Studebaker Hawk 1956-1964 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

studebaker golden hawk front angle studebaker golden hawk front angle

Sharp-looking Studebaker Hawk coupe wasn't enough to save the company

Anyone of toy-pushing age during the 1960s might recall a gleaming, electro-plated diecast Corgi model with Studebaker Golden Hawk emblazoned on its base.

In miniature or full size, the Hawk was an impressive car, with more performance than most of its kind at the time. And local versions were built right here in Melbourne.

Local content rules decreed these cars needed to arrive in crates from Studebaker’s North American warehouses. Then and where practical, items including trim, tyres, paint, glass and some mechanical parts were sourced locally, but the number of Hawks sold here made efforts to further increase local content unjustified.


The Hawk had been designed by legendary stylist Raymond Loewy and first appeared in 1953 as the sleek and fin-free Studebaker Starlight coupe, with a 4.0-litre V8 and lots of prospects.

For 1956 came Silver Hawk and Golden Hawk versions with a taller grille and tiny fibreglass tail fins that were exclusive to the model. A year later the fins had grown in size and were curving outwards, but the biggest changes lay behind the tall and awkward grille.

| Reader Resto: 1960 Studebaker Hawk


A frontal restyle was necessary as Studebaker in 1954 bought Packard including its 4.7-litre V8. It was taller than the Starlight engine and could be supercharged to 204kW and a top speed close to 190km/h. The new design was popular and sales during 1958 of Silver and Golden Hawks reached 14,000, including exports to markets such as ours.

Local assembly was undertaken by the Canada Cycle and Motor Company, which kept solvent by selling V8-engined Studebaker Larks as police vehicles. The Hawk, in fin-free GT form and with a supercharger would undoubtedly have been faster but also significantly more expensive than the smaller Lark A 1962 GT cost around £2600, or more than twice the price of a Holden. Our version had flashy hubcaps and stainless-steel body embellishments but inside was fairly plain, especially for something that cost similar to a modest suburban house.

| Read next: 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk GT


The metal dash was unpadded but packed with instruments including a tachometer. Power steering wasn’t an option, to reduce effort the big steering wheel spun through six turns from lock to lock. The vinyl front bench seat had folding backrests so passengers could wriggle into the rear area.

1963 saw Studebaker production move to Canada from Indiana, but it didn’t save the company. GT Hawks ended production in 1964 with fewer than 1800 made and some exported to Australia.

The majority of Hawks – Silver, Golden and GT – that survive here are in relatively good condition. Cars needing complete restoration are rarely seen, nor are they common in the USA.

| Watch next: 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire - video


Local suppliers keep basic parts, but less common items require online or in-person searches through US-based suppliers. Parts scarcity contributes to subdued demand and relatively low values across the Hawk population. Finding a car will be easiest by joining a Studebaker club or one catering to less common US brands. Keep your eyes open at All Makes vehicle shows, where cars that are rarely let out for a run might appear.

Value Range: Studebaker (Hawk GT)

Fair: $12,000
Good: $28,000
Excellent: $42,000
(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)



Body & chassis

Body rust is going to be an issue, with used panels very scarce and a limited range of rust repair sections available ex-USA. Look at floor pans (which are available), suspension attachment points and the lower firewall. Also check the top surfaces of mudguards, the wheel arches, lower doors, boot-lid and bonnet. Brightwork, be it chromed or stainless steel, isn’t easy to locate so make sure the bumpers, body mouldings and strips are in decent condition. Tail-light lenses and mounting bezels are available but landed in Australia a pair will likely cost around A$600. A used grille was advertised here at $180 and renovated hubcaps $400 per set.

Engine & transmission

These are under-stressed engines with neglect their worst enemy. Some new parts, including water and oil pumps, are available and full VRS gasket sets cost US$350. Cars that aren’t used often may overheat and need the cooling system flushed. Misfiring and backfiring warn of camshaft wear or ignition timing issues but you can buy a new distributor at less than US$500. Finding a supercharger seems close to impossible, however a used unit claimed to be complete was advertised late in 2022 at US$3400. The automatic transmission fitted to locally assembled Hawks was a proprietary Borg-Warner unit but the earlier Packard type will be harder to find. Avoid a car that thumps or shudders when downshifting.

Suspension & brakes

Basic coil front, leaf rear suspension design means easy maintenance and no serious durability issues. Replacements for wearing parts such as ball joints and bushings are still available at reasonable prices. Rear springs sag with age and repro replacements seem to be unavailable, so a set of New Old Stock springs for US$300 would have sold quickly. GT Hawks sold here had local power boosters which might make reconditioning easier. A car that demands inordinate pedal pressure will need the servo reconditioned. Other brake parts are available locally and in the USA, including re-sleeved master cylinders at $500.


Interior & electrics

The bench seat with its folding backrests might be difficult to adjust, so check it moves easily before test driving. Also, try the winders for both door windows which should open and close easily. The Hawk dash, steering wheel and seat structures need to be sound and essentially undamaged to avoid big restoration bills. Make sure that small parts like control knobs are present and the dial faces aren’t cracked. Reconditioned starter motors are available and a new wiper motor was offered for A$500.

1956 - 1964 Studebaker Hawk specs

NUMBER BUILT: 36,996 (Silver & Golden Hawk) 15,736 (Hawk GT)
BODY: All-steel, unitary construction two-door coupe
ENGINE: 4737cc V8 with overhead valves and single downdraft carburettor. Supercharger optional.
POWER & TORQUE: 167kW @ 4500rpm, 418Nm @ 2800rpm (Hawk GT)
PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h – 11 seconds, 0-400 metres 18.8 seconds (Hawk GT)
TRANSMISSION: Three-speed manual, three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, wishbones, telescopic shock absorbers (f), live axle with semi-elliptic springs & telescopic shock absorbers
BRAKES: Drum (f) drum (r) power assisted
TYRES: 7.35x15 cross-ply


From Unique Cars #473, Dec 2022/Jan 2023


Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here


Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.