What to do with such a rarity? If you had yourself a vehicle of such unique heritage, like a '37 Studebaker Coupe Express, for example, you'd probably be forced with the same quandary as Colorado's Steve Doerschlag was back at the dawn of the new millennium: restore or hot-rod? With all apologies to the astute purists out there, we're rather pleased that he and his wife, Sandy, made the right decision and did both!
So just how do you restore AND hot-rod at the same time? Typically, any act of modification deems a resto null and void, right? Well, while that is indeed true, you can modify subtly and in a manner that, if you felt so inclined, could be reverted back to stock without a huge amount of effort. Make sense? (We know, but we also make the rules ... to some extent!)
Unless you really know your Coupe Express history, you might assume the Doerschlags' sleek pickup underwent some extensive cosmetic surgery. You'd assume wrong. Save for minor nips and tucks such as frenched headlights and vent wing removal, the Stude is as elegant as it was upon its public inauguration back in 1937. Sure, 17-inch Torq-Thrust IIs would have seemed like UFO landing gear in comparison to the more accepted choice of artillery-style wheels all those years ago, but then stamped-steel wheels just didn't seem to go with a McCulloch VS57-supercharged Golden Hawk V-8, either. Even if the alterations are offensive to some (nobody we know!), at least it was noble that the Studebaker theme was played out to the fullest extent, right?
Beneath all the gorgeous silver metallic contours and curves still resides a stock chassis ... well, mostly. The framerails are what Studebaker originally slapped the Coupe Express onto, but the important stuff is anything but OE. A Heidts Superide IFS and a Posies SuperSlide-sprung Ford 9-inch now support the pickup, as well as its updated rolling stock. And behind the '58 289, Steve mated a '64 Avanti Powershift that's been modified to shift manually. Finally, the interior, which is another heavy dose of Avanti throughout, complements the exterior nicely with its turquoise and black accents.
Love it or leave it, makes no difference to us-we're just glad to feature it! Enjoy.
Steve & Sandy Doerschlag's '37 Studebaker
Classic Trucks, May, 2009
By Rob Fortier
Photography by Grant Peterson