Rutledge Racing Enterprises

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1955 Pro Street Studebaker Commander

"Humble Beginnings"

Studebaker Beginnings

"I paid $900.00 for this piece of junk!
But...I had a vision..."

1955 Studebaker

this is the result...

Studebaker at Piedmont

I bought this car in the fall of 1990 from Jerry Wentz in Danville, Va. It had been sitting in his junk yard under a pine tree for over 12 years and the funny part of it was that he had gotten the car from Rustburg, Va and carried it to Danville, Va., then 12 years later I was living in Rustburg mail district and went to Danville and brought it back to Rustburg. That car had come full circle!

This car started out to be a "low buck" Pro Streeter but after the top got chopped that all changed. I expect Iíve spent around $40,000 in this car to get it to where it was in its hay day! The specifications that are listed below are what the car was when these pictures were taken. Oh, and the original engine out of that car is on the engine stand just behind me! ;-)

The chassis for this car came from Chassisworks on the West Coast. It was a "kit" that they pre bent all the tubes for, etc so when I went to assemble it most of that work was already done. With a friends help, we had a rolling frame in less than 15 hours! That was pretty good since the Camaro I built took me about 6 months to get to that point. The front has tubular A arms from Chassisworks with their Econo Coil overs all around. Spindles are Mustang II with an Wilwood Pinto clone rack for steering. The wheel base on the car was shortened 10 inches and the engine was set back 10 inches also. When the car was finished, 54% of the total weight was on the rear tires.

Out back there was another Herb McCandless Dana 60 rear with a ĺ ton posi and a 5:13 Richmond gear. Moser axles finished that end out. The driveshaft was fitted with 1350 Spicer joints and NONE have been replaced to date. I broke the spider gears in the posi unit back in 1998 and replaced it with a spool. Yes the car is street driven and the addition of the spool didnít have that much of an effect on drivability.

The tranny is another PowerGlide I built myself with a TCI 1:96 low and that GER converter I mentioned in the 68 Camaro write up. That converter only lasted about 15 miles and took another transmission with it when it went south. I was not a happy camper. So, I then went to TCI and bought a 9 inch nitrous converter. Yeah, it has a NOS Cheater system on it but it wasnít used with that GER junk. Anyway, the tranny has a TCI/Perry shifter with a Dixie Air Shifter that is RPM activated by the MSD ignition.

Wheels are Weld Pro Stars all around with 15x3.5s up front and 15x15s out back. Street tires are M/T 21.50s on the rear and Michelin 165 SRx15 Z rated up front. Over the years Iíve run Hoosiers, M/Ts and Goodyears on the rear with not much difference except the M/T DOT streets, which were crap. They worked well on the street but not at the track.

The engine started out as a 400 GM block with all 5 main caps replaced with steel ones and the three in the center are 4 bolt. A NASCAR shop out in Western North Carolina did that work. Crank is a Cola 4Ē stroke along with a set of Carrillo rods. BME pistons with a full .100 DISH make the compression low enough to run pump gas. The cam is a Comp 268*/272* with .660 lift in at 106*. Heads are Brodix Track 1s with a mild port job. Intake is a Holley Pro Dominator with dual alky 750s by George Rupert or either a pair of out of the box 750 HPs, depending on what I want to run. An 8 quart Milodon pan, BBC oil pump and pickup along with a remote dual oil filter setup complete the oiling system. Hooker headers with 3 inch Super Trapp mufflers complete the exhaust. The second and most reliable of the engines built for this car is a Bowtie block built very much as the original 400 GM block. I used the same heads, cam, intake and carbs, etc on the Bowtie and ran that in the car until I stopped racing it about 7 years ago. That engine was the quicker of the two.

The car has a full set of Autometer gauges including in dash speedometer and tach. Right now it has just a little over 6k miles on it. The interior has full carpet along with sound deadening insulation all around. Both the race seats have custom seat covers with the Studebaker name embrodried in the head rest area. Also in the dash is a Craig Pioneer tape deck that feeds two amps, one in the truck and another under the dash for 300 watts of stereo power. 6 speakers, including two Bose in the rear make up the sound system. The car has heat and A/C also but I did leave the cruise control off. Yeah, I did buy one for it, just never installed it!! The last item on the dash is a Dedenbear Reaction Time Delay box that is used for racing.

The ignition system is all MSD with a 7AL-2 with a Pro Power coil, MSD Crank Trigger, MSD Billet distributor, an RPM activated shift, two setp and also a timing retard for the NOS system. An overhead Switch panel from Chassisworks finishes out the interior. Oh, and there is NO back seat! No room for it with the engine setback and the shorter wheel base!

I completed the first stage of this car and first drove it in January of 1992. I didnít start racing it until several years later after I got tired of the show circuit stuff. Even after I started racing it we still went to the occasional cruise in at the local mall though. One particular cruise in stands out as we were testing the car at Virginia Motorsports Park earlier in the day then went to the cruise in that night after running 10.09 @ 137 on a 150HP high gear shot in DOT trim. I unloaded it out of the trailer and drove it to the mall that night. That was fun! Later on in 1998 the car ran 10.09 @ 134 at Super Chevy in Rockingham, NC on motor alone on alcohol.

In 1996 I went to my second Super Chevy meet at VMSP and that same weekend Faye and I were married there. In Sunday eliminations we went to the quarter finals loosing to the guy that won it and on top of that, we got our picture in Super Chevy magazine. That was a very good weekend as we made enough at the race to pay for the trip!

Well, the rest is history as they say. I still own this car but havenít raced it for a number of years now.

Studebaker at Rockingham

Studebaker at Summerduck

Super Chevy Wedding >>