End of The Line: 1958 Packard Hawk

On January 7, 1956, at the Chicago Auto Show, Packard unveiled a concept car called the Predictor. It was designed to showcase numerous innovations that Packard saw as part of its future in American motoring. Sadly, the only thing that the Predictor didn’t…er…predict, was that within 3-years, the Packard brand would be no more. In a bid to stave off the final collapse, Packard attempted to restyle existing cars within the Studebaker/Packard brand. One of these was the Packard Hawk. Unfortunately, the Hawk, like anything else bearing the Packard name, failed to sell in sufficient numbers to save the company from collapse, and by the start of 1959, Packard was consigned to history. This 1958 Packard Hawk, 1-of-588 that the company managed to sell during that final year of production, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. It is listed for sale here on eBay, and while bidding has now reached $12,000, the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Packard was essentially a Studebaker Golden Hawk that had undergone a bit of a restyle. Just how successful these changes were, depends on who you talk to. The low and wide grille replaced the Golden Hawk’s more upright version, while some restyling of the fins and a faux spare wheel on the deck lid was designed to give the car a distinctive look that set it apart from the donor car. The frontal restyle was the area of the car that came in for the most criticism, with many motoring journalists comparing the grille rather unfavorably to a vacuum cleaner. This Hawk looks to be in good condition, and that is in a large part due to the fact that it received a repaint in its original Parchment White and Canyon Copper Poly. One interesting piece of styling on the Hawk is the Metallic Gold insert along the sides of the car. Studebaker/Packard chose to do things slightly differently, and rather than using paint to provide the contrast, they utilized a polyester (PET) film to achieve this. Once again this is a styling queue that has divided people, but it did demonstrate that Packard was willing to try to be different, right to the bitter end. Apart from the fresh paint, the rest of the Hawk’s exterior presentation is very good, and it is hard to find anything to be really critical about.

Unfortunately, the news inside the Hawk isn’t quite as good. I will say that the leather seat upholstery looks very dirty, and it would be interesting to see if it would respond to a clean and condition. The dash and pad look to be really good, and are unmodified. From there, things begin to go downhill. The wheel has a number of cracks, the armrests on both doors are tatty, and the carpet is peeling away from the bottoms of both door trims. Speaking of carpet, the carpet on the floors is looking badly faded, and it will need to be replaced. The window regulator handle is also missing off the driver’s door, which is something that I find surprising on a car that the owner contends would make a good daily driver. Interestingly for a luxury car, the original owner appears to have ordered this Hawk as a “bare-bones” example, and it doesn’t benefit from such options as power windows or power seats.

Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t provide us with any photos of the engine, but he does supply a few details in the listing. Under the hood, you will find the fantastic supercharged 289ci V8 engine, which produces 275hp. The power is sent to the rear wheels via the 3-speed Flightomatic transmission, which was the transmission of choice for the vast majority of Hawk buyers. Interestingly, Packard managed to sell a total of 588 Hawks in 1958, and only 28 buyers chose to equip their cars with the optional manual transmission. The owner of this Hawk says that the car runs and drives really well and that it would make a great everyday cruiser.

When carmakers collapse, more often than not they don’t go out with a bang, but with a whimper. Such was the case with Packard. By the time the Hawk appeared, the buying public was giving the brand a wide berth, because many people feared the whole idea of finding themselves with the equivalent of an automotive orphan. Not helping the plight of either the Hawk or the Packard brand, the company had brought the Studebaker Golden Hawk to market, and with similar styling and an identical engine, the Golden Hawk potentially “stole” 878 sales from Packard. Today it is interesting to compare the relative values of the two models. The Golden Hawk sold for about 25% less than the Packard when new, but when you look at cars in reasonable to average condition today, the Golden Hawk consistently sells for more than the Packard. However, as vehicle condition improves, the Packard increases in value markedly against the Studebaker. Where an immaculate Golden Hawk might be able to fetch up to $60,000, an immaculate Packard Hawk can push closer to $80,000. This Hawk isn’t immaculate, but it appears to be a clean and tidy daily driver that is ready to be enjoyed.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Had the opportunity as a HS sophomore (with my freshly-inked NV DL)to buy a black one left sitting in a lean-to on a ranchette near the little town of Rancho Cordova. Supercharged, all the bells and whistles, 1st time driving an auto trans, it ran GREAT once we jumped the battery; rolled out on the freeway and boy howdy did it run! At least in the mind of a 16yr old accustomed to driving a ‘61 Midget and a ‘64 2door Chevelle wagon with a column-shift 3 speed/ newly installed 283..
    But as it worked out, my dad hesitated as 1) “it’s old and parts [were] hard to find” 2) “it’s a big car and will use a lot of gas” [he believed I was looking at an older sedan] 3) when my dad was on the phone with the seller and was asked how it ran he replied “wal, we just took ‘er out fer a spin and he had it at aboot 123 on the haway..” that ended my chances of owning a Packard..5 previous moving violations in two years on motorcycles notwithstanding…
    Next time I saw one was many many years later at Harrahs Museum in Sparks where a very mechanically talented friend had gotten a job restoring cars.

    But when I close my eyes, I can still see that beauty looking out from that lean-to, black and menacing, the morning mist rolling off the paint..

    23
  2. Miguel Member

    There is one of these for sale in Mexico but he wants a lot of money for it and I don’t think there is a market for it. I have seen the Studebaker versions going for very little money.

    5
    • Chuckster

      Side view is ok, but that front end is just plain butt ugly and the rear is not far behind. Sad to see Packard had sunk to this

      8
      • Steve R

        It resembles a grouper. Wide narrow grill opening/mouth, headlight/eyes positioned high on the outside of the fender/head and a hood/forehead that arches in between the two.

        Steve R

        14
      • ken tilly

        A lesson in how to ruin the great Studebaker Hawk lagacy in one quick design move. I had a 57 Silver Hawk, which I considered beautiful, and only sold it because it ran a big end bearing which I couldn’t afford to have repaired at the time. As for the Packard Hawk. Ugh! No thanks, not ever.

        1
    • Miguel Member

      Here is the one here in Mexico.

      Since it didn’t have the name on the front of the car I had to do some research to find out what it was.

      13
    • Jeff DeWitt

      Very little money? Golden Hawks, which is what the Studebaker version is, are among the most desirable Hawks. Hagarty says an average Golden Hawk sells for over $30,000. For most of us that’s a lot more than “very little money”.

      1
      • Miguel Member

        Look at cars actually for sale on Ebay or Craigslist. If you use Autotempest.com you can see what is out there.

        I would think since this is an extremely rare car the dollar amount would be much higher, but it is just not.

        $30,000 for a car like this is little money when people are asking $10,000 for a common 1983 Suburban.

        1
  3. Dan

    Did this car inspire Virgil Exner to create the “toilet seat” that was slapped on Mopars in the early 1960s? It’s different, which can be a good selling point, but most find it different in a bad way. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s bid up to when the hammer falls.

    1
  4. bobhess Member

    Caught a catfish that looked like that once. After owning a ’53 it really hurt seeing what Studebaker and Packard did to the original design.

    11
    • Vince H

      At least it had the 53 trunk lid and fenders.

      2
  5. FordGuy1972

    Can’t afford it but would love to have it; talk about a rare and unusual classic! The condition seems to be pretty good so it can be driven and enjoyed right away which is always a plus. Freshen up here and there when time and funds are available. I’ve never owned or driven a supercharged car, something I’d like to experience. While considered an ugly Studebaker, it’s still a desirable car that really stands out in a crowd.

    With 4 days to go and at $17,600 already, I would think this rare gem will bring good money at auction’s end.

    4
  6. Kurt

    Note the similarities between this car and the Avanti.

    3
    • John S

      Uh… no… I don’t.

      9
    • Marshall

      I would rather have the 1958 “Packardbaker” Hawk than an Avanti! The rear end and side views are not bad at all in my opinion. And I can get used to that fish mouth front end, Dagmars, ”mini-headlight” turn signal pods piggybacking on top of the headlights, and all. But that abrupt squared off front end on the Avanti I never could get used to.

      2
  7. Vince H

    There were 898 58 Golden Hawks built. The 878 is US production. 20 were built in Canada.

    4
  8. lbpa18

    Looks like something Marge Simpson would drive.

    2
  9. scottymac

    Are we sure we’re not looking at a Studebaker someone has passed off as a Packard? According to this Hemming’s article, there should be vinyl armrests on the OUTSIDE of the doors below the windows, and the headlight bezels should be painted, not chrome.

    https://www.hemmings.com/blog/article/polarizing-packard-1958-packard-hawk/

    • Vince H

      VIN is right for a Packard, You are right about the headlight rims and door strips.

  10. Paul L Windish

    To me, the best looking Packard Hawks are black with gold roof and the tan interior.Yes the front end of these cars still evoke the “Catfish” moniker as when they were introduced. Collectors though can have a good laugh over what it would cost to acquire one today.

    1
  11. John S

    This is a sad example of Packard’s last desperate gasp, followed shortly thereafter by Studebaker.
    Packard was, at one time, one of the finest automobiles built and was referred to as “America’s Rolls Royce”.
    The Packard Hawk is a pathetic end to such an impressive legacy.
    Studebaker had a great run as well, building affordable cars for the general public. They were stylish for the times, efficient and very dependable
    In 1953 the original Lowey body design was beautiful and ahead of it’s time when revealed by Studebaker, but there were already signs of trouble to come. The chassis was the same as Studebaker built for around a decade previously, hidden by a stylish body… for the next three years.
    In following years, to continue looking cutting edge, that body was modified by adding bolt on tail fins, a Mecedes-ish grille and a raised trunk. Then the “Hawk” was born. They were successful pulling that off and some would say it was a good looking car. Financial woes forced milking that same body, with various weak changes, to the end. When Packard was added to Studebaker, a limited budget forced things like the Packard Hawk to occur. In the end it didn’t work.
    I personally like the ’59 Silver Hawk and owned one for several years. It was black with a maroon interior. Dual 4 barrels on a V-8, 4-speed trans. It was quick, fast and a lot of fun to drive.
    This particular car isn’t for everyone… but, as they say, there’s a butt for every saddle, and I hope someone out there will love and preserve this one.
    I can’t help but flinch when ever I see a Packard Hawk… but it is, after all, part of history… like it or not.

    4
  12. Johnmloghry Member

    Anyone remember the Packardbaker Hawk convertible that sold for $103k a few months ago that needed a full restoration? I wonder what upgrades have been made to it so far.
    God bless America

  13. stillrunners

    Nice run ? Hell the Studebaker Company celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 1953.

    Just thinking of those that didn’t even make it to 2003.

  14. 86_Vette_Convertible

    This is one of those cars that only a mother could love. I like the Studebaker Hawks a lot, but this one got uglied up IMO. I honestly don’t know if this would work or not but get a Studebaker front end and swap it out for the one on this car.

    1
    • John S

      I’m pretty sure the front fenders are the same on this car as the Hawks… so you’d have to fill in some mounting holes and swap out the hood. Then you could look at the car and not feel so sad. It would be a good idea to swap out the fenders though, ’cause I’m sure they are very scarce.

  15. Ian

    ..first thought was the front looks rather Citroen DS..also launched in 1956

    2

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