balthazar

Studebaker GT Hawk, 1962-1964

25 posts in this topic

balthazar    1,876

Let's take a look at the now-classic GT Hawk, Studebaker's 'personal luxury' coupe :

 

1962-Studebaker-GT-Hawkad06.jpg

 

 

Naturally, we have to backtrack before we can backtrack. ;) Hang on...

 

- - - - -

The GT Hawk traces it's roots to the full-classic '53 Studebaker coupe, designed under the leadership of famed industrial designer (and previous Studebaker designer) Raymond Loewy. The coupe was available in both Stude's series, the Champion and the Commander, in 3 different trim levels and was also available in a 2-dr sedan (with B-Pillar) and the Starliner 2-dr hardtop.

 

studebaker%201953%20starliner%20coupe.jp

 

The 2-door '53 Stude was widely acclaimed at introduction, and sold extremely well :

 

~ 1953 ~

4-drs : 74,073

2-drs : 95,526

The year prior, the much-less-sleek '52 2-dr Stude sold 29K units.

 

For contrast, Chevy the same year (minus Corvette, converts & wagons) :

4-drs : 632,988

2-drs : 628,873

 
- - - - - 
So, Studebaker, with no where near the budgets of the Big 3, had this hit on it's hands. The Champion had an I-6, the Commander had a small 232 CI V8. 1954 and 1955 (with the addition of the chrome-laden President trim model) passes, and Stude readies a restyle.
 
1956 sees the introduction of the renamed and expanded Hawk line, including the Flight Hawk (in the base Champion series), the Power Hawk (Commander Series), the Sky Hawk (President Series) and the stand-alone Golden Hawk. At this point Studebaker was paired with Packard, and got the Packard 352 V8, supercharged, for the Golden Hawk, up from the '53's 120 HP to 275 HP. Total Hawk sales for '56 was 19,165.
 
Here's the bulk of the Hawk's restyle versus the '53-55 body; basically a new front grille/hood, an a bunch of flashy 2-tone paint jobs. The Golden Hawk also gained (fiberglass) fins out back. 1956 Golden Hawk :
 
AF10_r1245_01.jpg
 
1957 comes, and all Hawks gain rear fins. Studebaker took a hard hit with the 1958 recession, but resilient as the Corporation traditionally was, it bounced back with another hit, the '59 Lark. Perhaps they were more focused on the Lark, because the Hawk line soldiered on with less attention; loosing the top-shelf Golden Hawk and it's supercharger, not to mention all 2-tone paint jobs, in 1959. Though there were naturally engineering & trim changes, 1960 and 1961 were basically 'Hawk on Hold' years. By 1961, Hawk sales were down to 3,929. In fact, if you happen to own a '61 Hawk 6, you have 1 of 266 units.
 
- - - - -
Finally, in 1962, the (again-reskinned '53) Brooks Stevens designed Gran Turismo Hawk debuted. Once again it garnered industry attention, with it's formal roofline and sharper body lines, sans fins now. GT Hawk was right in the same vein (tho a year earlier) as the minimal trim/ formal roofline '63 Pontiac Grand Prix. The model was re-simplified into a 6-cylinder (only sold outside the U.S.) and a V8, and sales climbed to 9,335. It was not low-priced model, sticking for $3095 ('62 Grand Prix was $3490). It also featured a redesigned interior, with full gauges, wood & aluminum trim, and the new craze; bucket seats with a floor shift. 
 
1962-Studebaker-Hawk-GT-interior-626x382
 
It was a beauty, and fell right into the meat of Studebaker's performance push, introduced and driven by the upcoming '63 Avanti.
 
63StudebakerLarkHawkad.jpg
 
1963 saw the famous 'R' engined Studebakers appear; in '63 there was the R-1 289 V8 with 240 HP, the R-2 supercharged 289 with 289 HP.
1964 saw the addition of the supercharged R-3 305 V8, with 335 HP, and the dual quad carbureted 305 rated at 280 HP. 
 
According to this online ad, Studebaker assembled (70) R-2 'Super Hawks' in '64. This gorgeous example sold for $55K :
 
4.jpg?fit=1024%2C536
 
- - - - -
Some may ask, was the Hawk series 'supposed to save' Studebaker?
Well, in this writer's opinion, that's an invalid question. In a multi-car, corporate catalog, it's tough to have a perfect scenario where all other lines fail and 1 shining star comes forth to 'save the day'.
 
Studebaker, the only successful carriage maker to transition to automobile production, had a good long run (1852-1966), but like all good things, came to an end. It's easy to dub the story 'they went out with a bang', what with the Avanti, the GT Hawk, and the wholly competent Lark, but it wasn't quite enough. Stude's last 2 years were relegated to their Canadian plant, and after '64, all previous models and any semblance of performance was dropped. 
Edited by balthazar
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Suaviloquent    713

Interesting Story time!!!

 

We need more story time whenever possible. Way better than commenting on cat video or Big 3 middle finger time.

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dfelt    1,773

Love this, awesome job. Anyone have any pictures of what their supercharged motors looked like back then?

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Drew Dowdell    4,992

So these were only 2-doors then?  I'm not sure why I thought there were 4-door models of these.  They were attractive cars, I guess I expected them to do much better. 

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dfelt    1,773

Here's one :

 

176955_Engine_Web.jpg

That is very cool.

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balthazar    1,876

So these were only 2-doors then?  I'm not sure why I thought there were 4-door models of these.  They were attractive cars, I guess I expected them to do much better. 

Correct: all 'Hawks' were 2-doors, from '56 thru the GTs of '64.

 

But other Studebakers of the era certainly bore stylistic resemblance to the Hawks, for example; this '56 President :

56studebaker-1.jpg

 

But these are not the same series nor the same body shells.

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oldshurst442    986

Thanx Balthy for the thread.

My dad had a Studebaker.

This one:

2287_194356865645abbe7283664.jpg?itok=7U

 

Well, not that particular one...but a 1950 or 1951 Commander Starlight Coupe.

I think the model year that he owned was a 1951. I dont know any other details on the car.

That was his second car he has ever owned.

The first was an Oldsmobile....I dont know what model. I do know that it was the last model year before Oldsmobile shut down production for the war...it was an automatic and my dad bought it in Montreal right after he came back from the war from Germany in 1946. He stayed 1 year in the occupation of Germany

 

The Stubebaker was also bought after he came back from a war.  The Korean War.  He left Montreal and joined the USAAF in 1950 and his tour of duty ended in 1952. He bought the Studebaker in Boston.

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balthazar    1,876

The 'last model year before shutting down for WW2' would've been the rare and somewhat… erratic '42 Olds. Olds shut down their line Feb 5. 1942 to convert to wartime contracts.

1942+Oldsmobile+Brochure+-+grille+detail

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Drew Dowdell    4,992

 

So these were only 2-doors then?  I'm not sure why I thought there were 4-door models of these.  They were attractive cars, I guess I expected them to do much better. 

Correct: all 'Hawks' were 2-doors, from '56 thru the GTs of '64.

 

But other Studebakers of the era certainly bore stylistic resemblance to the Hawks, for example; this '56 President :

56studebaker-1.jpg

 

But these are not the same series nor the same body shells.

 

 

Na, so that looks downright dowdy to me compared to the Hawks.  Like "I really wanted a 1956 Ford CustomLine, but couldn't afford the payments..... so I got this...."

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oldshurst442    986

Bare in mind Balthy, that when I said that I know that it was an Oldsmobile's last model before shutting down for military production...this is information from a young 19-20 year old soldier returning back home from war and buying a used car from God knows who and God knows where?

Where did my dad's info on that Olds come from?

My info comes from my dad.

Could very well be that my dad knew this because he was more or less a  car guy....but it is known to me that he did make innocent mistakes on car years from time to time....and....I dont think after a horrendous war like that..bragging about a last model of a brand before shut down was a trophy case...

I do know that when production started up again.....THOSE are the cars that people showed off with...the brand new stylings of the good times in America post war cars......

 

Maybe the guy  that sold him the car made an innocent mistake?

 

Thanx for the additional information.

Edited by oldshurst442

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So these were only 2-doors then?  I'm not sure why I thought there were 4-door models of these.  They were attractive cars, I guess I expected them to do much better. 

Correct: all 'Hawks' were 2-doors, from '56 thru the GTs of '64.

 

But other Studebakers of the era certainly bore stylistic resemblance to the Hawks, for example; this '56 President :

56studebaker-1.jpg

 

But these are not the same series nor the same body shells.

 

 

Na, so that looks downright dowdy to me compared to the Hawks.  Like "I really wanted a 1956 Ford CustomLine, but couldn't afford the payments..... so I got this...."

 

The '53-55 regular Studebaker sedans and wagons had a very similar front end and rear end to the '53-55 coupes, and cleaner styling than the '56-58 ones which got tarted up... there was also available in an ultra cheapo model in the late 50s called the Scotsman.

 

'53 Commander Starliner hardtop coupe (from which the Hawk evolved):  1953-Studebaker-Commander-Starliner-Fron

 

'53 Starlight pillared coupe:

4096357895_83062fd550.jpg

 

'53 2dr sedan: 1953Commander_DeLuxe_2dr_sedan.jpg

 

 

 

 

'53 wagon: b79d2a3a63e32398319b6fc77193f68a.jpg

 

'53 Studebaker 4dr: 

Studebaker_Champion,_Dutch_licence_regis

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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To clarify, the 2dr sedan, 4dr and wagon were in the Champion, Commander and President lines...the Hawks were only 2dr coupes/2dr sedans.  I believe these 'regular' Studebakers shared dirty bits underneath, but had more upright and less sleek styling than the Hawks.

 

The '53-55 Studebaker Starliner and Starlight 2drs (not named as such in '55) were amongst the best styled 50s cars IMO...they looked so sleek compared to the humpy/frumpy cars the Big 3 had in '53...they were arguably one of the first 'personal luxury' cars, before that term came into use...

 

Here is a '57 Hawk...they took the '53-55 design, smoothed the doors, added fins and a big grille, not an improvement, IMO..

 

1957-golden-hawk-1.jpg

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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balthazar    1,876

^ Agreed, With the lineage here, Studebaker executed an inverse stylistic Bell Curve: the '53-55s were sweet, so was the 62-64 GTs, it was the in-between years of '56-61 were not so appealing.

Ironically, my son sent me a pic of a '59 Sky Hawk for sale he saw today.

 

- - - - -

I looked at a '57 Golden Hawk for sale a few years ago. It was interesting due to the unique touches, but still not to up to the level of the Big 3 specials.

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balthazar    1,876

Footnote:

 

In '55, Stude re-introduced the 'President' series, topping the Champion & Commander series.

Within that was the top-line President Speedster, which in addition to an engine-turned instrument panel & almost every optional feature as standard, it got some semi-garish 2-tone combos and a LOT of extra chrome, including the so-called 'butter knife' side trim. 

 

Not bad from the side but up front many lamented the dip in the plating pool:

27stude.jpg

 

2,215 were built, and they have a bit of a following among collectors today.

Edited by balthazar

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Another interesting Hawk variation was the 1958 Packard Hawk, sadly at the end of the road for a once proud marque..

 

packard-hawk-1958-10.jpg

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balthazar    1,876

The '58 Packard Hawk is all the more disappointing when a mere 2 years earlier they were building this :

 

Packard-Caribbean_Convertibl_mp279_pic_3

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William Maley    393

Footnote:

 

In '55, Stude re-introduced the 'President' series, topping the Champion & Commander series.

Within that was the top-line President Speedster, which in addition to an enginer-turned instrument panel & almost every optional feature as standard, it got some semi-garish 2-tone combos and a LOT of extra chrome, including the so-called 'butter knife' side trim. 

 

Not bad from the side but up front many lamented the dip in the plating pool:

27stude.jpg

 

2,215 were built, and they have a bit of a following among collectors today.

Speaking of garish two-tone combinations of the Speedster:

med_gallery_10485_435_1061574.jpg

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dfelt    1,773

The '58 Packard Hawk is all the more disappointing when a mere 2 years earlier they were building this :

 

Packard-Caribbean_Convertibl_mp279_pic_3

 

This is a Lovely Sexy auto!

 

Compare to this 1958 Packard Hawk.

 

post-12-0-60442100-1465921142_thumb.jpg

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Drew Dowdell    4,992

I like both.... I could easily see both sitting in the same showroom.  One is the swoopy luxury coupe, the other is a full size luxury convertible. 

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