CLASSIC TRUCKS reader John Stivers’ cool ’50 Studebaker R2 is the result of years worth of hard work performed in his home shop. Originally he was given a ’49 1-ton Studebaker pickup that was pretty rough to say the least. Well, as you might expect, the rust was worse than previously thought and just about the time he was ready to haul it all off to the scrapyard he came across a much more solid ’50 R2 as a basis for his project. (John decided to keep the ’49 thinking it may come in handy as a parts donor.) John’s goal was to build a nice and reliable driver. The old Studebaker running gear and chassis left much to be desired. He considered several options, but settled on using a ’96 Dodge Dakota chassis as a foundation. The wheelbase was right and he ended up with a solid platform equipped with disc brakes and rack-and-pinion power steering.
John’s approach was to completely assemble the truck to be sure he could work out all the bugs and then pull it apart for bodywork and paint. So once he had fit the cab and bed on the frame he pulled it back off and went to work on the driveline. Since it was gonna be a hot rod and not a restoration he didn’t need to worry about the Studebaker in a Studebaker thing. John found a good running ’02 LS1/L460E and decided this was the way to go.
With the chassis and running gear handled, the next step was to whip the R2’s body back into shape. Luckily it needed just basic bodywork to bring it back into like-new shape. Beyond basic body restoration, John performed a bit of customizing as well. He deleted the vent window and installed one-piece glass using Electric Life electric power window units, shaved the door handles, and cut out the original dash replacing it with a flat piece of 18-gauge metal.
Out back John filled the ends of the bed and installed the ’39 Ford taillights as well as hidden latches. At that point there were a few things John thought were outside his capability so he took it to Tom Rhodes of Shade Tree Specialties in Lemoore, California, to take care of. Tom fixed the problems and filled the gas tank filler, fit the fenders and hood to the cab, and put the truck in primer. John then took the truck home and did the first round of blocking. It was then returned to Tom for a final coat of primer and blocking after which Tom shot it in candy red urethane.
Being more workhorses than everyday drivers, Studebakers didn’t have much in the way of a fancy interior so he fabricated a custom headliner and door panels and utilized Hyundai seats because they are small and fit the cab well. John also fabricated the console that houses the radio, A/C controls, and engine computer. All this was covered in vinyl by his good friend Able Garza. Other small interior tricks include the fabrication of a custom bezel for the radio as well as a billet mount for the rearview mirror. SPW wipers, Custom Autosound radio, Dolphin gauges, and an AutoLoc shaved door handle kit rounded out the upgrades.