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RainierHooker's '52 Champion - A Survivor Daily-Driver

Guest RainierHooker

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Guest RainierHooker

So, we kind of had an Abort-Start with the last car that we got to be the misses' Daily-Driver (a '62 Chevy II that had way more wrong with it than we knew before we took it apart). So this time around, we started looking for the most bang for our buck, while still remaining true to form. No Hyundais here. I think we may have succeeded in spades...


What you see is a nearly 100% Original, one-owner, 1952 Champion Regal Sedan. It was bought new by a filbert farmer in Newberg, Oregon and used as 'the farm truck' until the old codger keeled over at 93. Even three of the four tires appear to be original to the car, and the last new set of plates that the car ever had, from 1956, were in the trunk. Having grown up in a Studebaker family (Dad always had one in the driveway) I had to check this car out, and I sealed the deal on the car after driving two hours to look it over after work a few days ago. I pick it up this week.

The car is remarkably well preserved. The only apparent rust is some small spotting in the driver's side floor, the area below the trunk latch in the trunk floor, and a few pin-holes in the spare-tire-well. Plans for now include replacing the trunk floor and the driver's side floor panel, a re-upholstery job using as much NOS as able, but only as necessary, tires and a thorough brake and engine tune on the still running, 54K-original-mile drivetrain. Then we're gonna drive the heck out of it. If the paint turns out to be salavgeable, which I think it is, I'm gonna leave it alone with that off-the-farm, time-capsule-patina. The door-jambs and under-hood paint is next to gorgeous.

Here's the last of the pics I have at the moment...






More to follow once I pick it up and work to return this car to the road commences...

Edited by RainierHooker
Re-Hosted Pics (see edit history)
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Guest RainierHooker

Well, we went and picked up the Stew last night. A few snafu's along the way delayed the trip plenty, but now the car is in the shop of JS Customs for a little work.

We are going to knock off all the rust, first thing. A whole new trunk floor, and a little but of patch-work in the floors are all the car really needs.

After that, she'll return to my garage for all new brakes and fixing the few little mechanical issues with the car, and then its onto cosmetics. Firestone Wide-Whites showed up while we were on the road yesterday. I'm still looking for solutions to the interior problems, but this thing should be on the road in no time (I say that now).

I'll post better pictures of the car once I get them resized and uploaded...

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Guest RainierHooker

As promissed here's more, and better pics of the car and yesterday's escapades, at least before the decent weather turned dark and stormy...






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Guest RainierHooker

As I said earlier, the car is at the shop of JS Customs, and it has already had the seats and 'carpet' pulled out to assess what's still there. Frankly, the floors are as good as I could have expected, they are still at least 90% in tact!

Jerry should have the car back to me within a week or so with the few patches needed. Until then I just have to keep myself from getting too silly thinking about accessories, and all that other 'un-important' stuff, and keep my mind on track with the more mundane things like brakes and wiring...

In any rate, I headed out to pull the wheels and tires off the car so I can clean up the wheels and mount my new Firestones over the weekend.

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Guest RainierHooker

So the Stew came home last night, in nearly perfect weather, downpour and all. While treated well for the first time in a long time by Jerry at JS Customs, she put up a few shenanigins. Both front brakes locked up while backing out of the garage and toward the trailer. Apparently its scared of the trailered life. We had to remove the bumper to get it in Jerry's enclosed trailer.

In any rate, the car is home now and should start being happy living the un-neglected life. Here it is with in its new home, with its new tires, and with its new stable-mate...




As for what had to be done for sheet metal, only two tiny patches had to be made for the front floor boards, one on the left, and one on the right. Essentially a whole new trunk floor from about halfway-back had to be fabricated and put in. The spare tire well will be replaced once its replacement comes in the mail. Here's pics of the floor work...




...I forgot to take pics of the trunk, but I'll get around to it.

And to bring us up to date, I was going to start digging into the front brake problem, but kinda got side-tracked by an excavation job...


...literally every single piece of the front suspension was caked with clay and mud anywhere from a 1/4 to 3/4 inches thick. I think before we try to fix anything a deep clean is in order.

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Guest RainierHooker

I wondered about that too. At first I thought, "wow, those A-Arms are really thick and overbuilt." Then, I came to the realization that, no, that was just a few layers of clay...

Actually, the clay seems to have preserved the parts underneath fairly well. Its almost like the car was mumified in preservative mud. The thing is, its getting tiresome chipping it all away to reveal the mummy inside. I just spent two more hours on my wheel-well-archeology before giving up for the warm house and a cold beer.

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I like the Strudebakers stable mate. Of course, the stude will do.;). Truth be told, I had a ,52 Starlight Coupe back in ,57. Thought a lot of it, but overworked the poor thing. Good luck with it.



That thing probably has the hill holder feature. Mine did. Foot on the breaks, clutch depressed, let off the break and it holds until clutch is released. Could this be causing the breaks to be locked up?? Just a thought.

Edited by First Born (see edit history)
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Guest RainierHooker

Good call on the hill-holder. I was just thinking about that too. Turns out that the clutch pedal is missing the return spring, so while it appears up, it really isn't all the way. I'll see if I can get her to budge with some pedal manipulation.

Regardless of whether that's the culprit or not, since I've got the thing sitting on jack-stands, and I already took a peak inside the drums, I'm gonna rebuild the wheel cylinders and repack the bearings tomorrow...

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest RainierHooker

Well, turns out that it wasn't the hill holder. Both front brake cylinders were siezed. I have two new ones on order, along with a whole bunch of other parts. In the meantime, the clean-up has been consuming us. The interior is now completely stripped and we have taken to scrubbing every nook and cranny. We even found a few filbert shells behind the back seat, confirming this car's original home to be that old codger's filbert orchard. We have some NOS seat covers coming and I'm waiting on some other samples to come in before we're ready to start reassembly of the interior. When it comes time though, pictures of progress will be forthcoming.

Looks like we are going to need trunk hinges, both are cracked and bent pretty badly, and the pair that I pulled off of a '51 commander in a nearby yard weren't any better. I did get an NOS righthand hinge ordered, but a left might be a problem. I might just have to take what I have down to a fabrication shop and have something made, if I can't find a good original that is.

Over the weekend I replaced the heater core in one of my other, off topic, cars. Then it started to pour and I retreated inside. Since I'm holed-up and still waiting for parts, I thought that maybe you'd like to see some of the car's ephemera...

Here's a stack of papers, a swatch of the upholstery, and one of the few filbert shells that came with the car:


The Original Invoice:


The Thank You Letter from the Dealer to the Original Owner:


And the Original Warranty and Service Pamphlet:



Oh, and today my NOS seat covers came in. I'm going to have to re-pad the seats still (that sould be obvious), but I couldn't help but go for a "trial fit"...


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Guest RainierHooker

I came home today to three packages waiting at the door. The parts have finally started to arrive! Work will commence this weekend...


(I know it doesn't look like much, but the numbers on the invoices sure do!)

Also, here is my NOS right hand trunk hinge. I still need the mirror image of this:



If you have one please let me know. It doesn't have to be NOS, just not cracked or bent-up like the ones that came with the car, or the car that I have been robbing at the yard.

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