When Studebaker decided to infuse a more radical restyling into their car line for 1953 little did they know their influences would be so well received within the performance world. The new Studebaker Champion coupes looked like they were doing 200 mph while standing still. Regardless of whether they were used in drag racing or for thundering across the salt, the new body style easily cheated the wind, more on that later.

For George Burke of Glenside, Pennsylvania, growing up as the son of a well-known local drag racer certainly had its perks. It's pretty cool when your earliest memories are surrounded by morning wake-ups on Saturdays to tag along with your dad in his 1965 Suburban towing a race car trailer. Heading off to many of the hottest local 'strips, including Atco, Maple Grove, Englishtown, and Beaver Springs, had a major influence on his life. Being constantly surrounded by drag racers and engine builders gave him strong roots to absorb for the future. His dad always ran in the Modified Eliminator class with a Kinsler-injected small-block linked to a four-speed as his ultimate combination. George learned well from his time at the track and wrenching at home and started working as an engine installer at J A Robinson Automotive in 10th grade, moving onto the machine shop by graduation.

As the years passed he had spent plenty of time behind the wheel of a number of hopped-up A-body Mopars running various engine combinations. George then got the urge to build a wicked street car packed with attitude and performance. While driving along back roads one day he noticed a partially buried 1953 Studebaker Champion Starliner hardtop and stopped to inquire about it. A deal was made and it was hauled it home. Noticing the car had a ton of prior leadwork done to the body it dawned on him it was a custom its prior life. He attended a Studebaker meet the following year and wound up making a deal with an interested party who actually swapped him for a running and driving 1953 Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe.

George wasted no time in tearing down the car at his home shop and began to lay out plans for an updated frame, starting with a 2x3-inch steel base. The wheelbase was increased by 1-1/2 inches and custom crossmembers were fabbed to tie everything together. Wanting the car to handle like it's on 'rails, an 1982 Jaguar IRS was narrowed and packed with a Dana 44 rear turning 4.30 gears while four Carrera coilover shocks keep it firm. Up front a Fatman Fabrications IFS complete with tubular upper and lower control arms, 2-inch dropped spindles, and Carrera coilover shocks combined with a custom antisway bar sets the pace. For plenty of whoa when needed a Wilwood dual master pushes fluid through steel lines to Jaguar inboard discs and calipers out back and late-model Corvette discs and calipers up front. To get the stance dialed in a set of custom wheels by Boyd's in 17-inch front and 18-inch rear configuration shod with low-profile BFGoodrich Comp T/As gets the job done.

For power George built a nasty, stroked small-block Chevy at his business, Santilli's Transmission and Auto Repair in Glenside. A 1970 Chevy 350ci block was bored and stroked to 383 ci and filled with a Scat crank and rods, Keith Black slugs, and a Lunati cam. A set of Dart Iron Eagle heads work perfectly with a Hilborn stack EFI sparked to life by an MSD ignition to generate seamless power. Gears move through a 1967 Corvette shifter linked to a 1996 Corvette ZF six-speed trans coupled to a custom driveshaft.

When it came time to address the body modifications and completion of the project George met with Gary Brown of Brown's Metal Mods in Port Leyden, New York. The pair shared the same design ideas for the coupe and Brown went right to work, starting with a 2-inch front chop and converting the doors to suicide style. From there fresh N.O.S. fenders and rear quarters were set in place, and the quarters were then extended by 4 inches while also being dropped 4 inches from the wheel opening back. From there Brown added 1953 Merc frenched headlights, tucked and pinched the bumpers, a forward opening hood, custom engine bay sheetmetal, and shaved the body. With everything razor sharp he loaded his spray gun and laid down a PPG Inferno Red vibe bringing the car to life. The interior then received a custom dash with an engine-turned aluminum insert cradling Stewart-Warner dials while a cool breeze comes from Vintage Air and navigation moves through an ididit tilt column and Lecarra steering wheel. For comfort, Kings Auto Upholstery of Roanoke, Virginia, covered a set of custom seats with dark charcoal leather accented by matching loop carpet to complete the look. All we can say is that George, Ann Marie, and Anya have the hottest street shaker in town cruising the boulevard!

TECH TIPS

Comp Cams
Hydraulic Roller Cams Need The Parts To Match

When installing a hydraulic roller cam in an early model GM block, it is necessary to use a special hydraulic roller lifter with a link bar attached to keep the lifters properly located within the block itself. In addition, special length pushrods must also be used. A thrust button is required as well to keep the cam from "walking" in the block.

FAST
Do I Really Need To Have An Air Temp Sensor?

In a word, yes. This is a critical component to have. The ECU will do a correction depending on the temperature of the outside air, using more fuel when it is cold and less when the air temperature is hot. By using this correction the ECU can maintain your target air/fuel ratio.

Inglese
Exotic Induction Is Easy

If you are running an original FAST EZ-EFI system, it's easy to take off the throttle body and replace with an Inglese Sidedraft System. This means that if you are headed to a show on the weekend you can easily switch to a more exotic-looking engine setup. The sidedraft will bolt up perfectly and will use all of the same computers as the EZ-EFI throttle body. The only necessary change is an adapter harness for the TPS switch.