The outside world sometimes views hot rodding as a purely nostalgic endeavor--a bunch of old guys trying to relive their youths through old cars and trucks. This characterization may ring true for some rodders, but for others the nostalgia factor is only part of the equation.

John VanMaele tells us that his attraction to his '50 Studebaker is partly sentimental, since he has fond memories of riding in his older brother's '50 Stude decades ago. But there's also a part of him that just wanted something different, a departure from the Fords and Chevys he'd been tinkering with. The Stude seemed like just the ticket.

Though the previous owner had started the project, John still had an uphill climb ahead of him. That became obvious when he discovered the poor fit of the '76 Camaro subframe. Kevin Broderick at Fabrications Unlimited was enlisted to properly locate the clip, and John had him install a Morrison rear four-link while he was at it. Air springs were added to all four corners, and eventually a quartet of BFG-wrapped Billet Specialties wheels found their way under the pickup.

A big-block Chevy was decided upon for power, which soon led to the "Stud Rat" moniker being bestowed upon the pickup. It's a stout powerplant, too, filled with 10.5:1 pistons, a Comp Cams camshaft, Weiand intake, and 750cfm Edelbrock carb. Hedman headers and Flowmaster mufflers provide the appropriate rumble. John chose to row his own gears by backing the big-block with a Richmond five-speed box.

Like the chassis, the body needed plenty of work, too. By word of mouth John found Roger Duran (Duran-ized Rods, Edwardsville, Kansas), who immediately dove into the bodywork with assistance from Fred Pullen. Aside from smoothing out all the bumps, scrapes, and wrinkles, the pair finished off the Nissan taillight installation started by the previous owner. Kevin Broderick again lent his fabrication skills by building the smooth tailgate. A rolled rear pan and custom contoured front bumper added a little more distinction before Roger sprayed the Lemon Ice paint and custom graphics.

The final order of business was making the cabin more inhabitable. Russ Edwards gets credit for covering the Cavalier seats, custom door panels, and other interior pieces in tan leather. The balance of the cab is also pretty classy, with a custom mahogany dash (filled with Auto Meter gauges), Vintage Air, a Delco stereo with Kenwood speakers, and a Grant wheel on the '68 Chevy tilt column. John did as much of the assembly and detail work as he could, getting lots of assistance from his little brother Bob.

Just like those days gone by riding with his brother, John says he likes to get this Stude "on the street to go through the gears." But it's not just an empty-headed speed addiction; he can get a little philosophical, too. "Being a gearhead," he says, "at times I wonder what is more important--looks or get-go. We can't have it all most of the time, but is sure is great to work at it!"

Facts & Figures

John Vanmaele

Spring Hill, Kansas

1950 Studebaker

CHASSIS
Frame / Manufacturer modified stock / Studebaker
Modifications '76 Camaro subframe installed at Fabrications Unlimited, Kansas City, KS
Rearend / Ratio Ford 9" / 2.90:1
Rear suspension Morrison four-bar w/ air springs
Rear brake drum
Front suspension '76 Camaro IFS with air springs
Front brakes Camaro disc
Master cylinder Afco, under floor
Steering Camaro box
Steering column '68 Chevy tilt
Front wheel make, size Billet Specialties, 16x8
Rear wheel make, size Billet Specialties, 17x11
Front tire make, size BFGoodrich, 225/60R16
Rear tire make, size BFGoodrich, 345/55R17
Gas tank 27 gal. plastic marine tank
ENGINE
Year and make Chevrolet
Displacement 454 ci (now 468 ci)
Camshaft Comp Cams
Heads massaged by Jamie's Automotive
Valve covers Moroso aluminum with custom paint
Manifold / Induction Weiand / Edelbrock 750 cfm
Ignition / Wires Accel with MSD box / Taylor Headers Hedman
Exhaust / Mufflers 2.5" / Flowmaster
TRANSMISSION
Year and make Richmond five-speed
Clutch Centerforce
Shifter Hurst
BODY
Body style / Material pickup / steel
Body manufacturer Studebaker
Body mods shaved emblems, contoured front bumper, custom fit and finish
Hood stock
Grille stock
Bed stock with smooth tailgate and rolled pan by Fabrications Unlimited
Bodywork Roger Duran and Fred Pullen, Edwardsville, KS
Painter Roger Duran, Duran-ized Rods
Paint type / Color PPG / Lemon Ice
Pinstriping Roger Duran
Headlights / Taillights stock / Nissan pickup
Outside mirrors California
INTERIOR
Dashboard custom with mahogany insert, padded top
Gauges Auto Meter
Stereo / Speakers Delco / Kenwood
Air conditioning Vintage Air
Wiring Ron Francis kit
Steering wheel Grant
Seats '89 Cavalier
Upholsterer Russ Edwards, Merriam, KS
Material / Color leather / tan
Carpet brown