The Studebaker Golden Hawk was produced from 1956 through 1958. The styling was influenced by Raymond Loewy's design studio who used the shape of the Champion and Commander of the early 1950's as its beginning point. The Golden Hawk had an egg-crate grille and a pointed front end nose. In the rear were tailfins with integrated tail lights. The brake light and backup-light were stacked in the rear. The rear window was wrap-around. There were a variety of colors to select from, including the popular two-tone color schemes.
Under the hood was a Packard 352 cubic-inch V8 engine rated at 275 horsepower. With its low body weight and powerful engine, the Golden Hawk could race from zero-to-sixty in around 7.8 seconds and reach top speed at 125 mph. A McCulloch supercharger was later added which raised horsepower to 275. A fiberglass overlay on the hood was added which provided extra room for the supercharger.
In 1956 there were four Hawk models to select from, the Golden Hawk, Flight Hawk Coupe, Power Hawk Coup, and the Sky Hawk hardtop.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
A two-door pillarless hardtop coupe type vehicle, the Studebaker Golden Hawk was produced in South Bend, Indiana from 1956 through 1958. This was the final Studebaker until the introduction of the Avanti that had its styling influenced by industrial designer Raymond Loewy's studio. The Golden Hawk featured the basic shape of the 1953-55 Champion/Commander Starliner hardtop coupe but featured a large, nearly vertical egg-crate grille and raised hoodline rather than the previous vehicles swooping, pointed nose. The rear of the vehicle featured a raised, squared-off trunk lid instead of the earlier sloped lid and new vertical fiberglass tailfins were added to the rear quarters.
To give room for a larger engine, the raised hood and grille were added to allow for Packard's large 352 in³ (5.8 L) V8 which delivered 275 bhp (205 kW). Because the Golden Hawk was so light, this big, heavy engine gave the vehicle an amazing power-to-weight ratio for the time period. The Golden Hawk was second only to the Chrysler 300 B in 1956 American car production, and the pricy Chrysler was a road-legal NASCAR racing car. Much like the Chryslers, the Golden Hawk could be considered a precursor to the muscle cars of the 1960s.
The Golden Hawk with its heavy engine came with a bad reputation for poor handling and being nose heavy. Many of the road tests were done by racing drivers and found that the Golden Hawk could out-perform the Ford Thunderbird, Chevy Corvette, and the Ford Thunderbird in both 0-60 mph acceleration and quarter-mile times. The fastest reported time in magazine testing was 7.8 seconds while top speeds were quoted at 125 mph.
A large variety of colors that included two-tone were available for this year. Initially, two-tone schemes involved the front upper body, while the roof and a panel on the tail were painted the contrasting color while the rest of the body was the base color. For 1956 the upper body above the tail-line, including the trunk was painted the contrast color with the tail panel in 1956 while the roof and body below the beltline trim were painted the base color.
To keep the prices down, an increased options list and reduced standard equipment were used in comparison to the earlier year's Studebaker President Speedster which was replaced by the Golden Hawk. Turn signals were even an option, technically. In 1956 the Golden Hawk was matched with three other Hawk models and was the only Hawk not technically considered a sub-model within one of Studebaker's regular passenger car lines. The Flight Hawk coupe was a Champion, the Sky Hawk hardtop was a President and the Power Hawk coupe was a Commander.
For 1957 and 1958 the Golden Hawk continued on with minor changes. Eventually sold to Curtiss-Wright, Packard's Utica, Michigan engine plant was leased during 1956 and marked the end of genuine Packard production. For two more years, Packard-badged vehicles were produced, though they were basically dolled-up Studebakers.
The Packard V8 was no longer available and was replaced by the Studebaker 289 in³ (4.7 L) V-8. A McCulloch supercharger was also added to the lineup and gave the same 275 horsepower 205 kW) output as the Packard engine. The cars maximum speed was improved and now the best-performing Hawks (before the Gran Turismo Hawk) was improved and was now available with the Avanti's R2 supercharged engine for the 1963 model year.
For the 1957 model year, the Golden Hawk featured some updated styling. A new fiberglass overlay was added to the vehicle and now covered a hole in the hood that was needed to clear the supercharger, which was placed high on the front of the engine. The tailfins were now made of metal and were concave and swept out from the sides of the vehicle. Normally painted a contrasting color, the fins were outlined in chrome trim, though some solid-color models were built.
A luxury 400 model was unveiled halfway through the 1957 model year. It featured a fully upholstered trunk, unique trim, and a leather interior. Only 41 models were ever produced and today only a few models are still believed to be in existence.
The Golden Hawk received 14-inch (356 mm) wheels in place of the 15-inch (381 mm)
And due to this the car now rode slightly lower. The 15-inch wheels were still available as an option though. A new, round Hawk medallion was mounted in the lower center of the grille and new contrasting-color paint was available as an option in both the roof and tailfin application.
For 1958 a few minor engineering updates were made for the Golden Hawk that included revisions to the suspension and driveshaft that now allowed designers to create a three-passenger rear seat. Previous models had only featured seating for two passengers in the rear due to the high driveshaft 'hump' that necessitated dividing the seat. A fixed armrest was also placed between the rear passengers in earlier models and was later made removable due to customer requests.
Unfortunately in the late 1950's, sales were drastically hit much like many of the expensive vehicles. The model was discontinued after only 878 models were ever sold in 1958. The only Hawk model was the Silver Hawk and was renamed simply the Studebaker Hawk for the 1960 model year.By Jessica Donaldson