Studebakers aren’t really a common car here in New Zealand, but that hasn’t stopped Waikato-based resto-shop owner Trevor Halstead from chopping them up

Over the years, he’s produced more custom Studebakers than anyone else — in fact, it’d be fair to say he’s been involved with almost every modified Stude in the country. And, to be honest, he owns most of them himself, as you can see here. But, as well as being a Stude owner, he’s become the go-to guy for high-quality old-school panel work, and that’s exactly what the owner of this purple machine was after.

Trev never cuts up a car that’s good enough to be restored, but if it’s a basket case beyond repair, he’ll be in quicker than you can say six-inch cutting disc.

The car started life as a side valve six-cylinder three-speed left-hook import. Over the last few years, at the request of his Whangamata-based customer, that’s all changed. These days the car runs a 1963 259ci V8 and four-speed, with Holden front end and, of course, Trev’s usual custom touches. 

One thing we love about all of Trev’s builds is how good he gets the engine bays to look. How’s this for smooth and clean?

That overdose of purple flows into the interior, where a set of late-model seats, along with custom door trims, have been stitched in the same colour. 

With the car being so rare, both on local soil and abroad, it’s hard to notice just how many custom body touches there are. Trev laughs that it’s the only roof-chopped Stude in the country that he doesn’t own, and he’s right, although he's clearly done the work on it.

During the restoration, the B pillars have been slanted forward for that real custom look. Thankfully the front screen is flat, so could be cut as opposed to needing to be custom made or recessed into the body. 

Obviously both front and rear bumpers have been ditched, the latter being replaced with a custom number-plate panel, and the grill has also been customized. Trev’s also smoothed off any protrusions, including chrome, badges, and door handles, leaving the only exterior chrome to be the set of smoothie hubcaps that it now wears.

There’s no doubting that the car is not everyone’s taste, but we kinda like it. Although we’d love to see it on some wide whitewalls, and maybe with some spats on the back, just to add to that kustom look. 

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the quality of workmanship, and the impact that the car offers. If you see it up close, we assure you you’ll be blown away!

Todd Wylie

Todd Wylie has been involved with NZV8 magazine since before the first issue was printed, and has been the editor for the last eight years. Growing up in the heyday of the Jap-import scene, he's not adverse to Japanese vehicles, having worked for NZ Performance Car previously, as well as owning a few well-known examples. These days he cruises at a slower pace in a 1956 Cadillac Coupe and dreams of building a Model A tudor.