The Ultimate Retro Driving Machine!
The Suspension, Stance, & Wheels
Studebaker Coupe Express
It's all about the stance
When building a custom ride, there are three critical elements to making a custom pro street touring ride look just right. These elements are the wheel & tire combination, the paint, and the stance.
if one of these three elements does not equally contribute to the overall visual package of the truck, it just doesn't work. The stance is no doubt one of the most important visual accomplishments of the street rod. It sets the tone for the overall look of the vehicle. The primary goal for the Studebaker was  to maximize the overall clean visual of the eye line by minimizing how much “bulk” of the wheel/tire combination would be seen. The combination had to be plenty big but partially hidden as well. To best accomplish this, we needed to fill up the wheel wells as much as possible without requiring their modification and get the body to ”cover” as much of the wheel/tire combo as possible without affecting the clearances, radius, or sacrificing the ride.

The only clearance affected was the nose and this was the only body modification that was necessary. To accomplish the body drop, 4 inches was cut of the lower front of the nose. See details on the "
Body" page.

Introducing the truck to the pavement was a certianty. The only question would be what method to use. A considered method was to use bags… While this would have allowed the use of 18's or 20's the inherent problems of a flexible system for a driver truck didn’t seem to be the answer. I preferred a fixed system that does not rely on a proper setting depending on whether I was driving or parked. Doing it the old fashioned way is a little more exacting but it yields a consistent result.

Success by design…
To achieve the long clean look, the body style requires a gentle rake to the stance. To build this body style any other way would be to fail goal of achieving a long, smooth, uninterrupted visual. The exaggerated fender wells dictate and allow for a huge setup for the rear. This is a perfect starting point in creation of the overall look. (max out the rear combination and gently reduce the rake towards the front wheels). It was also necessary to balance the view in terms of how much of the combo would be out of sight. In the finished result, the uppermost edge of each wheel is completely tucked away nicely.  

To achieve the desired stance, there are thousands of possible combinations that could work with the MSR Studebaker. The profile of the tires is a big part of the equation. The rear wheel well is pretty big so it calls for a beefy tire to fill it up. It’s also tall so the combination has a nice high range to disappear into. The front well is physically smaller in terms of overall edge to edge length which makes for an easy transition from large format rear to the smaller format front. This is part of the style charm of this highly modified body as it lends itself to the vintage roadster look very well.  

The Wheels have to be just right!
I recall back in the late 70’s when I built my very first “street rod” there were just so many wheel choices available. I used the western wheels chrome wagon style for my showstopper pickup, a 76 Datsun 620 Longbed. With thousands of styles out there today, one of my favorites is the Cragar style five spoke traditional “mag”. While I like this style, it looked a little too dated and the modern versions seemed to be too flashy.
The wheel & tire combination undoubtedly makes the greatest impact on the truck's overall presentation. As fashion changes with the season so do wheels. Since the vintage truck look is being implemented into the newer generation we are seeing newer, late model wheel designs that simply don’t compliment old school trucks.  You also have old school designs being implemented into new style forms such as classic five spokes, slots, and kidney beans… all being made in 17, 18 & 20 inch. It’s not the size diameter that makes the wheel, it’s the style. Mixing a large late model custom wheels with an early model classic truck is like mixing oil and water – they just don’t mix.
I knew I needed to emphasize the clean classic vintage look while minimizing the appearance of modern flash. The solution was the classic Draglite series from WELD. Their two piece forged polished alloy does the trick.

The recipe for the look…
Here is the combination that best suits the original objectives:

Wheels: DFS Draglite
Front – 15 X 7 with 3.5 inch backspacing
Rear  – 15 X 8 with 3.5 inch backspacing

Tires: Cooper  Cobra
Front –  P205/60 R15
Rear  –  P275/60 R15

Suspension modifications:
Front – 2.5 inch drop spindles
Rear  – 3 inch blocks with one leaf removed

Mission accomplished
The result is a nice low slung pro stock look that rides smooth at top speed and handles well in all circumstances… with only minor cautions. The front tends to be a little soft in the travel, likely due to the low profile of the tires. The radius is 100% range functional. There are no problems from the rear setup, no bounce, and no clearance issues.

Serving up the single most appealing aspect of this truck is how well the stance adds to the overall design goal... Long, low, smooth, and simple.