1963 Daytona Wagonaire
This 1963 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire was a daily driver for long time SDC member Jerry Blount and later it was owned by Bruce Kerslake. Bruce had the car painted, running and some new exhaust pipes that were in the back when we bought the car, but he had another Wagonaire in better shape so he sold us this one.
The project goal had 1 winter and spring to fix it up with the goal of having it a fun daily driver and reliable enough in time for the Pacific Northwest Overdrive Tour on Vancouver Island.
The original Regal Red color was nice, however we once had a 63 with a red interior that I preferred rather than tan in this one (since it needed to be redone) and we already had a nice red 63 Dash to replace the cracking dash with.
Cleaning out the car, there was some shag carpet and a couple mouse nests under the seats.
Moisture seemed to have entered the car so it needed everything gutted, wire brushed and coated with POR15. The firewall, ceiling, floor, inside doors and even inside the tailgate got sealed with por15.
The heater core and fan motor were rusted solid, so new ones were needed. The new dual exhaust pipes and mufflers got installed.
The car was converted to 4 speed transmission by Jerry Blount from a bench seat Cruiser, so while the steering column and steering wheel was removed for painting, the steering shift collar got changed.
The gauges were disassembled and redone, then installed with the new dash.
The reclining seat mechanisms were broken, so after repairing them, they were reupholstered.
NOS door panels, kick panels and rear panels were purchased.
The sliding roof leaked with bad seals, so it was removed.
There are interior side trays that catch any sliding roof leaking water and direct it out front and back rubber drain tubes (if they aren’t plugged). The trays are held on by 18 bolts and 17 of them snapped off because they were rusted. The long rusted trays required a long 6’ diameter PVC tub capped and filled with 3 gallons of EvapoRust to soak them and repaint. The paint on the sliding roof was bad, the front corners were rusted out and rollers weren’t working, so it needed lots of attention. I found a match to the original Regal Red paint available in spray cans with Rustolium paint, also called Regal Red!
Sliding Roof Issues:
The original early sliding roof seals had leaking problems and were replaced with the newer style seals that Studebaker came out with (no leaks).
The drain tubes need to be kept clean so they don’t plug (occasional shot of air to confirm). Went with a slightly larger inner diameter tubing (it's thin material so outer diameter is same) using lawn mower fuel line and hose clamps.
The rear drain lines end inside the rear quarter panel directly above the bare metal curvature, so Wagonaire quarter panels rust easily. The problem is now solved buy drilling a hole in bottom and running a few inches longer tubing out the bottom (and I coated inside quarters with por 15).
Heater hoses, fuel lines, new water pump, new fuel pump and radiator flush, gear oil, tune up, filters, belts, hoses, tires, etc were all simple basic needs to be reliable.
The parking lights leaked and were rusted so they got replaced along with new tail lights and a few missing trim pieces.
Once the carpet and seats were installed it started looking pretty good!
Removing the window lift mechanisms to make them work isn’t fun, but a good time to clean out inside the doors, coat them and install new rollers and cat whiskers.
The inner right door panel was rusted around the crank handle and the handle/ lift mount ripped right off !
Without replacing the door, or damaging the paint, I had to come up with a quick solution so the car would get done in time for the tour.
I had another door and a plasma cutter, so I cut out the bad area and used it to cut the good one out slightly larger in same location. That allowed me to use rivets and JB weld to make a strong replacement that worked easily.
Wagonaires can be Loud Noisy Echo Chambers:
Studebaker door panels also warp after the thin paper vapor barrier falls off. The solution? A sound insulation and vapor barrier that’s easy and not expensive like insulation sold for car restorations.
Insulation at hardware stores sold to wrap home heat ducts is a thin foil backed self-sticking rubberized roll that’s easy to trim. It’s inexpensive and fits recessed openings behind door panels and inside tailgate panels (a huge difference in noise level and no warping door panels!).
Ceiling noise and heat is easily controlled by spray gluing light weight bubble foil insulation to the ceiling.
The night before we were to head out to the NW Overdrive Tour, we were still adding seat belts, a different carburetor and still had not test driven the car but a couple miles!
We drove the car and it ran great, but found it was 2 quarts low on oil by the time we got to the host hotel. The engine had a bad front seal, so we had to acquire extra oil for the remainder of trip.
The challenge of getting it done and fulfilling the reliability test was met and had a great trip, however just after returning from the Island on the Ferry you have to go through US Customs line and suddenly the car started stalling then wouldn’t start! Embarrassing to be stalled holding up a line of cars, but several people helped push it up to the customs booth.
I figured it was either vapor locking, or the new fuel pump stopped working, so I asked the customs agent to let me use the covered table where they search cars, for 20 minutes while it cools down. Luckily another Studebaker driver Kenny Durkee stopped to help and after disconnecting the fuel line from pump while cranking (no gas), disconnecting it before pump (able to get gas) and luckily I had another spare fuel pump with some tools.
When the Customs Agent asked if he should get a tow truck and I said I could change the pump in 15 minutes he didn’t believe it and was shocked and amazed when we drove off less than 15 minutes later and made it home fine.
The OLD Studebaker was totally reliable. The NEW fuel pump was not reliable!
We'll continue to add more improvements, repairs and miles-of-smiles with this Wagonaire.
We thank Bruce (rest in peace) and Sue for letting us be the caretaker of this unique Studebaker.