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Studebaker Golden Hawk

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1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk
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1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

The Studebaker Golden Hawk was a two-door pillarless hardtop coupe type car produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana between 1956 and 1958. The last Studebaker until the Avanti to have styling influenced by industrial designer Raymond Loewy's studio, the Golden Hawk took the basic shape of the 1953-on Champion/Commander Starliner hardtop coupe but added a large, almost vertical eggcrate grille and raised hoodline in place of the earlier car's swooping, pointed nose, as well as a raised trunklid and befinned rear quarters.

That grille and raised hood were to take a larger engine, Packard's big 352 in³ (5.8 L) V8 at 275 bhp (205 kW). This big, powerful engine in such a light car gave the Golden Hawk a phenomenal power to weight ratio (and thus performance) for the time; of 1956 American production cars, the Golden Hawk was second only to Chrysler's 300 B by that measure - and the expensive Chrysler was a road-legal NASCAR racing car. The Golden Hawk can be considered, like the Chryslers, a precursor to the muscle cars of the 1960s. The heavy engine gave the car a reputation for being nose-heavy and poor handling, but road tests of the time disagreed. Speed Age magazine of July 1956 tested the Golden Hawk against the Chrysler 300 B, Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette, finding that the Golden Hawk could out-perform the others comfortably in both 0-60 mph acceleration and quarter mile times. The fastest 0-60 reported in magazine testing was 7.8 seconds, while top speeds were quoted as 125 mph plus.

A wide variety of colors (including two-tone, befitting the times) were available. Two-tone schemes initially involved the front upper body, the roof and a panel on the tail being painted the contrast color, with the rest of the body the base color. Later 1956 production had the upper body above the belt line, including the trunk, as the contrast color with the tail panel, roof and the body below the belt line trim being the base color.

An increased options list and reduced standard equipment were used to keep prices down compared to the previous year's Studebaker President Speedster, which the Golden Hawk replaced. Even turn signals were technically an option.

The Golden Hawk was matched with three other Hawk models for that year, but each of those was a model within one of Studebaker's regular passenger car lines; the Flight Hawk was a Champion, the Power Hawk was a Commander and the Sky Hawk was a President. Fundamentally, these were just the two-door hardtop coupe models of these lines with the Golden Hawk's hood and radiator shell.

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Studebaker_Golden_Hawk_late.jpg
1957 Golden Hawk

The car was continued for the 1957 and 1958 model years, but with some changes. Packard's Utica, Michigan plant was leased to Curtiss-Wright during 1956 (and eventually sold to them), marking the end of genuine Packard production. Packard-badged cars were produced for two more years, but they were essentially Studebakers dressed up. The Packard V8, introduced in only 1955, was therefore no longer available and it was replaced with the Studebaker 289 in³ (4.7 L) small-block V8 with the addition of a McCulloch supercharger, giving more or less the same power output as the Packard engine but weighing approximately 180 pounds (82 kg) less. This improved the handling and top speed, making these the best-performing Hawks until the GT Hawk of 1962.

1957 Golden Hawk tailfins
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1957 Golden Hawk tailfins

Styling also changed somewhat; a distinctive hood bulge starting a foot or so back from the grille and stretching all the way to the back of the hood betrayed the supercharger's presence. The tailfins were larger and concave on the sides, and those sides were outlined in chrome trim and painted a contrasting color. 1958's Golden Hawk had 14 inch (356 mm) wheels instead of 15 inch (381 mm), making the car ride a little lower, but were otherwise unchanged.

The other models in the Hawk range changed in 1957; the Golden Hawk took over for the Sky Hawk as well, and a new Silver Hawk replaced the Flight Hawk in a 6-cylinder model and the Power Hawk in an 8-cylinder model.

Halfway through the 1957 model year, a luxury 400 model was introduced, featuring a leather interior, a fully upholstered trunk, and special trim.

Like many more expensive cars, Golden Hawk sales were heavily hit by the late-1950s recession, and the model was discontinued after only selling 878 examples in 1958. The Silver Hawk remained as the only Hawk model; it was renamed as simply the Studebaker Hawk for the 1960 model year.

External links


Studebaker-Packard Hawk series
Studebaker:Golden Hawk - Sky Hawk - Power Hawk - Flight Hawk - Silver Hawk - Hawk - GT Hawk
Packard:Hawk
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