In 1872, the wagon-building Studebaker brothers of South Bend, Indiana made a bold claim by declaring themselves 'The Largest Vehicle Builders in the World.' A short time later, they would enter the automobile business. During the Civil War, they made a hefty fortune supplying the army of the North, and during the Boer Wars they supplied the British military forces.
The development of the Studebaker automobile was slow and leisurely. They were content in their horse-drawn field and it is believed that they reluctantly entered the automotive arena as its popularity increased. By the early teens, sales were rising steadily from year to year. Vice-President Albert Russel Erskine took over the Studebaker presidency of Fred Fish in July 1915. The engineering department was handled by Fred M. Zeder, Owen R. Skelton, and Carl Breer. They were responsible for the first postwar Studebakers. They soon left the company to work for Walter P. Chrysler.
The company emerged from World War II in strong financial standings. This would soon change as profits began to fall during the 1950s and the company experienced a gradual decline. Nevertheless, the company continued to introduce attractive and distinct models, such as the low-slung Loewy coupes in 1953, available in the Starliner and Starlight variants. A few years later, in 1955, a Speedster version was introduced in the top-of-the-line President Series, and was continued in essence the following year in the Hawk Series. Brook Stevens, a brilliant designer, was the individual responsible for the Hawk. He transformed older models into modern machinery by applying new fenders on all four corners, altered the roofline, hood and deck lines, added a Mercedes-Benz style grille, and fitted aluminum rocker covers to slim down the body. The result was a modern 2+2 that would be offered in several models and powertrains.
From 1956 to 1958, Studebaker's top-model was the Golden Hawk, which was available only with the Paxton supercharged 289 cubic-inch overhead valve V8 that offered 275 horsepower at 4800 RPM. There was a Flight-O-Matic automatic transmission and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The hardtop versions of the Golden Hawk, Sky Hawk, and Flight Hawk were based on the original 1953 Starliner body.
The five-passenger Gold Hawk was Studebaker's sports car putting it in competition with Chevrolet's Corvette and Ford's Thunderbird.
This particular car is painted in black with white rear fender fin inserts and black and white upholstery. It has been given a cosmetic restoration since new, rides on wide whitewall tires and chrome wire wheels, and has a wheelbase that measures 120.5-inches. There is an optional radio and heater and a light colored interior.
At the 2009 Houston Classic Auction in Seabrook, Texas, presented by Worldwide Auctioneers, this Golden Hawk was estimated to sell for $48,000 - $58,000. Bidding reached $33,000 but was not enough to satisfy the car's reserve. The lot was left unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2009