Someday, somewhere, scientists are going to announce the discovery of a hot rod gene, passed down from generation to generation that causes certain members of society to take old cars and trucks and modify them in really cool ways. And when they do, hundreds of thousands of hot rodders, guys like Talbert Goldman, will hear that scientific announcement and say "Duh! We've always known that."
Talbert is the owner of Champagne High, this stunning 1949 Studebaker pickup. That hot rod gene runs in Talbert's family, passed down from generation to generation. The Studebaker has followed it, passing from Talbert's grandfather to his father and now to him.
The truck originally belonged to Talbert's maternal grandfather Charles Talbert. Charles ended up giving the Studebaker to Mike Goldman, who had shown interest in it. Mike freshened it up and drove it for several years. At some point during that time, Mike also started showing interest in Charles' daughter Sherry. It must have been mutual, because they got married and eventually Talbert showed up.
By the time Talbert was in elementary school his parents were getting national attention for the rods being built at Mike Goldman Customs in Meridian, Mississippi. He was about 15 when the Studebaker was passed down to him and he started to work on it, and by age 16, Talbert was getting national attention of his own for his work on the truck. It was satin red with wide whitewalls and steelies, a 1959 Impala dash, and 1950 Pontiac taillights. You may remember seeing it in the winner's circle at numerous shows or in several magazines, including this one. It was only about 10 years ago.
A couple years ago, Talbert decided to redo the Studebaker, "tear it down and heat it up" as he puts it. He built it from the frame up, as he'd done as a teenager. The frame had been beefed up with boxing plates during his first build. C-notches were added to the rear 'rails to bring things down. Now airbags from RideTech take the already-low truck as low as it'll go before the pavement pushes back. Fatman Fabrications supplied the Mustang II-style independent front suspension, front crossmember, and steering components. During the rebuild, Talbert replaced the rearend with a 3.00:1-ratio Ford 9-inch from John's Industries. He replaced the factory rear drums brakes with discs to match the front, improving the Studebaker's go-to-slow time and distance.
Changes under the hood are impressive, starting with the beautifully redone firewall and fan shroud. Mike Goldman put together the Chevy small-block engine. The red truck version of the 350 was dressed up with a red flamed Cadillac air cleaner and a pair of chromed valve covers. That's been replaced by a distinctive two-tone custom-built air cleaner cover with valve covers from Racing Power Company painted to match. A serpentine pulley system adds to the overall appeal. Underneath the air cleaner, a Quick Fuel Technology 750-cfm carburetor is mounted atop an Edelbrock Air Gap Performer intake. The exhaust system was upgraded with a set of custom headers with MagnaFlow mufflers. The whole thing is tied to a column-shifted Turbo 350 transmission.
The tinted red primer that covered Talbert's truck for 10 years has been replaced with champagne DuPont ChromaPremier paint. The custom color was mixed by Sherry Goldman, Talbert's mother, and sprayed by Talbert himself. In addition to that change, a bumper from a mid-1990s Chevy was mounted in front, driprails and door locks were shaved, and Lokar taillights were installed in place of the repro Pontiac lights. With trim, badging, and the majority of the exterior hardware removed, there's nothing competing with the Studebaker's curved stock bodylines. In the bed, the steel floor has been swapped for highly polished dark stained oak.
The redone suspension drops the fenders farther than ever over the wheels and tires. With 275/35ZR20 and 225/40ZR18 Sumitomo performance tires, there's no room for whiteswalls, but plenty for tread and plenty for the 20x10 and 18x8 Billet Specialties five-spokes.
The chocolate brown interior is a great complement to the champagne exterior. Tommy Hodges from Meridian, Mississippi, used leather and suede to cover the bench seat, which had been added to the truck during its first rebuild. The 1959 Impala dash was trimmed and installed by Talbert at that time, and is one of our favorite elements of the whole truck. It's been finished in low-gloss light brown paint and filled with Dolphin gauges. An ididit steering column supports a Billet Specialties Fast Lane wheel. The polished control panel for the Vintage Air Gen II Super A/C system was located in the center of the dash. Talbert built a custom floor console for the Sony audio head unit and the gauges for the RideTech suspension. An EZ Wiring system feeds juice wherever it's needed.
Since completing the Studebaker, Talbert has kept it on the road, not only by driving it every week, but by showing it at numerous rod and custom shows, where the truck has drawn some serious attention and earned some serious awards. The Studebaker is a 2013 Goodguys Truck of the Year finalist and a Street Rodder Top 100 pick. Add to that a few serious offers to buy it, but Talbert says it's not for sale. His plan is to leave it as it is until he and his wife Jessica have a kid of their own and Talbert can pass down Champagne High, and the hot rod gene, to the next generation.