What’s On Your Wish List?

Grease Girl studebaker project hot rod home builtI’ve found that everybody has their own unique approach to building and working-on their car projects. You’ve got factors like money, who’s doing the work, skill level, space to work in, time, end-result, and of course personal organizational style (or lack thereof!)

My 1955 Studebaker Champion is a work-in-progress. Since she’s my daily driver my top goal is to keep her on the road so I’ve got regular maintenance to keep done and of course unexpected events come up too! But that doesn’t rule out my desire to get her into better shape as time goes by.

So with it being the holiday season, I figured this would be a good time to step back and identify what I’d like to get done and what my priorities are for Stude. So I’m not sure whether this is a Christmas wish list or my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions… maybe you’d like to make your own for your project car(or even to work towards getting your very first classic!)

  1. Get a new exhaust system on. The pipes that went on my car were originally shaped for a different model Studebaker. This means I’ve got an ugly exhaust system taking a good 6” under my car’s profile – yuck! It’s also taken a good beating on the asphalt because of that, which has resulted in both mufflers been torn open! Take that and worn out Hooker headers and you’ve got crazy noise and a less-than-healthy exhaust system.
  2. Work on suspension components. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford airbags for my car this year, but there’s some less-costly stuff to get done to my suspension. First of all I can get my rear leaf-springs re-arched which shouldn’t cost much. I also just noticed that my shock-absorbers are shot which is making steering a challenge at times. Combine that with still-original shocks on the front-end (which I think recently lowered a little) and there’s some serious improvements to be made with a minimal amount of work and money.
  3. Add seatbelts. Yep, I’ve been danger-girl driving Stude around LA freeways with no belts. My previous job working on an ambulance taught me that lap-belts alone are sometimes worse than no belts at all…so I just kept them off. But I’ve decided it’s time to do a little something about safety and I’ve found a company that makes custom-colored shoulder belts for classic cars.
  4. Seal her off! Most people probably never think about the rubber trim in their cars. But when you own a car 50+ years old it means the original rubber is dry, cracked, and all worn out. Why does this matter? One word: rain. Rubber helps keep things aligned and quiet too, but what will really bother ya is when water starts dripping down the doors and windows when it rains. I’ve replaced a little of the rubber on the Stude, but the door and back windows need to be done, then I can stop mopping up the accumulated water under my rear-seats after a downpour!
  5. Better my brakes. It’s LA…I drive in a lot of traffic! Stude’s still on original drum brakes, and sometimes I think I add brake-fluid a little too often. If my brakes failed to stop me as good as I needed, I would be one extremely sad girl – I don’t even like thinking about that! So one of my top priorities this year is upgrading to a disc brake system. I’ve got some research to do before putting significant money and time into this super-important part of my car.

Of course I could continue adding to this wish list (bodywork or paint wasn’t even mentioned!), but I think this is a good place for me to start at this year. So be expecting to learn about the above things as I do this coming year! And may 2010 be filled with car adventures and learning of your own!

Happy Trails to one and to all!

9 Responses

  1. ant pam

    It sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy in the coming year. I hope you are able to get it all done, especially the safty issue items!!! I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress.

    Peace and love,
    ant pam

  2. Layne Burrus

    Dear Grease Girl,

    I’m glad I found your blog. You are a very brave woman, driving a Studebaker daily, in L.A.!

    If you are not already a member, I wanted to recommend that you join the Studebaker Drivers Club. Its a good source of parts, and you can associate with other Studebaker enthusiasts. In addition, there are local chapters which meet regularly; I know California has several.

    I can only recommend Turner Brake Systems for your brakes–it uses more modern brake systems for upgrading a Studebaker’s less than ideal braking system. Seat belts are a must, a shoulder harness even better. I suggest radial tires, and wider rims, such as 80’s style Chrysler police rims. Its all about safety versus originality.

    My daily driver was a ’64 Studebaker Commander, for a couple of years until I took it out on an icy morning and had a too-close encounter with a slick bridge. Oops! Common sense must prevail!

    Best wishes,
    Layne in Birmingham, Alabama

    • greasegirl


      Thanks for the info! And I am a new member of the SDC (finally!)…looking forward to hooking up with them more in the future!

      Thankful that there’s not too much ice on SoCal’s roads 😉
      Happy Trails,

  3. Chris

    Hi Kristin –
    I came across your blog last weekend and have since eagerly read your posts.
    I have a passion for both old cars (a 66 Mustang) and rockabilly music (e.g. The Stray Cats).
    The Studebacker looks like a helluva car and I am very looking forward to seeing the project progress in 2010.
    Greetings from Berlin, Germany

  4. Rebekka

    speaking of brakes, would you possibly know how to do a hydrolic brake system flush? My poor van is in serious need of it!

    • greasegirl


      Good question! I haven’t done a system flush yet, but its something I should probably do – as it looks like its recommended to do every 1-2 years. I’m still learning all of the recommended maintenance things to do (my Dad was never very good at staying on top of such things!) For example, I learned this week that I should be changing my transmission fluid about every 15,000 miles (I’m way overdue!)
      For now, I found this site that seems to have helpful advice.
      When I get around to this on my Stude, I’ll do a post. Getting your car to stop is even more important than getting it to go! 🙂

      Happy Trails,

    • greasegirl

      Thanks Mike! I’ll check that out as soon as I get home…as for right now – I’m actually on the Bonneville Salt Flats for Speedweek as I type! 🙂
      Happy Trails,


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