Folks either know about Studebakers or they don't. The old guys-the real old guys-say Studebakers haven't been any good since they took the tongue out. For those of you who don't get it, the expression refers to the tongue in a horse-drawn wagon.

The origin of Studebaker pickups can be traced back to 1852 in Placerville, California, where John Mohler Studebaker sold his first wheelbarrow. John's device looked like a wood-floored pickup bed on two wheels with no engine. In 1858 "Wheelbarrow" Johnny sold his manufacturing business and joined his brothers in South Bend, Indiana, to build wagons for the U.S. Army. By the end of the Civil War, the Studebaker brothers had become multimillionaires, and Studebaker was the world's dominant name in horse-drawn vehicles. By 1870, John's youngest brother, Jacob Franklin Studebaker, had established the world's first Studebaker dealership in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Our story about St. Joe resident Dwight Hamann's 1949 Studebaker pickup begins 155 years later.

While driving through the outskirts of St. Joe, Dwight spotted the Studebaker pickup abandoned in a field. Its second owner parked the Stude there in '70 after driving it since '57. Dwight paid the guy $200 and hauled it away-after removing a big tree that had grown up between the frame and engine, that is.

Dwight started the project by grafting a '70 Nova subframe onto the truck's nose and stuffing a 402-inch Chevy big-block engine into it. Dwight told us "life gets in the way," so his progress on the truck didn't always move as fast as he would have liked it to. Dwight was kicking around a lot of the '49 Stude's major components for a project like this. The pickup's Ford nine-inch rearend is from a '69 Cougar Dwight stripped several years ago. For rear disc brakes, he robbed a set from an 8.8-inch Ford Explorer rearend and hogged them out to fit.

Dwight originally ran a TH350 behind his "rat" motor until the 350 snapped in half while shifting into high. Not wishing to continue snapping trannies into halves, Dwight upgraded to a beefed 200R four-speed auto from Pro-Street Transmissions in Independence, Missouri.

Dwight's 402-inch big-block engine was running in a '68 Camaro. Long story short, someone wanted the Camaro, but Dwight didn't want to part with his trusty 402. He yanked the motor out and shelved it until the Studebaker came along. The "rat" motor was kind of tired, so before he could drop it in the Studebaker, he had to rebuild it. Dwight hauled his core motor up to Leaverton's Auto Supply in St. Joe, where the block was hot-tanked and bored to 0.30-over for a set of 9.75:1 Keith Black pistons fitted with Sealed Power rings. Cam bearings were knocked in, readying it for Steve Schott to slip in a Lunati bumpstick with a 544 lift and 230 duration. The cylinder heads were plugged with triangle-cut stainless steel valves, with a Power Plus intake manifold gapping the intake valley. For carburetion, the Studebaker uses a 780-cfm Holley with a K&N filter. Jet-Hot coated Dynomax headers dump into a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.