Not too many songs conjure a visual like the Eagles' "Take it Easy." And for good reason, really; if Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey were good at anything, it was evocative imagery. With that one phrase, it's obvious that the gal in the pickup is one both in control and to behold. Judging by the enduring success of that song, it appears they weren't the only ones who think so.
Meet Diane Murray. This is her '50 Studebaker.
Though stock appearing, you've never seen one quite like it. It's probably because you're not likely to meet many like its owner. "I've always loved unique, older vehicles and used them as my daily drivers," she revealed. But like her pickup, they're just a little bit different. For example, her play car is a '60 Maserati 3500 GT-an alloy-bodied superleggera at that. It runs in the family, too. He just sold it, but her brother had an Olds Rocket-powered Deuce-also a green pickup, but the topless version. The Murray kids can trace the car lineage to their grandfather, renowned gunsmith Stan Baker (Diane's Maser was his), but they owe their personal involvement to their dad, Stan Murray. Among the cars in his stable: the concours-restored, chopped-and-sectioned '40 Ford convertible that his dad built in the '40s and a '56 Lotus 11 with a Le Mans pedigree. Yes, the Murray family does things just a little bit differently.
Though she drives 'em daily, she admits they're a bit impractical for daily use. Some require more maintenance; it's tricky to find parts for others. Heat is often marginal and air conditioning is out of the question. But if she could have her way, she surmised, "I could get the best of both worlds: a truck that looked like a stock classic to most people and newer running gear so it would drive and ride smoother."
As it happened, the truck belonged to an old family friend. "He used to camp in it ... trying to trap coyotes," she said. "The Nevada desert was the truck's grave, but we resurrected it." Though it languished northeast of Las Vegas, the lower quarters of the cab were rusty. The only thing useable about the bed was the Studebaker script on its tailgate.
Lucky for Diane, her dad's a good sport. "He's done restorations in the past, and I was confident he could build the kind of truck I wanted," she affirmed. "I could tell him things that I liked or wanted and he was able to do them."
While it's normal to have a Camaro donate its suspension and running gear, the one Stan used was anything but: it was a '91-a decade newer than the last one that lent itself to parts swapping. It's not a common donor because of its construction: rather than an A-arm front suspension on a stub, it has struts that rely on the body; instead of a parallel leaf, it has a threatening-looking torque-arm arrangement and coils. Unwieldy, yes; however, it's a far better handling system right out of the box.
With road manners as his charter, Stan first boxed the stock framerails from the firewall back and created everything from that point forward. The third-gen crossmembers still locate the major suspension and steering components, so Stan stripped it and grafted it to the new chassis stubs. As strut-type suspensions go, the third-gen Camaro's is unique in the sense that its springs aren't integral with the struts themselves. Instead, they sit inside spring pockets as they would in a conventional double-A-arm arrangement. The struts don't bear the weight of the car, so the pockets Stan made and welded to the crossmember sides are sufficient. Naturally, Stan employed the Camaro's disc brakes and its Z-28-specific power-assisted rack and fatter antiroll bar.
At the chassis' rear, he fabricated tabs, brackets, and crossmembers to transfer the Camaro's pickup points to the pickup's frame. In oversimplified terms, the design is a hybrid between a ladder bar and a four-link with a Panhard rod and coil springs. It looks about as strange as it sounds, but it's a bind-free design that redeems itself with great acceleration potential, ride quality, and handling. As he did with the front, Stan used the brakes and the Z-specific antiroll bar and limited-slip differential.
He used the Z-car's 305 but replaced its fuel and ignition control system with a simpler Edelbrock induction and a conventional HEI ignition. He adapted another radiator but used the Camaro's twin electric fans and accessory drive system, including the AC pump-even the booster/master combo. Branch Industries plumbed a 2-inch-diameter exhaust system to Cherry Bomb glasspacks. With a sports car background, can you imagine him buying a donor car with any less than three pedals? He used the Camaro's pedal assembly and the T5 transmission that came with it.