Bonneville Speed Trials, no other car body has accumulated as many records in production car classes as the '53-54 Studebaker coupe. (Not even close.)"

Read all about this Studebaker here.
 Hmm, Jon. I'm thinking maybe the GTO better think about if it is the one worthy of wearing those AR shoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment