[first posted 6/1/2011. Updated 3/13/2022]
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes the result is nothing short of spectacular. The Studebaker Gran Turismo manages to be quite stunning, despite having been cobbled together on a shoestring in six months. But then a substantial part its appeal is precisely because it is very much compromised and imperfect. It’s certainly a car that The Big Three would never have built–think Riviera–it’s more like something from Bristol. Therein lie the morbid joys of Studebaker’s final decades–cars that only a dying maker could–and would–have built.
The GT Hawk did nothing to change the inevitable outcome of the Studebaker Death Watch, but then it probably would never have been created under other circumstances. There’s nothing like staring death in the face to focus the last remaining creative forces and take exceptional risks. Along with the Avanti, the GT Hawk is Studebaker’s gran farewell gesture. Gone indeed, but hardly forgotten.
1961 was a very desperate time for Studebaker, having never really recovered from the 1953 fiasco. The brief profitable spurt from the Lark was quickly petering out. The daring 1953 “Loewy” Starlight coupe (above) was originally intended to be a show car only. But Loewy convinced Studebaker to put it in production, despite requiring a totally different body than the sedans, which demanded a massive investment that the independent car maker could ill afford. Undoubtedly the most remarkable piece of styling to come from America in the fifties, it was a deeply influential and seminal piece. And the biggest nail in their coffin.
Not surprisingly, the ’53 Coupe overwhelmed Studebaker with assembly challenges and delays, and finally hit the market just as Ford and GM launched a massive market-share war by overproducing and heavily discounting. Rather than buying share from each other, it had the effect of severely damaging the remaining independents. The poor build quality of the ’53 Studebakers only added to its woes.
The Loewy coupe morphed into a low-volume sporty coupe, the Hawk, having sprouted an upright grill and the ubiquitous fins.
As one can see in the Hawk above and this shot of the GT Hawk, the 1953’s distinctive air intakes are still there, but now dominated by that bright new nose. Of course, that was hardly the only thing. The 1953’s whole body shell is still very much in accounted for in the GT, which by the standards of Detroit at the time was ancient by then. All the more to enhance the appreciation of the ’53’s original lines, and the remarkable adaptation of it here ten years on.
The Hawk was a formidable performance car in the fifties, especially in 1956 with the 275 hp Packard 352 V8, and the later supercharged 275 hp Studebaker 289 V8. It foreshadowed the compact sporty muscle and pony cars of the sixties, but sold only in small numbers.
By 1961, the compact Lark’s brief day in the sun was over, having been eclipsed by the assault of the Big Three’s compacts. And the Hawk was painfully obsolescent compared to the T-Bird. Noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens was hired in 1961 to do a six-month crash redesign of the Hawk and Lark models, with a minimal budget. By grafting a Pininfarina Florida/Thunderbird-like square roof unto the old hardtop Loewy coupe, a cleaned up rear end, and a dramatic wrap-around instrument panel, Stevens injected a remarkable amount of new life into the aging coupe.
Now here’s the remarkable thing about this particular car: it was bought by its owner Luke when he was in high school. And it was his daily driver for six years. He brought it back to life after sitting in a barn for ten years, and it now has over 213k miles clocked on its original engine, the 225 hp four-barrel 289. It now awaits his return from a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in Michigan before its ongoing improvements resume. But it’s still very much a runner.
Luke gave me an exciting ride in this still sprightly GT. Weighing some 3200 lbs, the old 289 backed by a four speed stick had no problem living up to its name. With its narrow but long body, it reminds me somehow of a Midwestern take on the theme that Bristol has been playing out for decades in England, still to this day.
Call me crazy, but from the rear especially, the GT reminds me also of the Citroen DS. Visually, that is, since the Studebaker’s ride is about as far away from the floating “goddess” as possible.
The long, willowy frame of the Loewy coupes was a problem from day one, even though it was reinforced early on. These cars, especially the hardtops, are structurally challenged. The doors need a little help finding their way home, and speed bumps are not its friend. But once inside, a unique perspective opens up. The GT not only doesn’t look like a typical Big Three car of the times, it feels even much less so one sitting in it. It’s remarkably narrow, the cowl is high and close, and your feet disappear in front of you in shallow, long tunnels. It feels extremely European.
The dash is a brilliantly clean, functional affair with those classic round gauges scattered on its three planes. GM did a fine job copying it for its 1970 Camaro, among others.
Everything about the GT has a very low-production, almost hand-made feel to it. Exposed fasteners are on display, inside and out. Or does hand-made evoke the wrong image; cobbled-up perhaps?
The GT is not exactly Bristol when it comes to fit and finish. But then, Bristol has been doing the same basic car for decades. The sheer number of stainless steel trim pieces on the exterior alone helps explains why Studebaker couldn’t really make any money on this car.
The 1962 Gran Turismo came with a $3,095 sticker($29k adjusted to 2021 dollars). That was low enough to attract some 8k buyers, which along with the restyled Lark, gave Studebaker its last little sales uptick before the final death spiral. There was no way to keep its giant South Bend factory running with sub-100k annual production output.
The GT died along with the Avanti when the plant was shut down in 1964, and Lark production shifted to a smaller Canadian plant for the last few pathetic years. Barely 15k GTs were made in total, but it was a very lovely swansong indeed that Studebaker sang for us.
(thanks Luke, for the invite and ride)
1954 Studebaker Starliner Coupe – Star Light, Star Bright PN
1960 Studebaker Hawk – Rock Bottom? JPC
1959 Lark – Studebaker’s Last Hurrah PN
Interesting detail: the “TT” emblem on the fuel filler door stands for “Twin Traction,” which was Studebaker-Packard’s limited-slip differential. S-P was one of the first Detroit automakers to offer a limited-slip on production cars, around 1957.
The Thunderbird wasn’t the only issue for this car (competition-wise) But a few more dollars found you in a Pontiac Grand Prix, or if you were really feeling ostentatious, an Olds Starfire. By 1963, add all those and the Riviera. Or if you go by price point, the 1962 Buick Skylarks and a moderately well optioned Impala SS come into play. Albeit a milestone, graceful shape, The Studebaker still used Kingpins and a Solid Lifter V8.
What Studebaker needed even more than styling was a new Chassis, and a massive re-engineering of their engines. I always preferred the 1962-63 Lark Updates (Style-wise) since they really adopted some ephemeral Mercedes Benz touches, but how fun could a 1953 Car in 1963 clothes been to drive? Also those little niggling issues with the OHV Skybolt 6 and I forget which years had the vinyl buckets that split almost instantaneously after they got queefed on once….
I guess I don’t know if I would have had sympathy for Studebaker or not. The cars they produced were beautiful, but so fatally flawed (and in ways they really didn’t need to be). Then again a 1957 Chrysler is beautiful (In my eyes) but also so fatally flawed (in most cases, or in some cases worse than any Studebaker could hope to be). I guess the test would be, given a collectors budget would I pick a GT Hawk over say, the forementioned ’62 Starfire? The Hawk is probably more economical, more sprightly (especially with the 4 speed) and arguably better looking.
But would it drive in a sense that I’d be familiar with like the Olds would? Or would it feel like a late 40s truck with improved Drum Brakes? And on that level I’d take the Starfire as something I’d actually drive and enjoy. And I think even those smitten with the styling in the early 1960s thought the same thing, and voted with their pocketbooks with a number of differently sized Personal Coupes similar in price and/or theme.
Beautiful looking cars have not seen a live one for a while hard to believe a great jooking car like this nail Studes coffin shut it should have given them a reprieve.
I love these cars. It is simply amazing what Brooks Stevens was able to do with so little money. Unfortunately, sales of the new 62 GT Hawk were barely better than of the old retreaded 61 Hawk that it replaced.
Studebakers of the early 60s always struck me as an odd mixture of the modern and the archaic. This cars shape, expecially the roofline, was so clean and modern, yet the cowl vents from the early 50s were still there on full display. Also, the door handles and even the sheet metal guage had this early 50s-style heft that was lacking in other cars of the early 60s.
So Paul, I see the dual exhausts on this car. On your ride, did you get an earful of that unique sound of the old Studebaker V8? As a kid, one of my best friends came from a 2 Studebaker family – a 60 Lark V8 and a 64 R2 Avanti. Both cars had dual exhausts with glasspacks, and I still have that unusual exhaust note in the back of my brain somewhere.
There were a lot of Studebakers in that extended family (I can think of at least 6 of them that I got to ride in and be around) but, unfortunately, not a GT Hawk. I am envious of your good fortune to score a ride in this cool old car.
Yes; let’s just say that there’s not a lot of sound insulation on this beast (currently a bare metal floor). An earful indeed! Lovely.
This for sure would have been a better car to revive than the Avanti. However after seeing how the Avanti was hacked up in its later years I cant see the end result being much better for the Hawk.
Fascinating car–interesting to see the name of the Studebaker club is the “Studebaker Drivers’ Club”.
Of course, no Studebaker week would be complete without a mention of this genuine Studebaker woody, er, woods:
(Link to story here.)
When my Dad was trading in his ’55 Champion, I remember us looking at the Lark, getting the Ford convertible, and wishing we could step up to the T-Bird. Not the Hawk, which we surely saw next to the Lark, the T-Bird. So it went.
Your Bristol analogy is spot-on. I suppose that’s what the Avanti II folks were doing for awhile, but somehow it doesn’t work that way in the USA.
When on vacation in Manitou Springs, CO with my family in 1989, the motel owner had an old Hawk coupe out back as shown in the red and white example seen above. It really amused me to see how the tail fins were extra pieces pop-riveted on and the seams covered by trim! Now That’s quality!
My only experience with Studebakers has been incidental events, never having owned or driven one. My great-Uncle owned a 62 Lark VIII, but I was seven years old when he passed away, and the car was given to a distant relative.
What sticks out in my mind the most is the incalculable damage the price wars did to the domestic auto industry, 30, 40 and 50 years down the road. Had GM & Ford not chosen to start the price wars, the domestic industry landscape might look a lot different than it does today. I really can’t predict the effects of first, the European imports and then, the Japanese imports if Studebaker, Packard and others had survived this long. But I believe we wouldn’t see the domination of foreign makes as we have in the last 30 or so years, as the intramural domestic competition would have forced all players in the market to “up their game”. How cool would it be to own a 2011 Studebaker Hawk that would be a competitor to the RWD Camaros and Challengers of today? Or a 2011 Studebaker Avanti, which could rival the Corvette?
Oh well, more MMing, I guess.
I’ve heard the hypothesis before that if Packard had pitched in with Hudson and Nash instead of Studebaker, the Packard brand might have survived or at least had a more dignified end than it did–but then again, there are the “Hash” last Hudsons to argue against that theory. An American Motors with Rambler as the “basic” brand and Packard as the “upscale” brand might have made a longer go at being a full-line carmaker, especially with Jeep coming in later as the truck division in the same mode as GMC. (Or it might have gone down the tubes anyway.)
You may as well ask big fish to stop eating little fish. What’s going on now is the continuous consolidation of the auto industry, beginning at the turn of the 20th century and never stopping, only pausing, ever since. First it was on a regional, then national, now global level. IIRC, at one point there were 300 auto manufacturers in the U.S. alone. Now we’re down to two wholly owned U.S. companies.
If it hadn’t been the GM-Ford price war that did in the independents, it would have been the ’58 recession…or the ’73-’74 fuel crisis AND recession…etc.
History’s about to repeat itself in China. Watch closely. The Chinese government’s interventions may change the individual outcomes, but not the final result of the process–a few winners and a lot of losers.
@Karl: Your thoughts are the reason why I ended my post with: more M(ental) M(asturbation)…
Did you hear about the exhibition the Studebaker Museum did recently, where they invited retired pro designers to create their ideas of what modern Studebakers would look like?
The rear shot of this car has a 1960’s Lincoln Continental flavor to it.
When the Gran Turismo Hawk was designed, the two most influential domestic luxury cars were the four-seat Thunderbird (for the roofline and bucket-seat layout) and the suicide-door Lincolns, so that makes sense. Note that the Studebaker imitates the Lincoln’s chrome trim along the tops of the fenders, doors and quarter panels, too.
Quite beautiful. I believe there is a Studebaker Starlight Coupe in the NY Museum of Modern Art–or something like that. In the early sixties Studebaker was heavily influenced by Daimler-Benz. I remember reading something about Richard Nixon having something to do about blocking a potential merger between Daimler-Benz and Studebaker. I owned a hospital green ’51 Champion four-door for several years. It was quite an attention getter–more so than your typical ’50’s Bel Air or Cadillac. Your point about dying car companies taking exceptional styling risks was quite insightful.
I think the Pacer, Gremlin, and Matador coupe are examples of that insight.
I believe Nixon’s law firm botched a potential joint venture between Nissan and Studebaker’s Canadian operations. Nissan wanted to have its vehicles assembled in Canada.
Mercedes-Benz didn’t want to merge with Studebaker; if anything, the German firm spent several years trying to get out of the agreement that gave Studebaker rights to distribute Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the U.S.
Yet Mercedes also used its relationship with Studebaker-Packard to kill a 1960-ish plan to reintroduce Packard in the form of a slightly restyled Facel-Vega. Daimler-Benz was not interested in having its US distributor selling a European luxury car in competition with them.
This is a great article on a very interesting car.
From what I’ve read, Studebaker deliberately left some “flex” in the frame of the 1953 models. The idea was that the frame would “flex” with imperfections in the road, and thus absorb the shock before it reached the passenger compartment. Unfortunately, it made the car feel “junky” and also added to the interior noise, as testers commented that they could hear the frame flex as the car hit bumps.
It also lead to the delays with the coupes. When the engines were mounted on the frames, there was so much flex that the front sheetmetal couldn’t mate properly to the rest of the body! Studebaker scrambled to implement a patchwork fix, but the coupes arrived later than the sedans (which didn’t have the same problem). The coupes, however, were the ones that attracted virtually all of the initial interest (Time even featured a coupe on the cover in a story about Studebaker and the new cars), which left many buyers disappointed.
Interestingly, Studebaker did sell many coupes and hardtops for 1953. Coupes and hardtops accounted for a large percentage of Studebaker’s total sales. Their percentage of sales was far higher than the norm for either Studebaker or the industry as a whole. The problem was that the sedans were flops, so Studebaker recorded a very small sales gain for 1953, and sales sank for all models in 1954. I’ve read that if Studebaker’s 1953 sedans had sold at the same rate as the 1952 sedans, total 1953 production would have been about 30 percent higher.
Tom Bonsall has suggested that Studebaker should have produced the coupes and hardtops as special models, and then kept a heavily facelifted version of the 1947-52 body shell for the sedans. Ironically, by 1962, desperation had basically brought Studebaker to that point. The old Starliner hardtop had evolved into the Gran Turismo Hawk, a specialty model among the rest of the line, with the Larks carrying on as the bread-and-butter sedans.
The Gran Turismo is an interesting car, but, realistically, it never had a chance against the 1962 Thunderbird and Pontiac Grand Prix, and things only got tougher in 1963, when the Riviera debuted.
It’s sad to hear that the cheap ‘flex’ was actually engineered into the beautiful ’53 Starlight. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot. At least Chrysler didn’t intentionally engineer poor build quality into the ’57 Forward Look cars.
It’s even more frustrating when comparing what else was available from the other manufacturers in 1953. The Studebaker is in a whole different league and could have been a game changer if they had concentrated on what was underneath the skin rather than what was on it in the ensuing years. But, like the body flex, Studebaker management did their level best to uglify the 1953, and it was only with the GT Hawk (in a purely desperational move) they were able to get back some of the ’53’s style. It’s a shame they couldn’t have left the unadorned snout alone instead of the tacky, upright grill.
It’s quite appropriate for the ’53 Starlight to be in an art museum. It truly is a work of art (but just to be looked at and not driven) to the point that it’s one of the classic designs that would be the great basis for a modern ‘retro’ version.
There was a 53 in my home town never seen another one but where I used to winter in western Sydney there was a couple of coupes what year Ive no idea but I saw the pop rivets on the fins on one I got close to seemed like somebodys back yard repair at the time but now I realise it was a factory bodge
I’m late to this party but two thoughts. First, in light of the fact that the Hawk GT ended up outselling the Avanti, in retrospect Studebaker could have gotten a lot more bang for its buck by focusing its limited resources on updating the Hawk. If they had shortened the Hawk so it fit on the compact Lark’s wheelbase and reduced the price, Studebaker could have offered a pretty decent rendition of a pony car — more than two years before the Ford Mustang’s debut. Not that such a car would have “saved” Studebaker, but it might have pushed the future into the future a bit farther.
One small factual correction to the posting: The reason why the Loewy coupe’s tooling was so expensive was not because the wheelbase was longer than the sedan. The coupe shared the same 120.5 inch wheelbase as the Land Cruiser, which was stretched four inches from the base sedan.
What made the Loewy coupe so expensive was its significantly lower body. Although some components such as the chassis, bumpers and windshield were shared with the sedans, the cowl and all of the sheetmetal were different. As a point of comparison, a 1955 Buick Special had more internal body parts interchangeability with a Chevy than did the Studebaker coupe and sedan.
That’s why the Loewy coupe represented an enormous financial risk. It had to sell in consistently high volume to pencil out. Alas, it did not. And Studebaker never recovered.
Just for kicks, here is a black GT I found in Peabody, Mass. a couple months ago. Seemed well-cared-for and unrestored.
Hi my name is John Philippides and i am from CYPRUS . I have a 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk right hand drive and i’m looking to find the rear hood and the right hand Door.
Problem with rust and very hard to fix.
You might start with the Studebaker Drivers Club at http://www.studebakerdriversclub.com/
I think Studebaker and Packard made three major errors when they merged. ONE…they closed down the wrong factory, South bend should have been the one closing as it could NOT handle making full size cars that Packard had in the works. TWO: When the Hawk was due to come out for the first time they did not put a Packard name on it and the Packard Icon Grill and not sell it as any form of Studebaker. THREE: Studebaker failed to make any type of change in the body styling for way too long a period..From 55 to 63 there was really very little change in the cars. Having failed in these three cost the company dearly and they were doomed to fail…however had Packard merged with say Hudson instead…what would have happened there?
The 1962 and later GT Hawk is perhaps the least attractive (IMHO) Hawk I’ve ever seen. I’ve always preferred the Studebaker Hawks before then. 🙂
If that 4 speed was original to the car, this would have been quite nicely equipped for the performance fan – That little logo on the gas filler door signifies the “Twin Traction” limited slip differential, that was a Packard innovation in the 50s. A 4 bbl 289, 4 on the floor and Twin Traction makes for a 4-4-2 before Oldsmobile thought of it. 🙂
Count me as a fan, Studebakers are rare at shows and in magazines in the UK.
If the front of the ’53 was attached to the ’62 body, that would have made for an interesting car.
They really aren’t bad driving cars, front disc brakes were available as was a supercharger and even traction bars. I will take a Studebaker V8 over a Ford Y block any day. 4 speed was a T-10. Truly a talented group of engineers and stylists to do so much with so little.
I believe I read on Michael Lamm’s website that the frame for the ’53 Starlight was originally to be made of 12 gauge metal, it was changed to 11 gauge along with 8″ drum brakes instead of 9″ and the number of stamping dies was reduced which resulted in poor fit of the body panels. On top of that when it was first shown in 1952 it was a hit and lots of sales followed. Unfortunately Studebaker management had not scheduled any production until 1953 and a lot of customers got tired of waiting and cancelled their orders. It sounds like everything Studebaker could do wrong with the Starlight coupe they did. A friend of mine has a beautiful 1962 Hawk and I’m amazed with how low the height of the vehicle is. It must have been an truly spectacular sight back in 1952.
Seems like Studebaker was doing the ‘penny-wise, pound-foolish’ thing before GM. A real pity, since the ’53 coupe had the potential to be a game changer for them.
Thanks for reposting this GT Hawk piece. My ’63 GT Hawk has been one of the most interesting cars I’ve owned in the past 22 years. I first rode in one of these when I was 13 and located in Olney MD The neighbors up the street had a pair of them, a white ’62 and a blue ’63. The car was truly different even in 1967 when this happened—-a very cool throwback that was truly different in all aspects from the Ford/GM/Chrysler offerings of the day.
My ’63 is an original car other than the mid ’80s GM color repaint done by the previous owner. I’ve thought many times about doing a total restoration but I like the rolling time capsule it has become.
Like most Studebakers after the war this was an interesting, unique and in some areas, advanced vehicle. Studebaker was like an American Saab. Its quirky cars had its fans, but it could never sell in the numbers to be profitable. Poor management didn’t help, with awful union contracts and a primitive plant sapping profits. The big three crushed Studebaker like a bug with the ’54 price war, and after clawing back to semi-respectability with the Lark, crushed it again in 1960 with its compacts.
Despite low sales that ended some 50 years ago, I’ve seen these final Hawks here and there. This one was decidedly in captivity when I saw it at our recent new car auto show, but it is likely the prettiest I’ve ever seen.
The comment in the article that this car was a rush job done in six months makes you wonder why the heck Studebaker didn’t do it sooner. This car would have looked almost revolutionary in 1960 – when the previous generation was strangely stuck in its two door sedan only era. By 1962 it seemed more like a small scale Thunderbird.
I’m fairly certain that this car was never offered with power windows or seats – two pretty serious omissions for what was a very luxuriously styled vehicle.
In 1962 the Hawk started at $3,095. A bargain compared to a Thunderbird at a rather eye watering $4,321. But, you could score yourself a Galaxie 500 XL convertible at your Ford dealer for just over $3,100. As an 8/10ths scale American luxury car, the Hawk was playing in a moderately high dollar arena. Speaking of convertibles, why Studebaker messed with a Lark convertible, and never offered a Hawk convertible, is also an interesting product decision.
Lark was a hot product in a hot market segment tor a while and Hawk wasn’t. Hawk was always a product looking for a market. Lark still had hope to keep a good place in the market, so Stude expanded the Lark line with 4 door wagon, convertible, and Cruiser LWB premium sedan.
Stude planned to kill Hawk but the dealer council insisted that it was a good product for them. Hawk always underperformed the projections that were made to justify continued production (which most Stude products usually did, of course). Stude maybe broke even on the extra overhead cost of keeping Hawk in production before the whole auto operation was under water, but Hawk wasn’t netting more money to the company. Convertibles were less than 20 percent of Thunderbird production, so Stude certainly couldn’t expect to sell a thousand Hawk convertibles per year.
Why the GT Hawk didn’t happen sooner was it’s restyle and upgrade was at the insistence of the new company president Sherwood Egbert who had arrived in February 1961. He engaged Brooks Stevens to breath new life into both the Lark and Hawk, which he had to do on a shoe-string budget. Fine job but still a swan song.
Coincidental timing, there is a local series of tv movies (and now a mini-series) Jack Irish that has the title character (played by Guy Pearce) driving a 1960 Studebaker Hawk, and in the current series it was stolen and later blown up.
Also of coincidence I just watched one of these on Sunday’s Mecum auction broadcast.
While out sunday cruising a while back in the Hillman I happened on the Studebaker owners club in Art Deco Napier having their annual get together lots of early Studes around and several of the Loewy Coup’es, they still look great to me.
A few months ago, my favorite pick n pull yard picked up a half dozen studebakers in various states of disrepair. It was fascinating to see how the tacked on body panels could turn the old starlight body into a hawk. Weld on some fins, slap on some stainless strips to cover the welds and a large taillight casting to cover the end. Similar tricks were used to update the Lark into a Daytona. One of the cars had the small block Chevy engine with its original heritage disguised by Studebaker applied paint and stickers. The thing that really struck me was the details on the cars had almost a homemade look to them, with odd shaped trim usually held on by exposed screws. These cars were factory produced “20 footers”.
It’s long and narrow like a Bristol too.
IIRC the Excalibur was built on GT Hawk chassis, but apart from length and some reinforcements, all the Studebaker frames were the same I often thought Excalibur and Avanti should have merged. Excalibur eventually created a new frame for themselves, its a shame they couldn’t have shared that with Avanti – many of the troubles they encountered in the 1980’s could be traced to the need for a new chassis to replace the dwindling supply of leftover Lark frames. Maybe they could have made a GT Hawk if the stampings could have been duplicated in Fiberglass.
The Avanti started on the Lark Convertible frame, which was about 10 inches less wheelbase than the Hawk.
Sales of the ’62 Hawk were 9,335 units….published by Studebaker and other sources for years and years. Compared to 3,900-some for ’61, I don’t see how someone could say “sales were barely about ’61”. The Hawk was considerably less expensive than the GM and Ford cars it was aimed at. Base price was $3,095 for ’62 and ’63 and $2,958 for ’64, the best of the three years IMHO.
That’s ‘barely above’, not ‘barely about’.
The Encyclopedia of American Cars says that 8,388 Hawks were sold for MY 1962. It’s pretty commonly accepted as a reliable source. I don’t remember saying “sales were barely above ’61”. I can’t find that in my article. Can you?
See JP Cavanaugh’s post. I’ll trust Studebaker’s long-published own number from its quite-complete-to-this-date museum archives.
I found the 9,335 number in another source, as in the number built. Since the Encyclopedia only counts cars sold in the US, probably the difference was those sold in Canada and other export markets. Studebaker had quite a high percentage of exports.
’62 Hawks were also built at the Hamilton, ON plant, of course the plant that built all Studebakers for the North American market after 12/20/63.
Everyone talks about kingpins and Studebakers, but nobody ever says that about ’62 Corvettes. 🙂
To the reader who says South Bend should have been closed instead of the Packard plant–some hard facts bear mentioning.
Packard leased assembly space for their ’55 and ’56 cars in a cramped plant on Conner Avenue. Quality suffered partly as a result of that plant and some engineering things.
Packard and Clipper sales combined were only 28K for 1956.
Studebaker made the largest profit in its then 107-year history, in 1959 with the Lark. That enabled the Auto Division to stay in business nearly another decade.
As of ’63, Hawks could be had with a three-speed automatic and disc brakes; two things the Riviera and Corvette could not be had with at any cost. Amazing instrument panel when equipped with tach and clock. All gauges in front of the driver–none on the floor, tacked onto the top of the dash, strapped to the steering column, or placed out on the hood.
The best-looking iteration of the Hawk IMO. One of these is in my fantasy garage. The car deserves to be owned by a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.
And on top of all of these facts, Studebaker with all its worries at the time went to the trouble / expense of building these lovely pillarless hardtop Hawks in right hand drive (R.H.D.) form.
In Australia, these right hand drive Studebaker Hawks sold as expensive luxury coupes in small numbers but they were highly regarded.
Simply love 1962 – 1964 Studebaker Hawks! Thanks for writing about them.
Conversions to RHD were always done with the costs recouped by the much higher selling price.
I went to high school and college with a buddy whose family owned the Studebaker/ MB franchise in western Detroit.
I recall he always appropriated an unusual collection of cars to spend Friday night cruising the local Big Boy. Eddies, and the Daly drive-ins.
One evening he showed up with a black on black R3 GT. We spent the night leaving much tire remnant on Woodward Avenue.