When Subtle Isn’t Enough: 1983 Studemino

Car based trucks like the Chevrolet El Camino have, unfortunately, not been a part of the automobile scene for some time.  That is a shame, because vehicles of their size and capabilities would fill a practical and profitable hole in the market.  While many of the last generation of El Caminos and Caballeros (GMC version) are still tooling around, some folks just want to stand out a bit from the norm.  Take for example this Pat L. located  1983 GMC Caballero for sale on craigslist in Bear Canyon, New Mexico.  Evidentally, the smooth styling of a standard Caballero wasn’t enough, so this one has been professionally transformed into a Studemino.  Does adding the styling gimmicks of a bullet nose Studebaker add value to this otherwise nice, low mileage Caballero?  Is the asking price of $10,500 a bit out of line here?

So how does someone end up with a Studemino?  A little searching on the web turned up the studemino.com website.  At this site you can see various pictures of these conversions, participate in a forum, and even get started building one of these unique creations if you order a body kit.  A complete kit can, according to the seller, can be installed in less than a week.  Then, it is off to the body shop for final finishing.  The kits currently retail for $5,495.

While I think I would be happy with just a clean El Camino or Caballero like the seller seems to have started with on this conversion, I guess some people really have a warm place in their heart for bullet nose Studebakers.  From what we can see, the installation looks to be well done and the paint and body work still appears like new.  The bed appears to be free of dents and coated with a Rhino Liner finish.  I think I can do without the wheels though.

Inside is the standard El Camino/Caballero interior with just a few subtle changes.  The first is an old fashioned “juke knob” attached to the wheel.  Second is the subtle Studebaker “S” painted into the center of the steering wheel.  Everything looks neat and tidy except for a crack or two in the dash and I believe the trim in the arms of the steering wheel has fallen out.  Not a big deal for a truck of this age.  My father had a couple of El Caminos, and they were always comfortable to drive and good cruisers.  This one looks to be no different.  With 63,000 miles on the odometer, there is a lot of life left in this truck.

Everything is neat and tidy under the hood given the age of this truck.  The engine is the usual 307 cubic inch V-8 of the time.  The few distractions are the flame tape holding a wire to the air conditioning hose and a little devil air cleaner wing nut.  Chrome valve covers, breather, and air cleaner have also been added.  The radiator, however, doesn’t look like a standard GM product.  It looks like a radiator from a much older car.  Anyone have an idea about what is going on here?

All and all, this is a very unique truck.  While it doesn’t mesh well with my tastes, I can see the appeal for someone wanting a distinct look with modern reliability.  Is it your cup of tea?


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  1. Chebby Staff

    It’s actually NOT bad-looking. 307 was an Olds motor that also went in Buicks and Pontiacs, so this is probably the corporate 305 that Chevrolets received.

    Like 9
    • Will Irby

      Chevrolet introduced the 307 in 1968.

      Like 5
      • Keruth

        307’s were boat anchors by the time they smoged them, the 5 liter 305 should be in there for ’83.
        Maybe a 4v?
        I’ve got a buddy that’s all in on Studebakers. Made a El’ Stude out of a hawk body, much better!

        Like 2
      • Rik

        …and they dropped it in 1973…given that this is a ’83, I’d say it’s a 305

        Like 1
      • JOHN Member

        There are two different 307’s… the Oldsmobile, based on the 330 engine, it uses Olds blocks, heads, intake, etc, and the Chevrolet 307, which is based off the typical small block Chevrolet, this is at its heart, a 283 block with a 327 crank. They were only made from 68-73, and replaced with the 305. The 302 Chevy Z/28 engine is basically a 327/350 block with a 4.0″ bore and a 283 crankshaft. The 307 Chevrolet’s are generally not viewed as a high performance motor. The 307 Olds was not viewed as a performance motor either, but again, people do build them. It’s called hot rodding. You also have to remember the good old days when Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobiles for instance, had 455 cubic inch engines, all were unique to the manufacturer. Chevrolet, of course had the 454. Chevy, Olds, Buick and Pontiac also had 350 engines, again, all manufacturer specific. Cadillac also made their own V8 engines, up to 500 cubic inches.

        Like 5
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    It looks well executed. I’m not keen on the color or the wheels, but otherwise it’s kinda cool.

    Like 10
  3. Steve R

    It only has 63,000 miles because the owner is embarrassed to be seen in it. These look better in pictures than they do in person. Someone that worked next to my old job drove one every day, their proportions are off, they look awkward from certain angles.

    Steve R

    Like 7
  4. JOHN Member

    I like El Camino’s (I have a 70 SS) and I love bullet nosed Studebaker’s (my dad had a 50 convertible) This is just a little freaky, I sort of like it, but mostly not. Maybe if it had 600 HP or something, it might (emphasis on might) be interesting! but one thing is certain, those wheels IMO are not helping at all.

    Like 5
  5. Michael

    In Australia, this thing would spin heads like The Exorcist !

    Like 8
  6. Doc

    The dent bellow the driver side mirror is a problem. So is asking for a Prius in trade . To each their own.

    Like 1
    • Jerry Brentnell

      that so called dent is the shadow of the mirror if you look close, nice conversion job just the same! I like it ,would be better with 5 speed stick in it!

      Like 2
  7. CapNemo CapNemo

    I respect the work that went into this, but the wheels need to go back to their own country.

    Like 7
  8. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I kind of like it. Had Studebakers in the family and El Camino’s are always good. Not crazy about the rims, the colors not bad. Big thing for me though is the lack of any type of bumpers on it. Just watched someone parallel park by feel the other day and he touched both the cars ahead of and behind where he was parking. This is a highway and garage car only IMO. Park it anywhere and someone is sure to do the same thing to it resulting in ultimate damage. Fit some appropriate bumpers and it would be much better IMO. It’s not a heavy hauler but then again it doesn’t appear to have been built to do anything more than drive and show.

    Like 2
    • JOHN Member

      My dad’s 50 Commander convertible had optional bumper guards, they looked like the early VW (pre 68) bumper guards, the simple chrome round bar supported by vertical parts. The Stude’s bumper guards, however rose up at least twice maybe 3x the height of a VW, and there was a slight dip in the center to not block the bullet nose. The tops of the stanchions or whatever you called the vertical part were topped with an almost finial thing, looks like a flattened chrome ball. You rarely see them on an early Studebaker, especially anything customized, as they look a bit clunky. I still have the original small glass two piece rear window from when we (I helped, sort of) installed a new convertible top with a plastic rear full size window, a ton more visibility, but that small back window is so cool…

      • John

        I’d like to see bumper guards that were 2 or 3 times the height of a VW!

      • Bill McCoskey

        Those bumper guards you speak of, the ones with the round chrome ball at the top, were produced as accessory sets by the Van Auken [not sure of the spelling] company. they made these for almost all American cars from the mid 1940s into the 1950s.

        I have them for my 1948 Packard Super 8 Convertible.

        Like 1
  9. Dave

    Very well executed, but….

    The Stude to Chevy body lines don’t jibe, and really can’t. And I never liked the tail lights in the roll pan or in the bumper. Vertical tails, like Cadillac, would look much better.

    Like 1
    • JOHN Member

      Agree Dave on the lights. The original Studes of that vintage had vertical tail lights, small, but vertical!

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I like it. Looks well built. Agree, the wheels gotta go.

    Like 1
  11. Maynard Reed Jr

    That is one unattractive automobile in my opinion. It should have a 305 not a 307 at that time. That is unless someone swapped it out or its a olds engine.

  12. Mark

    To each his own……the effort can be applauded but if there is one lesson to be learned…..those wheels, on virtually any car, rarely make it any more appealing.

    Like 1
  13. Piros1

    Doesn’t do much for me. Color, body lines, wheels, interior, none of it flows together. I had a 1968 El Camino that was bright red with a hot high revving 327 4 speed when I was a teen and sold it about a year after I got married. Wish I would of kept it but all hind sight. When I sold it the $1800.00 I got for it seemed like a lot of money. After about 1970 I kind of lost a taste for the cosmetic and performance lost in the newer El Camino’s. All memories.

  14. Jim

    The duct tape around the A/C low side hose tells me everything I need to know about this catastrophe.

  15. rod444

    Id drive it. If nothing else for that wheel spinner on the steering wheel. Getting hard to find those anymore.

    Probably feel a lot more comfortable parking it if there were a couple of narrow vertical chrome bumpers under the headlights, but other than that, it’s pretty well put together.

    Like 1
  16. Roarrr Rogers

    I appreciate it’s design, for me very much better than the original. yes it’s not too practical as the originals are either–a personnel grocery getter for a small town where there’s not a problem someone bashing into it

  17. Fran

    It has now been 45 minutes and I have not stopped sadly laughing.

    Like 1
  18. the one

    Very cool! When I was 16, 1970, My Dad was gonna help me buy a 50 Champion, owned by an elderly women for, get this, $85!
    Well, I got a D in chemistry that quarter, by the time I raised it to a B, It was sold..

    Like 3
  19. C5 Corvette

    I like the color, the wheels and the bubble rear quarters. I just don’t care for the bullet nose.

  20. canadainmarkseh Member

    Cool car hate the colour, hate the wheels. He needs to fix the dent in the drivers door and that could be done while repainting it to a more period correct colour.

  21. Jon

    I love the Studes. But not this. Ugly.

  22. Brent

    Speaking of 307 sbc. If you put a 307 crank (that no one wants) in a 4 bolt main 350 block (plentiful) with 327 pistons you’ll have a 327 cid 4 bolt main motor. With a 350/350 hp cam with 2 degrees adv., 68cc 2.02 ported heads w/ small tube headers, low plane intake w/ 700cfm double pumper, 34-6 degrees total adv. on timing you’ll have a Hot Rod motor. Built a bunch of them and never had the cast 307 crank break.

  23. CanuckCarGuy

    There was a late ’90s Riviera near me for sale recently…somewhat of a project car, but it appeared to be wearing a similar body kit.

    Not a fan of the El Camino look, but wouldn’t mind seeing a finished Malibu wagon with the kit. It definitely looks better than the ’57 Chevrolet kits that are out there for Camaros.

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