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A 1956 Studebaker Hauler—Owner Built and Chevy Powered

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 8/15/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
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"Why a Studebaker, you ask?" Kenny Kirby explained that he built this pickup simply because "it is a neat body style and it's not another Ford or Chevy." He appreciates Bow Ties and Blue Ovals, he says, but he thinks Studes are cooler. Check out his 1956 Studebaker C-Cab and decide whether or not you agree.

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Kenny, a retired city worker in Howell, Michigan, didn't have to look far for the truck. He saw it in his brother's house about five years ago. "I just had to have it for a project, because it was cool, even ripped apart," he told us.

He has the factory production order and knows a little bit of the truck's history. It was built with one option, electric windshield wipers, and was shipped to Fort Bragg, California, in May 1956. Approximately, fifty-one years later, it went to Columbus, Ohio. By 2013, it was in Saginaw, Michigan, where Kenny's brother found it.

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The truck was built to its current condition in the small pole barn that is Kenny's garage. Friends helped with bodywork and paint, but for the most part, it's an owner-built project.

Power is provided by a 383 Chevy stroker engine. The tri-power carburetor set-up sits on top of an Edelbrock intake manifold. Dart Pro 1 aluminum cylinder heads are topped with finned Corvette valve covers. The small-block is backed up by a Phoenix Transmission Products TH700R4 transmission.

The factory sheetmetal was patina'd but mostly intact. It was repaired and prepped for paint, the sprayed with House Of Kolor Sunrise Pearl. The bed floor was built from red oak and stainless steel, raised to cover the fuel tank, and fitted with a homemade luggage trunk. The fenders are filled with 15-inch Cragar Soft 8 wheels. The chrome wheels were recently highlights with low-key red stripings. Cooper Cobra tires measure 235/60R15 and 255/70R15 for a proper street rod footprint. SSBC disc brakes at all four corners get the Studebaker stopped.

On the inside, the Studebaker logo was stitched in the black and dark red upholstery covering the bench seat. The logo is also lettered on the faces of the Speed Hut GPS gauges and the steering wheel features a Stude horn button. Kenny topped the Lokar shifter with a baseball. On hot days, he raises the Specialty Power Windows door glass and activates the Vintage Air A/C.

Tranforming the 1956 Studebaker from rough stuff into a nice daily driver was a 3-year job--not counting all the custom tweaks Kenny is still making to the truck.

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