1-of-588: 1958 Packard Hawk

In 1958, Packard as a manufacturer was in its death throes, and production ended before that year was completed. This marked the demise of a once great marque that had been producing cars since 1899. Rubbing salt into the wound, the last cars that were to bear the Packard name were little more than badge-engineered Studebakers, which damaged the brand’s exclusive perceptions, and sealed the company’s fate. One of these badge engineered cars was the Packard Hawk. Produced exclusively in 1958, only 588 cars eventually rolled off the production line. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted this Hawk for us, so thank you for that Ikey. The owner of this car has commenced the restoration process, but it will be up to the next owner to complete the job. Located in Grand Prairie, Texas, the Hawk is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set the price for the car at $8,500.

I’m sure that no-one will be surprised to learn that the Hawk was based on the Studebaker Golden Hawk 400. It featured a redesigned fiberglass nose and a restyled deck lid, but nothing could disguise what the car really was. Looking over the car, things actually look quite promising. There is no sign of any real rust, although it would pay to check the floors, as these could be a prone area. The owner refers to the color as being custom, but I’ve had a good look at the paint charts of the period, and believe that this car is finished in a color called Canyon Copper Poly. One other distinctive feature of the car was the use of reflective Mylar to decorate the inserts of the fins. The Mylar on this car looks like it has been removed at some point, as those inserts now appear to be painted. The rarity of the car can cause other issues, with trim and badges being quite difficult to source. That is something to consider with this car, as some of the letters off the nose of the car are missing, along with the badges on the trunk lid, and the ones that belong in the fin inserts.

The interior of the Hawk is distinctive and was trimmed in keeping with Packard’s luxurious heritage. Leather was in plentiful supply. and that looks to be in good condition in this car. In fact, optional equipment in a Hawk was pretty limited. It was possible to order a manual transmission, power windows, and power seats were about all that was available when new. The engine for the Hawk was lifted directly from the Golden Hawk, meaning that you found yourself with a 289ci V8 engine, sporting a McCulloch supercharger. This gave the car 275hp to play with, and it fed that through a 3-speed automatic transmission to what was referred to as a Twin-Traction rear end. This was effectively a limited slip differential and allowed the car to get its power to the road more effectively. The engine on this car has spent some time at a machine shop, and the entire bottom end has been rebuilt, using all fresh parts such as pistons, rod, the crank, etc. The supercharger, along with the cylinder heads, and some of the accessories, have also been rebuilt. All that seems to be left is final reassembly, and this Hawk should be up and running again.

The Packard Hawk was a sales disaster, because to the buying public, it was obvious that this was merely a Studebaker with some styling changes. The failure of this model to sell in numbers was one of many factors that hastened the demise of the country. While the Hawk failed to gain acceptance when new, they are now seen as something of a classic. In spite of their limited numbers, the Hawk is continuing to lag behind its contemporaries from Ford and GM in the value stakes, but as one of the last cars to wear the Packard name, it is still a special car.

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Comments

  1. Mountainwoodie

    In the history of corporate America there have obviously been many failures. Companies that we have grown up with have disappeared in our own lifetime. What I never understood about Packard is why they miscalculated so badly. I mean De Soto disappeared as a result of an internal corporate decision to eliminate a name plate but I wonder if anyone ( Howard A) has an opinion on what caused Packard to seek Studebaker as a “savior”. I can’t remember reading about it anywhere……of course I might have forgotten :)

    On a more pertinent point I never liked the glass nose on the StudePackards I’d rather have a Golden Hawk.

    7
    • Bob C.

      Mountainwoodie, Nash president George Mason persuaded Packard president James Nance to purchase Studebaker as Mason too merged with Hudson. He had a dream of becoming a Big Four, but that never happened due to his untimely death in 1954. Nance too, didn’t realize Studebaker was in dire straits until after the purchase.

      5
      • Lew

        A long-gone Studebaker production engineer once told me that the Studebaker and Packard merger was like two drunks trying to help each other cross the street.
        Nothing good was to come of it for either company.

        7
      • Ed P

        George Mason began trying to merge the independents in the late 1940’s when they were all healthy. If they had merged as strong car makers may have made a big difference in the final outcome.

        1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Studebaker convinced Packard that upon a merger it would only take about 120,000 car sales to break even; Studebaker had sold 300,000 vehicles in1950 and again in 1951 so Packard literally bought into it.
      After the Packard-Studebaker “merger” the finance guys at Packard realized they’d been duped, that it would take 300,000 per year just to break even. The Studebaker had an old plant so the production line was super slow; along with that the unions in the Studebaker plant were fighting with management (strikes, slowdowns, walkouts and the like). According to the records Studebaker never hit the 300K mark again after 1951 which would’ve drained money from Packard every year thereafter sucking it dry. I’d heard that Dwight Eisenhower asked a former GE guy to take the reins, who then had the engineers design the Packard Hawk using the Golden Hawk for a mule and doing Packard style upgrades (leather interior, limited slip differential, etc.) in an effort to save Packard.
      They later tried a get-together with Daimler Benz and had a play with Facel-Vega but MB put the kibosh on that deal..

      6
      • Ed P

        Studebaker Packard did become the distributor of Mercedes cars in the late ‘50s.

        4
      • Bill McCoskey

        Nevadahalfrack,

        You are very correct on everything you wrote above. The final plan before 1958 was to introduce a new luxurious 4-door hardtop car with center opening doors [like the 1961-69 Lincolns]. The plan was to have Facel Metalon in Paris, France [the makers of the Facel Vega cars], and badge it as a Packard. And yes, you are correct, Mercedes-Benz didn’t like it at all, and with the new S/P & M/B agreement, the entire idea was never to happen. So Facel created the car anyway, and called it the Excellence [I had a 1961 Facel Vega Excellence, #101.]

        6
  2. Andy

    To start with, I love Studebakers. As a 16 year old I had a chance to buy a 1953 Starlight Coupe. My parents said no and that ended that dream.

    That being said, this Packerbader might be the ugliest car ever produced. It looks like it was inspired by an Australian platapus. What a sad end for the great Packard marque.

    17
    • ken tilly

      Everybody and his uncle said that the Edsel was ugly but this monstrosity really takes the cake. In South Africa it would be likened to a Barbel fish, all it needs are the whiskers. So fugly I wouldn’t want it as a gift, but to each his own I suppose.

      7
  3. Coventrycat

    A fishhook would look great in that grille.

    14
    • Bill

      Could very easily be purchased as a advertising tool, fish hook and all. Restaurant called fishlips could lease it as a local taxi, good fishhook idea !

      1
  4. Gord

    is there a way to save the ad within the writeup as many a time the ad line if defunct by the time the writeup is posted… still fun though!

    1
  5. OIL SLICK

    What a beautiful Packard! I love that front end and the styling of the car. It’s a different take on the Studes and very rare. That color also is very nice and unique. Love that car.

    7
  6. hillman

    The front end looks like the sp 250 Daimler. which one was first?

    3
  7. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    The Packard-1958

    3
  8. Hotroddaddy

    I love the Studebaker Golden Hawk that this is based on, but man that nose job is UGLY! However Hagerty says a Packard Hawk in Concourse condition is worth $91,800. So it might be worth the $8,500 that the owner is asking, IF someone is willing to put in a lot of elbow grease and can find a source for the missing parts. Wish I had the money, time and ability to do it.

    7
  9. North Star

    Why would a car designer think a catfish looking car would appeal to an American buyer? Was he/she thinking there was an untapped market of car buyers who love this fish?

    11
  10. Joe

    One of my favorite cars, they are so ugly they are beautiful. The prices have gone thru the roof, this was a steal for the money. Glad it was gone when I clicked on the craigslist, I would have had to make room in a full garage!

    4
  11. canadainmarkseh Member

    I gotta say this is a beautiful car from three angles, the front not so much. If this were mine I’d customize that fiber glass nose pc with subtle changes just enough to make it more pleasing to the eye. The rest of the car I’d do a simpathetic restoration with a colour change ( white over turquoise) comes to mind. It’s true that Packard had a sad end they should have taken Studabaker to court to get out of the deal as sone as they found out that they were conned. Some would restomod this but I wouldn’t other than tweeting the nose PC. It’s to bad that the brand didn’t get sold to a company with the means to restyle and revitalize the company. I’ve always considered studabaker to be the lesser brand and was never up to the standards of Packard.

    2
  12. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    IMHO they’re a beautiful car that doesn’t photograph well.
    I was 16 years old the first time I saw one in person; the second (and last) time I saw one was in Reno (actually Sparks) at Harrahs Automobile Museum quite some time before Bill died.
    His heirs sold it with his business to Holiday Inns, who broke up the collection to sell it, leaving a handful for the well-kept display downtown Reno with some at the Imperial Palace 560 miles away in Las Vegas..

    2
  13. Johnmloghry Member

    As I was saying before something caused my short story to disappear. It was only a few months back that a 58 Packardbaker convertible in need of restoration sold on a auction bidding page for $103,000.00
    God bless America

    2
  14. Del

    A rare Hawk.

    Obviously grabbed as soon as it got widely advertised.

    1
  15. Fossil

    Hey Andy………leave our Platypus outa the conversation. Like most things Australian. it’s unique.

  16. John

    Stude’s were a rust box, engineers wanted to get rid of/change the side vents as they just held dirt and salt, management didn’t. No money and poor management
    and of course, the unions. They had 2 men for any/most jobs, one would work and the other hang out of the factory windows. Theft was a big problem, if U had one and needed a part, someone would get it for U. Yup, a lot of things contributed to their downfall.

    2
  17. Mark Evans

    Lew Your reference to the Studebaker/Packard merger about two drunks helping each other down the road was more recently referenced with the fiat/Chrysler merger. Chrysler has been spinning its wheels with decade old styling on its Challenger,300 & most everything else except its recently updated truck line-up. How soon before they are looking for another bailout?This car should be restored. This was a company worth saving.

  18. manwaffles

    Strangely, I always thought these cars were beautiful in pictures, but the picture of the front of this car in this ad must be from the least flattering angle possible. I think that with some restoration, the car could be beautiful again, but wow that angle is just the worst.

    2
  19. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one, Adam, and great details in your excellent write-up. I love the ’58 Packards, though most I’ve seen have dual headlights, which gives a more balanced look in my opinion. Does anyone know if only the “Hawk” had the singles? This is the look I love… https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2012/10/19/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1958-packard/

    1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Todd,
      Only the Hawks had the single headlights. From what I had heard about 40 years ago, because the front fenders and hood are different from the other cars, and the expected low production numbers for the Packard Hawk, combined with the costs to modify the hawk fenders and the Packard Hawk hood, were deemed to expensive, hence the single lights.

      1

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