Even as Studebaker-Packard struggled against the might of GM, Ford and Chrysler, they still managed to produce some truly great cars in the face of adversity. The Studebaker Golden Hawk of 1956-1958 is one of those cars, and though it was based on the older Champion/Commander series, the Golden Hawk still had a few tricks up its sleeve for ’56. Most notable was revised styling courtesy of Raymond Loewy’s studio, featuring a larger, more upright grille and fiberglass vestigial tail fins that helped keep the design in line with contemporary trends. The front end design was more than just cosmetic, however- it was necessary to make room for Packard’s fantastic 352 cubic inch V8 engine. This big bruiser of an engine put out 275 horsepower, making the light weight Golden Hawk one of the fastest American production cars of the time – one that could give Chrysler’s legendary Hemi-powered 300 B a run for its money. It was a true muscle car ahead of its time. Less than a decade later, time and resources would run out for Studebaker-Packard, with the company not seeing the end of the 1960s. Thankfully the engineers and designers did the best with what they had – and as it turned out, they managed to accomplish quite a lot.
This attractive ’56 Golden Hawk is a highly original, low mileage car that comes to us via a local couple who cared for it with great enthusiasm. This 35,584 mile example is presented in a rare and pleasing color combination of white top surfaces over dark metallic green body sides and roof. The two tone color scheme emphasizes the Raymond Loewy-penned lines; long, low and crisp. Paint quality is very good, with consistent shut lines and pleasing details. The chrome is mostly original and totally complete, with some parts being restored as necessary. It is clear that the car has had some restoration work done as needed over the years, but has never been stripped down to every last nut and bolt. As a result, it has a solid, original feel that only the best cared-for cars seem to possess.
The color scheme carries over to the interior, where green and white upholstery is accented by sporty patterned alloy panels on the dash and door cards. Upholstery is in very good condition, with restored seats blending in nicely with original door panels and trim. The simple dash is a standout among the typical over-wrought designs of the era, with clear, concise instrumentation, a factory radio, and little else to distract occupants from the business of driving. On the subject of driving, there is plenty of power to be had from the original Packard V8. The engine is very nicely detailed to a good standard, with beautiful chrome “Packard” script valve covers as well as correct clamps and wiring. There are some minor flaws on the fan shroud and ancillaries, but they are in keeping with the well-preserved and original nature of this car.
This is a charming car that delivers a great drive and maintains high degree of originality. The original selling dealer’s sticker still remains on the rear bumper and an original tax sticker from 1965 is still displayed in the window, showing it has been a local car all of these years. This rare Studebaker will be a sure bet at local car shows, Studebaker-Packard meets or simply for turning heads on the street. It is solid, handsome and well kept, ready for its next keeper to cherish it the same way the last owners have.