Better Luck This Time! Fer Sher!

May 25, 2017

So in Last Year’s Great Race, our ’32 Buick suffered engine death just two days before the start, WAAAY over in California (coulda been worse – like ALASKA, maybe: as I live in New York, the OTHER coast, far away…). Sooo… regular readers will recall we bought Sven Skveelar, the Emergency Volvo (1964), and ran Great Race 2016 that way. And it worked.
Well, never one to leave well enough alone (and not thrilled with the comfort or speed level afforded by Sven); we have acquired a new and unusual ride for this year: a 1954 Studebaker Commander LandCruiser. For those of you not born long ago, that is NOT a Toyota SUV. It’s a car, a top of the line sedan with a little 233 cubic inch V-8 (a small block before THE small block!). And it comes with a weird overdrive (more on that in another post). These were made in South Bend, Indiana, so I’ve named the car ‘Bender’ and not least because it resembles another Bender (robot on TV show Futurama, familiar if you were not born TOO long ago…).

With Dale Kasson as navigator, we ran a proof of principle last weekend in the Northeast Rally Club’s Penn-York weekend rally. With an Ace each day, we placed in the top third. Not bad. This might just work.

Look out, you other 149 Great Race teams, we’re coming! See ya in JAX!

19 comments about “Better Luck This Time! Fer Sher!”

  • Enjoyed seeing you and the Stude at the NE Rally! Good luck in the Great Race!
    Jim Caudle, navigator Car #58

  • Is the actual route a secret or not public knowledge? I live in Nashville Ga and would like to take pictures as you go through here on the way to your first overnight.

    • Well, it’s known to somebody, but not to us participants. We know the cities we’ll be in each lunch stop and night, but not how we get from place to place. That is, after all, the point of the event: to follow directions precisely! Please come see us at a stop.

  • If you need studebaker part’s while coming through Tifton let me know.
    I wouldn’t mind running to Gainesville and bringing them back to support a studebaker finishing the race! Web sites below for parts. My email is attached but my cell is (229) 392-0376

    • Thanks! You never know what might be needed. Emails are not posted with comments, but I got your phone #.

  • I’ve always wanted to do this race. I have a 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona convertible with a six and overdrive. I fear my little six might be too much of a handicap on the hills and the straightaways though. Good Luck from the MO/IL Gateway Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club Inc.!

  • Your overdrive is hardly “weird.” It is the well-known, time-tested, and proven Borg-Warner overdrive that was offered in many makes during the 40’s and 50’s. They worked well then and continue to do so . . . as long as you have a good solenoid. It is probably the most reliable overdrive setup of all time, very efficient and fuel-conserving. It helped put Studebaker at the top of several Mobilgas Economy Runs back in the day. At .7 of your 4.10 axle ratio, it yields a final drive gear of 2.87 for excellent fuel economy and will kick back down to the 4.10 any time you want to hit the gas for “passing gear.” It is a very desirable feature for a ’54 Studebaker with the smallish 232 V-8. That itself is a great engine, very durable and under-stressed and with the same main bearing area as the much larger contemporaneous Cadillac V-8. It may weep a little oil on your garage floor (they leaked more than they burned) but that says more about seals technology of the day than it does about the stoutness of the engine. It is a robust little dynamo with a heart of gold. All that, plus cheap at the gas pump. Good luck on your run!

    • Thanks! I like it, it’s just weird (unfamiliar) to me. I think my axle ratio is actually 4.55 (according to the factory manual, that’s standard for Commanders with overdrive transmissions). I will still need to turn it off for the lower-speed portions, though.

      • Yes, your axle is 4.56, that was a standard at Studebaker for years with the od set up.
        It went to a 3.54 with the 259 engine debut. The engine specs’s is actually a 232.6
        I have owned 7 Stuebakers in my lifetime, I still own to of theV8’S.
        It should do a good showing. Good Luck!!

    • Great Muppets, Great Movie, Grand song, Lovely ‘baker! And one of my favor pun bits (the Fork in the Road, “Bear Left!” “Yes and Frog right, but which way do I go?”).

  • My dad is the driver in car 29. He didn’t participate last year, but we followed closely and enjoyed reading every one of your posts. I am in CA, but I will be following both of your cars in the 2017 Great Race.

  • Great looking Stude. Do you think the incoming weather will adversely affect the race. I hope not. My wife and I are driving from EastTx to watch you come in to Tifton Ga. Good luck.

  • The very best of skill, opportunity and just a tad of luck to you guys and Bender.
    As Charles Lindbergh may have said, Here we go again!

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