Rock River Valley Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club

Our Charter, Keeping the Studebaker Marque Alive
Welcome to the Rock River Valley Studebaker Drivers Club Website
Last Updated:
July 3rd, 2016
Updated the "Studebaker History - The GT Hawks" Page
July 9th, 2016
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Click on the Globe left to go to the Sub-Site "Articles", if you are interested in automotive trivia and history, else don't bother.



The 1953 Studebaker's Champion has to be considered one of the great overachievers among collector cars.   Distinctive styling, well-made interiors, simple maintenance and repair, an abundant parts supply make the Champ easy and rewarding to live with and they're more affordable than their V-8-powered Commander siblings. Champions shared the new for 53 Commanders graceful styling, which many consider to be one of its greatest attributes.

"The first day you drive your own excitingly Champion, the admiring comments of your friends and neighbors will tell you what a smart buy you have made," Studebaker's 1954 brochure promised. "Those who ask you what you paid for it can scarcely believe that a car this outstanding could cost so little”.


The 53 Champ had a well-deserved reputation for economy, in the 1953 Mobilgas Economy Run, a Champion finished in third place, with an average of 26.86 miles per gallon.  Critics found that the lightweight six also did good things for the car's handling and ride, and praised its precise steering.


All 1953 Champions were powered by Studebaker's own sidevalve straight-six engine, which was rated at 85hp at 4,000 RPM, with 138-lbs.ft. of torque at 2,000 RPM.  The all-cast-iron six had a 3 x 4-inch bore and stroke; 1953 models with manual transmissions had a compression ratio of 7.0:1, A partial-flow oil filter was optional.


This fine example, owned by Ed and Sharon Stevens, is a custom level trim car (the lowest and cheapest trim level available).  It sports the three speed manual transmission with overdrive.   Ed purchased the car partially restored at auction and then finished the frame on restoration in 2015.  Other then the paint and body work, the engine has been rebuilt, and the car completely rewired.


The Classic Car Database indicates this car's initial price would have been $1,606 dollars.  They also indicate that there were 5,494 Custom Champion 4-door sedans manufactured (don't know their source for that information?).   The car weight is 2,695 pounds and it rides on a 116.5 inch wheel base.



The 1955 Chevrolet, is considered a huge turning point for Chevy and a major success.  It was available in three models,150, 210, and Bel Air.

The 55 Chevy was the first successful Chevrolet with an optional V8 engine.  Chevrolet had produced an earlier car with a V8 in 1918 (Chevrolet Series D), which used a 155-horsepower and 288-cubic-inch V8, but remained in production for only a year.   In 1955, Chevrolet decided to fit its new car with an overhead valve V8 engine design, which was similar to the 1949 Oldsmobile "Rocket 88" V8 engine.   The new 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 was designed to be smaller, lighter, and more powerful than previous V8s in the auto industry.   This new small block V8 had the built-in ability to be upgraded.  The small block Chevy V8 became so popular that Chevrolet still sells it today.  Although there have been various changes made to the motor to modernize it, the basic design of the original 265 still remains.

The 1955 Chevrolet also offered many other firsts for Chevrolet, including a 12-volt electrical system. Options like air conditioning, power windows, power seats, power steering and power brakes were available.  Still other options included automatic light dimmers, door handle protectors, bumper protectors and "wonder-bar" radio.  So many new options were available that some referred to the car as "Chevy's little Cadillac." Never before had so many options been offered for a car in the low-price field.

This fine example of the 55 Chevy, is owned by Gale and Irene Downer and is one of a rare few which remain totally stock. No special wheels or chrome for this beauty.   It's a stock Bel Air two door hardtop (Sport Coupe), 265 Cubic-inch {3.75 inch bore by 3.00 inch stroke} V8, making 180 HP with the factory “Power Pack” option {4 barrel carb and duel exhaust}, fitted with a 3-speed Synchromesh manual transmission with overdrive.  New price for the Bel Air V8 model was $2,166 dollars + options making this one list around $2,400.  With current prices for 55 hardtops between 35 and 45 thousand dollars, it seems to have held it's value fairly well.  There were 185,562 hardtop's manufactured for 55, a very good year.

The dash photo shows 63,841 miles, but Gale tells us that the odometer had been replaced and the actual miles are closer to 200,000.  Gale is the 2nd and 4th owner of the car.  It was purchased new somewhere in the South West (built in Kansas City) by a service man who returned home to Iowa and traded the car in at the Cadillac dealer where Gale found it on the used car lot.  At the time he had a 54 Oldsmobile which the wife had tangled with the mail box.  Gale said it took all day to trade the Olds for the Chevy for $330 to boot.  In 1964 Gale sold the car to a friend with the understanding that if he ever sold it, it would be back to Gale.  In 1976 that is exactly what happened, making Gale the 4th and final owner (so far).  It has been painted three times and other minor restorations have been preformed, but as surprising as it might be all the original metal is still intact, nothing has ever rusted out.   Gale says “if the car could talk", what a marvelous story it would have to tell”.

The club meets the first Monday of every month, unless that date is a holiday, then the meeting is on the next Monday.
Date of Next Meeting:
Meeting Dates for 2016
January 4th, 2016
February 1st, 2016
March 7th, 2016
April 4th, 2016
May 2nd, 2016
June 6th, 2016
July 11th, 2016
August 1st, 2016
September 12th, 2016
October 3rd, 2016
November 7th, 2016
December 5th, 2016

Location:  Stockholm Inn, 2420 Charles Street, Rockford IL

Time:  Dinner at  5:30 P.M. Meeting starts at 7:00 P.M




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