The Ultimate Retro Driving Machine!
Studebaker Coupe Express
Each Hot Rod comes with it’s own distinctive story. Such is the case with the 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express. Designing and manufacturing custom street rods was the dream and obsession of the 39 Studebaker Street Rod originator, Rick Hanson. His love of cars started with his family's dealership and continued through graduation from General Motors Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering. The last twenty years have been spent in the automotive industry waiting for the opportunity to fulfill his dream, building an affordable street rod. Thus was born the 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express.

How many ways are there to successfully customize a classic truck?  One way is to take an old truck, tighten the tolerances, smooth the surfaces, until it’s vintage character shines through. Another way is to modify a basic shape with a bolt on package. A more dramatic approach is to retool the entire original design so that only the most distinctive features of the original style are evident. This is certainly  the case with the Rick Hanson designed 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express. The totally custom "reimagined" body lines and dare-to-be-different theme make this truck a modern and sure to be timeless classic.

In keeping with the designer’s original intent, the most basic buildup of the 39 Studebaker utilized stock components from the Chevy truck, including the frame, the cab, the interior and the drive train. At the most minimal effort, the builder of the 39 Stude would essentially be driving an S-10 pickup with a modified fiberglass body attached to it. Such is the case with much of modern Street Rodding. Today’s affordable Street Rodding is a reality thanks to the creativity of shops like Street Beasts with their 41 Willys, Boyd Coddington’s with their “boydsters” and the Downs 37 ford truck, which incidentally utilizes the Chevy frame as well.

The Body ~ Details
With 1939 Ford tail lights
While it’s true the modern fiberglass Street Rods all have their distinctive signatures, you’ll not likely see any two glass body buildups that look exactly the same. On the early edition  39 Studebaker, the entire front clip was tilt hinged. This was a novel idea in theory but in practice it was impractical. The excessive size and weight meant it was impossible for one person to successfully operate. When the clip was open, it exposed the unfinished substructure of the glass body, which also exposed the headlight , upper grille mounted turn signals and the obtrusive hinge assembly. This in turn made for a rather unsightly motor box and detracted immensely from any custom engine set up that one might wish to highlight.
The Hood modification
On the Terry Taylor build up the front clip has been modified from the original flip front to a conventionally opening hood with billet hinges and corvette remote latch. In his meticulous attention to detail, Taylor created the new hood by cutting it away from the one piece front end assembly along body’s seam line. This led to and allowed for significant modification inside the conventionally created engine compartment. The firewall is filled completely so that no original metal or layout of the chevrolet firewall is evident. The nose cowl is a sheet metal custom fit panel which serves to clean up the front of the box and act as a receiver for the remote hood latch. See detail photos of the engine compartment
HERE. Later model bodies are now being manufactured with a similar conventional opening hood set-up but this extensive modification is an all-original one-off customization: the only 39 Studebaker buildup known to have a set-up of this kind.
39 Studes with the original tilt front end configuration.

The first generation 39 Studebaker bodies featured the tiltfull  front clip. Later versions features a conventional opening hood.
The body is a first edition all fiberglass modified original based on the Hanson designed 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express formerly manufactured by Master Street Rods. The radical style design is accomplished with:

4.5 inch top chop, ( Lowered roofline )
8 inch bed channel, (height cut horizontally)
6 inch front clip channel
4 inch bed section, ( length cut ).
Completely rolled & filled bed

Other custom touches are: enhanced fender profiles, shaved & filled doors, integrated running boards, seamless cab, seamless bed ( all body lines filled ) slightly frenched style headlights, original 1939 Ford glass lens tail lights, mahogany wood bed floor with stainless steel strips, and custom stainless steel laser cut grille.
Compare the 1939 Studebaker and the 1940 Ford original
Nose Job... An additional modification to the original glass is the retooled front end ground clearance. In order to achieve the ideal stance, it was necessary to alter the nose ground clearance by removing  4 inches of the span from the grille box to the ground. This allowed for permanent lowering of the front end without the assistance of bags. The results were dramatic! This modification allowed the use of 2.5 drop spindles, which allowed the 15 inch Weld DFS Draglites and low profile Cooper Cobras to fill up the wheel well - achieving the complete one of a kind custom look.c

Click  HERE to see additional comparison photos of the original nose and the modified nose. ook.
The Tail lights
The original Hanson design for the tail lights are deeply frenched slits that compliment well the overall radical design. Taylor opted instead to utilize surface mounted original 1940 Ford tail lights in order to retain some vestiage of the classic look. This was done by cutting out the original glass assembly and filling in the fender solid. The new surface mounted Ford lights were then added to the smoothed fenders.

HERE to see additional views of the tail light retrofit.
The Colors...
The paint scheme is based on the famous 
Chip Foose designed “RealMad”, the radical 1956 Chevy Nomad; also known as "Mr. Gasket" 

The red / Black combo is a classic vintage look and lends itself well to the retro look of the  Studebaker. The two tone also carries the eye well and minimizes visual disruptions, thereby acheiving the long low, and clean look. The paint is DuPont Hot Hues Blackened and Firecracker
The 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express is no doubt miles from it's originally inspired counterpart. It’s also removed from the pure 50’s traditional customs and from 60’s embellishments. The emphasis here is on enhancing the lines of the truck; maintaining the flavor of the original while modifying every bit of the car to create something genuinely unique.
Ask Away!
Fuel Filler Conversion  An additional modification to the original glass bed is the relocation of the fuel filler access.  Along the way the bed was replaced due to an accident and we took the opportunity to modify the filler location in order to add to the sleek long view of the bed. The new location can be seen in the video on the videos page.

LEFT - Pre fitting of the new bed. We opted not to install the glass cover. This photo was part of a promotional image pack for the one piece ooptional fiberglass cover. 

Note the original fuel door location.