After completing several projects Chateau Stillwater Garage wanted to create something really unique. The builder had already completed a Mazda RX-7 with a RB20DET and enjoyed it so much he wanted to use the engine in another project. Since almost all of his other projects used European and Japanese vehicles he decided to use an American car this time.
The builder chose a 1948 Studebaker Champion because it was small and light but also had the unique wrap-around back window. After selling the engine, three-speed transmission, front and rear suspension on a forum he soon got started swapping most of the components from a 1990 Nissan R32 Skyline front clip.
Normally the owner would have a custom front chassis built but instead decided to weld the entire Skyline front onto the Studebaker chassis with help from fabricator friend Sean O’Brienwas. The Skyline frame ended up being one inch lower than the factory Studebaker.
The R32 five-speed manual transmission was installed using a custom rear crossmember. Unfortunately the transmission was longer than the factory Studebaker three-speed which caused the shifter to be located right in front of the bench seat. To fix this a dog leg was welded into the shifter arm which moved it forward several inches.
The Skyline steering column, throttle, clutch and brake pedals were carried over to the Studebaker. A Nissan 240SX rack and pinion was used to convert from right-hand to left-hand drive and the steering shaft needed to be lengthened four inches. To reinforce the firewall on the left side a piece of 1/8 inch plate was welded in.
The factory Studebaker rear end and leaf-spring suspension was replaced with a R33 rear suspension, viscous limited-slip diff and disc brakes. The rear suspension did require smaller shocks and springs from a Porsche Carrera to fit the wheel choice.
The builder did a great job making the RB20 engine feel like it belongs. Using the Studebaker valve cover to cover the intake manifold was a very nice touch.
To give the body a cleaner look the main hood ornament and front emblem were removed. The rear bumper was also reshaped and moved closer to the body. Other parts of the body such as the area under the rear bumper and rear fenders had custom panels made to fill the recesses.
A pair of Infiniti J30 fuel tanks found in a junkyard made their way into the Studebaker trunk. A benefit of these was they included the correct fuel pump for the Nissan fuel injection and fuel level sensor which worked with the Skyline fuel gauge.
All the factory Skyline gauges were removed from the instrument cluster and mounted individually in the Studebaker. The Skyline tachometer replaced the factory clock and the digital clock inside the Skyline tach was replaced with a digital boost gauge.
One of the last modifications was increasing the engine’s power by taking the turbo from 8-9 psi to 12 psi using a different spring in the wastegate actuator.
The builder had done a great job documenting the extensive work on the build at the project’s homepage. If you enjoy this project I highly recommend you reading it.
Source: Chateau Stillwater Garage