Looking Back: 1955 Studebaker E Series V-8

Looking Back: 1955 Studebaker E Series V-8
Photos by Mark Williams

We stumbled across this classic 1955 Studebaker E Series V-8 half-ton pickup in Ann Arbor, Mich., on display at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show earlier this month. It's been meticulously restored by owner Ron Cripe.

Studebaker's E Series trucks were inaugurated in 1955. There was the 2E in 1956, 3E in 1957-58 and so on until the 8E models marked the last Studebaker pickups that were sold in 1964. Styling was a mix of carried-over sheet metal from the 1949-53 2R Series and 1954 3R Series.


According to Cripe, 1955 was also the first year an eight-cylinder engine option was available for  Studebaker's lightest hauler. The180-horsepower, 259-cubic-inch (4.2-liter)  V-8 was paired with a four-speed manual transmission. A six-cylinder was the standard engine.

Cripe's truck is optioned with a heavy-duty rear suspension, which features a remarkable 11 leaf springs in each spring pack. Today's Ford F-150 half-ton has only three leaf springs. Also noteworthy, the leaf springs are held in place below the rear live axle instead of resting above the axle, like today's trucks.

259 ci V-8

Rear axle and leaf spring suspension


Got to love those classics.

That is one beaut of a truck.

The first brand new truck my grandfather ever bought was a Studebaker dump truck. The child of a poor Italian immigrant, he made some money digging cellars by hand and took out a loan, from the bank my grandmother worked at, for the rest of the $5,000 needed to buy it. When he made enough money doing odd jobs with that truck, he bought a small bulldozer that he made a ramp for (so he could put it in the bed of the truck to move it from job to job).

From those humble beginnings he eventually built up a multi-million dollar underground utilities business. He passed away in 1989, and the Studebaker had long since been sold for scrap....but, even with both of them gone, the story of his little piece of the American Dream lives one.

Just from a statics standpoint, this makes me cringe:

"Also noteworthy, the rear live axle rests above the leaf springs instead of below, like today's trucks."

"Rests" is the misleading word. True on modern trucks that the leaf springs rest on top of the axle (normal force). But in this case, nothing is resting on anything. The U-bolts are holding the springs to the bottom of the axle. Should the U-bolts be removed, nothing will be resting until (a) the back end of the truck falls and rests on the ground or (b) the frame rails fall and rest on the axle.

Maybe too many engineering classes for me...

WOW. This is one beautiful truck. Stories like this are a welcome break from the news. Mike, maybe you could do a classic story like this every month. I would certainly enjoy a little history lesson once in a while.

V-6? Sure it wasn't an I-6?

@paul810: Love stories like that
@Alex: Clarified. Good point!
@Jordan L.: I need to visit more classic car shows. :-)
@ETMC: Changed to six-cylinder. Good catch!

I love this truck.

My all time favorites:

1956 F100 & 1955 Chevy Apache

I really love this retro piece. That 'Stude is a beaut. If you do another one, please consider the postwar ('40's) Hudson pickup truck.

Had one like that. Cool truck and real metel

New trucks do not have the same character as the older trucks.

@Frank - good choices.

@xXChevySilveradoAmericasBestTruckXx hahaha you work for GM, dont diss the new F-150 its better than the GMC/Chevy why do you make 2 trucks? is it becuase you just cant compete? funny the F-150 still can carry payload and ride better than your "Chev" with less leaf springs, adding leafs isint hard, i had a 1999 4.2L V6 in my F-150 with well over 510,000kms, ran like brand new original tranny to, all hauling that truck could pull a bobcat, its had 5 leafs springs, and could haul just around 4000 pounds like it was nothen, you chevy would need 8 leaf spring to do that. the truck im talking about had 5 leaf springs.

Ah, they just don't make them like that anymore. What a sweet truck! Maybe that's why I replaced my old F150 with a 2010 Tundra 5.7. Maybe Tundra recaptures some of the American Dream that Detroit has long since forgotten. It works for me.

The "Stude" story is a welcome change from these new or anticipated trucks.. Maybe some more old diesel mules or those cool retro fire engines.. I c the old school story still attracted a new school fool.. Is nothing sacred ;^)

@xXChevySilveradoAmericasBestTruckXx - quote"Those like Lou who like crap, buy crap. LOL!"

Thanks for that brilliant commentary - now I know why I went out and traded my Ford Ranger on a GM van!

The number of springs on pickup is only part of the picture when it comes to load carrying capacity.
Metalurgy, spring thickness, spring width, and spring length all come into play.
Same goes for frames or other components - a larger beefy LOOKING component does not necessarily mean a stronger component.

I love these old trucks. They have style and class. Try to develop some of your own!

I have work on and sold Many 1955-1956-1957 -Chevrolet trucks. I have found that the Owners Enjoy these trucks very much.THANKS A HAPPY CHEVROLET OWNER

I own a 55 Studebaker E-Series Pickup with a 224 V8. It has been in my family since new as has been passed down. I am 3rd generation owner. I love the truck and find myself gazing at it every time I pass by her. I am in need of some parts. Radiator, rear end, and brake parts. Anyone have any good places where I can shop Studebaker. Can not seem to find anything. Hopefully someone out there can help me keep my dream alive :)



The rear end and the brakes are not going to be on the shelf at your local parts store. Go to the web and search the vendors who make the parts.

Bendix for example. Dana, for example.

The radiator should not be a problem as long as you still have an original to use as a guide.

Take the original to any decent radiator shop and they'll fab a new one for you. Not rocket science.

The rear end will be the tricky one, in my opinion.

The brake shoes and drums should not be too big a hassle, but the little bits like return springs could be a trick.

adam, dtop me an email I have the same truck.Gadman

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