By on August 26, 2019

Rare Rides has featured a couple of Studebaker offerings in the past, both of which were family-hauling wagons. Today’s Studebaker is a more luxurious and less capacious hardtop coupe. Let’s have a look at a rare 1958 Golden Hawk.

The late Fifties were an unfortunate time at the newly-formed Studebaker-Packard company. The combined operation was the result of Packard’s purchase of Studebaker in 1954. Packard was a smaller company than Studebaker, but had a stronger balance sheet and leadership group. Unfortunately, Studebaker hadn’t quite been honest about its financial position, and it was all downhill from there. But the company still made cars while it floundered, and the Hawk offerings were important in the coupe-loving Fifties.

Based on Studebaker’s Champion Starliner coupe introduced for 1953, designer Raymond Loewy drew up a family of Hawk coupes for the 1956 model year. The entry-level Flight Hawk was accompanied by the Power Hawk, Sky Hawk, and premium Golden Hawk at Studebaker dealerships. Though all four models were introduced in ’56, only the Golden Hawk made it through to a second and third model year.

Upright styling on the new Hawk incorporated a bulging hood and fins at the rear, all the rage in 1956. The hood had a function: It contained a larger engine than the Champion, a 5.8-liter (352 cubic inch) Packard V8 producing 275 horsepower. A muscle car of the time, the Golden Hawk had an excellent power-to-weight ratio that was second only to the much more expensive Chrysler 300B. The old Packard mill was a bit heavy, so Studebaker put an even heavier engine in for 1957. New that year was a 4.7-liter (289 cubic inch) supercharged Studebaker V8. It had the same 275 horsepower as the previous engine, but increased top speed.

The Flight, Power, and Sky Hawks were replaced by a single Silver Hawk in 1957 that still played second fiddle to the Golden Hawk. An additional Hawk offering for 1958 was over at Packard dealerships, where it was sportiest of the four Packardbakers offered that year. 1958 was the last time any new Packards were offered.

The Final Golden Hawks were produced in 1958, riding lower on new 14-inch wheels. There were also new exterior emblems and two-tone paint schemes. For its final year, suspension and drivetrain changes meant the rear seat held three passengers instead of two. Just 878 Golden Hawks rolled off the line in 1958. Silver Hawks were offered in 1959, before a restyling and renaming to Hawk for 1960 and 1961. Further styling changes transformed the Hawk once more, and it became Gran Turismo Hawk for 1962 through 1964. By that point, Studebaker was winding down its model line before full closure in 1967.

Today’s lovely gold and white Rare Ride comes up at the Sotheby’s auction on August 29th, and is estimated to go for between $30,000 and $40,000.

[Images: Sotheby’s]

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39 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Very Luxurious 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk...”


  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Nice car. One of the great cars of its time along with the Avanti. Studebaker started out building wagons and many of the settlers went out West in Studebaker wagons.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This was a pretty interesting car and I hear pretty fast for it’s time. What’s even rarer was Studebaker rebadged this as a Packard Hawk

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f6/64/75/f66475e16bdc39f57afe50452428340c.jpg

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Studebaker (US: /ˈstuːdəbeɪkər/ STEW-də-bay-kər) was an American automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868[1] as the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the firm was originally a producer of wagons, buggies, carriages and harnesses. Studebaker continued to manufacture other diversified products after automobile production ceased in 1966.

    Studebaker entered the automotive business in 1902 with electric vehicles and in 1904 with gasoline vehicles, all sold under the name “Studebaker Automobile Company”. Until 1911, its automotive division operated in partnership with the Garford Company of Elyria, Ohio, and after 1909 with the E-M-F Company. The first gasoline automobiles to be fully manufactured by Studebaker were marketed in August 1912.[2]:p231 Over the next 50 years, the company established a reputation for good quality and reliability.[3]

    After years of financial problems, the company merged in 1954 with luxury carmaker Packard to form the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. However, Studebaker’s financial problems were worse than the Packard executives had thought. The Packard marque was phased out, and the company returned to the Studebaker Corporation name in 1962. The South Bend plant ceased production on December 20, 1963, and the last Studebaker automobile rolled off the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, assembly line on March 17, 1966. Studebaker continued as an independent company until merging with Wagner Electric in May 1967 and then Worthington Corporation in November 1967. Wikipedia.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I always wonder how Packard would have ended up if they never merged with Studebaker.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Like Saab I would assume.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Packard’s fate was already sealed in 1935, with the introduction of the 120 model (the first of the mid-priced “Junior” series cars). Maybe it helped Packard survive the Depression, but it also cheapened the brand.

        • 0 avatar

          Packard was out of touch and stodgy after the War. They wouldn’t have made it.

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            True – the bathtub series cars were boring, and as an independent they didn’t have the development money they needed to design new products.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I often wondered about this, how can a company like Mercedes-Benz survive even thrive with cars at all price points, but when other luxury car companies reach down-market to help it’s bottom line it’s the kiss of death? Why couldn’t they build both and succeed?

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          They really needed to do the 120. Cadillac and Lincoln could survive the Depression because the same companies made Chevys and Fords. Packard didn’t have that luxury so they had to move downmarket somehow. But while less expensive, the 120 was reliable, mechanically up to date, and nicely styled. New management actually let the traditional more expensive cars not keep up technologically, and they were dropped entirely after the war.

          It was really in the late ’40s when Packard completely dropped the ball. After a decade when the economy was awful, followed by WW2 when cars weren’t even being built, finally we were at peace and the economy was good. Never before or since has there been as good a time to sell cars as the late ’40s. *Everybody* wanted a new car and they finally had money to buy one. The problem was, it took awhile to convert the factories from military production back to cars, parts and materials from suppliers were scarce, and the labor unions took full advantage of the situation to up their wages (GM took a long strike instead). You could sell anything with four wheels and a steering wheel in 1946 and pick your price. This is when Packard should have gone back to making luxurious high-priced cars and reclaim their exclusivity and prestige. Instead, they continued building lower-priced, much plainer cars hoping to make up the difference in volume, which wasn’t possible at the time. Packard also didn’t want to spend the money for new postwar bodies to keep their cars looking fresh against redesigned Cadillacs because they had brought out all-new designs just before the war cut off production in 1942. Instead, they did a major facelift of the existing design that tried to disguise the now-out-of-style pontoon fenders. The result looked ponderous, weighed 200 lbs more, and wound up costing almost as much as new bodies would have. Buyers turned to the newer-looking, flashier Cadillacs which also got a modern, powerful V8, something Packard didn’t get around to until 1955. Packard finally dumped the prewar bodies in 1951, with a new design that looked modern but still too plain and conservative. By now, supply had caught up to demand, but by then Packards were unsurprising considered dowdy and old fashioned, and they never recovered.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ la834 – I think we’ve read some of the same sources on Packard. One other issue: Developing an in-house automatic. From what I understand, Ultramatic was a decent effort, but it was subject to teething problems that Packard’s waning dealer network couldn’t troubleshoot well enough. They probably would have been better off collaborating with Borg-Warner or other independents or swallowing their pride and sourcing Hydra-Matics or Dynaflows.

            Interesting innovation that I’m mildly surprised didn’t get picked up by someone else: Torsion-Level suspension. While the ride leveling aspect of it is the neat party trick that people see at car shows, what’s really cool is the fact that the torsion bars are interconnected and that the front and rear suspensions work in concert. It seems to be more than a gimmick and actually to offer some advantages over conventional suspensions. (Disclaimer: I’ve never ridden in a Torsion-Level-equipped car.)

            It’s a shame the three P’s went away, as I think their presence influenced other US makers to up their quality.

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            Yes, loads of innovation in the ’55 and ’56 Packards, which may have saved them if they hadn’t bought Studebaker. The torsion level suspension basically prepared the rear wheels for the bump or pothole the front wheels just went over to help smooth the ride. Also new – the world’s first limited slip differential, very nice new styling inside and out (by Dick Teague), the new V8, an additional gear in the Ultramatic which now could be controlled by electronic pushbuttons. They had to quickly start building their own bodies after Briggs who used to build them got sold to Chrysler the year before, and for some reason they decided to move everything to a new factory that proved too small – lots more teething problems with the new plant, new engine, suspension, transmission all at once.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        I always wonder how both would’ve ended up if they had merged with Nash/Hudson and become part of AMC, as George Romney proposed. They might still be around today.

        • 0 avatar
          WildcatMatt

          I thought George Mason was the driving force behind the proposed Nash/Hudson/Studebaker/Packard merger. Mason died after merging Nash and Hudson before the remaining deals could go forward. What’s interesting is that George Romney took over and immediately stopped the merger talks.

          If the 4-way merger had taken place, there still would have been brand contraction especially after the ’58 recession. Packard probably would have been maintained as a brand, and Nash/Hudson would still have become Rambler.

          That leaves Studebaker, whose fate I think would turn on whether the larger company would want to split their offerings between smaller/low-price Ramblers and full size/luxury Packards with nothing in the middle, or whether they would have wanted to fill that gap.

          A more interesting question, to me, is how different things would have been had George Romney stayed on rather than leaving to pursue politics in ’62. When he stepped away, AMC was cash-positive with a clean balance sheet. After Roy Abernethy took over, the company lost focus and things were never the same afterward.

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            It’s possible the financial problems at Studebaker would have brought down the whole 4-way merged company too. Merging it all together, with few shared parts, management and plants in different states, and lots of clashing egos was bound to be difficult. Also, would this company, if still around by 1970, have still bought Jeep? If not, would someone else have? (Ford? GM? Some Chinese company? IH?)

  • avatar
    2manycars

    Minor correction, Studebaker shut down car manufacturing in 1966, not 1967. (There were plans for 1967 and beyond but those never came about.)

    Contrary to what many seem to believe the company did not go out of business though. It had become a small conglomerate, investing profits from the Lark to diversify into other industries. The board scuttled the money-losing car division to concentrate on its profitable operations.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wasn’t there an available 4 speed floor shift manual too?

    Kind of out of character for a proto-PLC but that’s the one I would have wanted. Supercharged with manual trans and “TWIN-TRACTION” limited slip.

    God I miss when marketing came up with great names for features.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Studebaker story/history is long and convoluted. As @JeffS posted many of the pioneers of the American West travelled in Studebaker wagons. It can be claimed that part of Studebakers’ vehicle manufacturing lineage still exists as AM General.

    But the Board of Studebaker were more interested in maximizing profits by diversifying and selling off assets than in running a car company.

    The final 2 years of production run Studebakers in Hamilton were manufactured/assembled with GM engines. And with production of 20,000 vehicles, the Hamilton plant was breaking even or even turning a small profit.

    Gordon Grundy from Studebaker Canada was close to finalizing a deal with Datsun/Nissan to be the sole importer of their vehicles to North America and to brand them as Studebakers. However some others/polticos got involved, had Grundy also contact Toyota and when both Japanese companies discovered Studebaker’s duplicity they both cancelled.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Honest question about Studebakers. Who bought them? I realize this example is expensive, so lawyer, stockbroker, etc.? As for other more mid range sedans, etc., I’ve never gotten a sense of the Studebaker demographic when they were new, nor what their modern day model equivalents would be. So is this particular car kind of like a BMW 4 series coupe, or more like what we used to call personal luxury coupes?

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Studebaker by MY 1957 came up with a line of cars and trucks called the Scotsman that undercut the competition. Even Eleanor Roosevelt bought a Scotsman car that came with one windshield wiper, a drivers visor only, no dome light, optional AM radio, and optional heater.

      When Studebaker-Packard’s financial situation worsened in 1955 and 1956, company leaders decided, rather than meet the “Big Three” automakers head-on, to compete with low-priced, basic transportation. Using the Studebaker Champion’s two- and four-door sedan and two-door station-wagon bodies, the company created a vehicle which could undercut the prices of minimal-frill competitors the Chevrolet 150, Ford Custom and Plymouth Plaza. The Scotsman had features reminiscent of the “blackout” cars of the shortened 1942 model year, from which chrome trim was eliminated by war-materials rationing, though such refinements have been added by latter-day enthusiasts.[2][3]

      Studebaker Scotsman (5510490522).jpg
      Hubcaps and grille were painted; buyers paid extra for a basic recirculating heater for the passenger compartment. Interiors were fitted with painted cardboard panels—gray vinyl being the single standard for upholstery. Rubberized floor coverings replaced carpeting. The only chrome plating was on the front and rear bumpers and some minor interior parts. Painted bumpers were an option to reduce the cost of the car even further. On two-door models, the rear windows were fixed without winders. Standard windshield wipers were vacuum-powered, resulting in reduced performance as engine load increased. The only apparent frill was Studebaker’s heavily promoted “Cyclops Eye” speedometer, the same as that used on the 1956 Studebakers. Dealers were instructed to avoid installing extra-cost accessories, on the rationale that a buyer who wanted frills on an economical car could buy a regular Champion for an extra $200.[citation needed]

      Priced below the competition from $1,776 (equal to $15,843 today) for the two-door sedan, Scotsman sales were projected at 4,000 cars for the short 1957 model year. In fact, over 9,000 were sold—not only to frugal or low-budget customers but also to wealthy notables such as former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.[citation needed] For, despite its austerity, the Scotsman delivered exceptional value and economy. The small six-cylinder engine delivered a claimed 30 mpg‑US (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg‑imp) of gasoline when the overdrive transmission was chosen. This was unheard-of mileage for a car of its size in 1957, although it came at a price: With only 101 hp (75 kW), the Scotsman was by no means a rip-roaring performer. It took about 20 seconds to reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from rest, at a time when sub-10-second 0-60 mph times were becoming more common, even among the low-priced field. However, it appears that few complained about poor performance in the early days of the Interstate highway.

      Following up on the initial success of the first Scotsman, the 1958 models were changed little. An ever-so-slightly altered grille and round taillamp lenses were adopted, which allowed the company to keep prices as inexpensive as possible. Although the 1958 Champion received added-on tailfins in the back and fender-mounted pods up front to accept four headlamps (two per side) as was the trend in ’58, the Scotsman remained finless in the rear and kept the old dual headlamp system. Promotional materials now referred to the “Studebaker Scotsman” rather than “Studebaker Champion Scotsman”, a promotion of sorts from a sub-series to a model in its own right.

      n a push to increase fleet sales, Studebaker also offered the Econ-o-miler in 1958, based on the body of the 120.5 in (3,060 mm) wheelbase President sedan. The Econ-o-miler used the Scotsman’s frugal exterior and interior elements and was pushed as a taxi model. In addition, Studebaker’s police-package cars in 1958 were often Scotsmans with Commander and President V-8 engines.[citation needed]

      The Scotsman, which got off to a great start for ’57, continued its success in 1958, outselling the Champion, Commander and President lines combined. The Scotsman proved that Studebaker need not attempt to follow the styling trends of the rest of the industry. Building on the Scotsman’s clean-lined look, Studebaker engineers and designers quickly and cheaply created a new compact car for 1959, the Lark, not as austere as the Scotsman, but able to seat six adults in a package markedly different from its competitors at the time.

      o serve a target market for a low-priced, basic pickup truck, Studebaker produced a Scotsman truck based on the lines of the 1949-53 style of grille and front-end sheetmetal, with a few modifications. Most trucks in the 1950s had as standard one tail-lamp, one interior sun visor, one windshield wiper, and one arm-rest—all on the driver’s side. The Scotsman followed this philosophy with one exception: there was no arm-rest. Externally, the Scotsman had simple plaid decals and no chrome trim.

      Stripping to a more basic level allowed Studebaker to advertise the lowest-priced pickup in the U.S. in 1958; it cost less than $1,500 to drive home a standard Scotsman pickup. The model sold reasonably well, though the general car and truck market was down in 1958.[citation needed]

      The Scotsman truck, unlike the car, was continued in 1959, exchanging its plaid decal nameplates for chromed “S” and “Studebaker” emblems. An inexpensive “Deluxe Equipment Group” enabled buyers to fit their Scotsmans with the same grille and front sheetmetal as the regular Studebaker trucks. Two new models were added as well, although these were comprised simply of additional engines from which to choose. More pickups were sold than the standard “Deluxe” line.[citation needed]

      The Scotsman was replaced for the 1960 model year by the Studebaker Champ pickup, which was based on the same truck chassis but with a cab derived from the contemporary Lark four-door sedan.

      Wikipedia

      This was just a little too late. One of Studebaker’s holdings was STP. I read somewhere that the redesigned 67 Chevy and GMC pickups were originally designed for Studebaker.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      More to the OPs question, I’m not entirely sure of Studebaker’s market demo, but my great-Uncle apparently owned a few. His last one was a 1962 Lark V8 four door. “Uncle Joe” was solidly middle class. I think that they had fairly loyal buyers, but after a certain point, the stench of death was on them.

      I have to imagine that in the immediate post-war era, these were upscale cars. I would also imagine that many of the customers were middle class and upper middle class at the start of the 1950’s. But by the mid-50’s GM/Ford price war, many of the independents were mortally wounded and it seems they had to go downmarket to survive. I’m sure they could not see the tsunami of cheap imports and domestic compacts that were about to hit them and merged furiously in an attempt to keep up. We all know the outcome.

      When my Great-Uncle passed in 1970, it was offered for free to my oldest brother, then 17. He claimed he wouldn’t have enough money to maintain and insure it, but he really didn’t want it as the “old man” association was too strong.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My father bought a used 58 Studebaker Champion used in 59 when he needed a second car. Three on the tree, one sun visor, no dome light, fixed rear passenger windows, no radio, but it might have had a heater. The car had lots of cardboard in the inside (don’t complain about the amount of hard plastics cardboard the thickness of cardboard used to fold dry cleaned shirts is much worse). My older brother tore it up which was not hard to do. Straight 6 flathead with not much more power than a riding lawnmower. Appliance white with tan semi cloth and vinyl interior. Silver painted hubcaps, grill, rear bumper, and tail light trim with no chrome except the front bumper. One of my brothers painted the grill and hubs gold with a rattle can and my father sold it for a couple of hundred dollars and then ordered a new Roman Red 62 Chevy II in Sept. 61. One of the few cars that my father owned that he was happy to get rid of.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Not Champion I meant Scotsman the cheapest of the cheapest. Remembering that car I will never complain about another strip down car because it was the ultimate strip down car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe the interior was gray and I believe the front bumper was painted silver. I was the most stipped down car I was ever in not even a cigarette lighter but it did have a spare tire. Everything that was silver got painted gold by my middle brother and the new owner loved the gold. It had originally been bought by a real estate agent–maybe to cheap even for a real estate agent.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @spookiness–To answer your question more like an Impala SS, Ford XL 500 coupe, Plymouth Sport Fury, or Chrysler 300. You could get this car with turbo charging.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Beautiful! Great it see it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @spookiness–I am going to revise my comparison and say the Golden Hawk was more like a T-Bird or a Grand Prix not just personal luxury but add performance.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    My father had a Hawk of some sort for a short while in the late 1950s. It was all white. When it was gone I remember asking why. He said there was something mechanical wrong with it. Since I was about six years old I had little understanding of such things.
    I don’t recall what came directly after the Hawk, but later he had a couple of Lark convertibles. Then a TR4A, a Sunbeam Tiger 260, and an Alfa Duetto Spider.
    Of course I wish someone had given me a warehouse to store them all. Always wonder which one would sell for more today.
    BTW for the demographic question, he was a college professor when he had the Hawk.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True the Golden Hawk predated the T-Bird and the Gran Prix but that is the closest comparison I could think of to what the Hawk represented. The 4 seat T-Bird first appeared in MY 1958 and the Grand Prix 1962. But the Avanti introduced in 1962 was even more unique predating most of the personal luxury cars and performance cars if you count Mustang, Camaro, Grand Prix, Chevelle SS, Monte Carlo, Olds 442, GTO, Cougar and most Mopars. The Corvette predated both the Golden Hawk and the Avanti but the Corvette would be considered more sports car than luxury.


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