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Hill-Holder Option! 1961 Studebaker Hawks

The Hawks were a series of “family sports cars” produced by Studebaker-Packard Corp. from 1956 to 64. They were all 2-door/4-seat coupes and hardtops. They were inspired by the 1955 Studebaker Speedster, a special edition based on the President platform. With as many as four iterations in a single model year, the series was down to a lone model in 1960-61, called simply “Hawk”. This 1961 edition presents well from 10 feet away, but some body issues should be dealt with. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, this Studebaker is available here on eBay where the bids have topped $5,200 but the seller has set a reserve north of there. Thanks for the cool tip, Larry D!

Depending on styling and pillared vs. pillarless body styles, the various nameplates assigned to the Hawk included Flight Hawk, Power Hawk, Sky Hawk, Golden Hawk, Silver Hawk, Packard Hawk, Hawk, and Gran Turismo Hawk. Production numbers were never large compared to some of its competitors, like the Ford Thunderbird. In 1961, just 3,661 copies of the Hawk left Studebaker’s plant in South Bend, Indiana. When the GT Hawk came along in 1962, the tailfins would be gone.

This ’61 Hawk has Studebaker’s 289 cubic inch V8 along with a 4-barrel carburetor and 4-speed manual transmission. So, it should have plenty of giddyap to go with it. The car has some interesting options, like a tachometer, Climatizer, and the Hill-Holder which was manufactured by Bendix. The latter dates to the 1930s and works by holding the brake in position while the driver tees up the first gear to move the car forward from a complete stop. This eliminated the fear of roll-back on steep hills.

While we’re told the mechanical condition of the car is sound, some issues can be found with the body and paint. There are cracks and bubbles in several places and rust at the rear of the trunk on the driver’s side. Corrosion is also present on the driver and passenger floors, although we’re told they feel sturdy to the punch. The interior is generally in good condition and the odometer reading is 20,770 which implies it has been turned over at least once. Given the rarity of these cars 60 years later, this one looks like a viable restoration that you wouldn’t have to rush into.


  1. Howard A Member

    I’m simply appalled, and since my comment on the Mustang ll didn’t take, and probably just as well, this only shows how low the hobby has sunk. Here you have, probably the coolest car from the late 50’s/early 60’s, in presentable, drivable condition,,,nothing, not even a comment from “the peanut gallery”.
    What gives? $5 GRAND?? This pretty much paints a picture, what do YOU think is reason? I mean, you’d have to be pretty far out of the classic car loop, to not recognize what a fantastic car like this. The manual transmission? The “hill holder”?( I can just hear some one thinking Subaru made that) The name? If it IS the name, then what a great car this was will be lost forever. Pretty obvious, this was someones baby, but ach, who cares?
    Pfft, $5 grand, no comments, Rod Stewart said it best, “Every picture tells a story, don’t it”?

    Like 24
    • Jangus

      Sorry, given the obvious body issues (not to mention the ones we all know are hidden) 5500 isn’t terribly out of line. It’ll take 15-20k to have the body put back into sound, solid status with a decent quality paint job. I’d certainly go no more than 7500, even with the 4 speed. Great looking car, but it has more than a few issues.

      Like 2
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Totally agree with you Howard. What do some of these people want for nothing, their money back? I had a ’57 with the hill holder and apart from the engine running a bearing while still under warranty, and the bonnet flying open at about 90 mph, it was a very desireable car. I loved it but being a 2 door the girl friends’ didn’t like getting in and out of the back seat after the drive in movie was over, so I swapped it for a ’56 Mercury Monterey 4 door, also a brilliant car.

  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This looks like a beautiful example of one of the prettiest “Euro look” cars that America designed and built. Studebaker did it right…and 61 (imo) was the pinnacle for the Hawk series

    Like 6
  3. Bob McK Member

    Truly magnificent car. So wish I had room for it.. Depending on the reserve.

    Like 1
  4. Gerald Edgar

    Our Dad was exclusively ‘Studies’ til 1960 when the handwriting was on the wall. (switched to Fords). I recall the early 50’s Champion we had featured the “hill holder” brake which was REAL useful living in Dubuque, Iowa (major “bluff” city!) If this was in a bit better shape I’d go for it as have to believe not many Hawks are left out there. In any case Studebaker apparently had a great Engineering Dept but too little capital to translate that into marketing. “Takes $$$ to make $$$!”.

    Like 2
    • 19sixty5 Member

      My dad had a 50 Commander convert with the hill holder, and my family is from Dubuque. Small world…Dubuque and a 50 Studebaker!

      • Gerald Edgar

        Small world indeed! Senior “66! I recall the Dbq Studebaker dealer was downtown toward south end.

  5. charlie Member

    Yes, the ‘hill holder’, my father’s ’38 Studebaker Commander and ’50 Studebaker Chanpion had it, “so the car in front of you, at a light, headed up hill, could roll back into you” my mother commented, and my 2014 Audi has it too, but not the same mechanical/electrical system. You acutally could put adults in the back seat, and for the day, the engine had guts, even without the supercharger. The pillarless, to me, is more attractive, but the B pillar gave the body more solidity, so back then, you took your pick.

    Like 2
  6. Peter Hollinshead

    The “Studebaker 289” graphic sticker on the valve cover is from late ’62 or later, so there may have been some subsequent work done on the engine.

    Like 1
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Very cool car. I never became a Studebaker fan in general but the Hawks and Avanti from those oh so distant days were an exception to the rule. I’m getting a little weak in the knees these days for clutch action but I could take it for short drives around the berg.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
  8. DeeBee

    When I was a kid in the late 50’s Mom and Dad had a Starliner with the hill-holder option 1953 model.

    Like 1
  9. ruxvette

    Fantastic car, but…the rust is a concern, especially in the frame. The body looks to have at least a five gallon bucket of bondo added. After a media blasting it mat look like swiss cheese.

    Like 1
  10. bone

    I know Studebaker was in a lot of trouble financially by this time , but no one should be surprised they sold less than 4000 of these in 1961 . With new car designs constantly coming out from the big 3, as well as Rambler , why would anyone want a new car that looks like its out of 1955 ? I guess you could even say 1953 , as the basic platform dates back that far . I guess Stude must have known the handwriting was on the wall and just kept chugging out the same old stuff – The GT was an improvement with its more up to date styling, but again, underneath it was the same old thing

    Like 3
  11. Big C

    There’s a reason Studebaker went out of business. Selling 8 to 10 year old designs when the Big 3 were coming up with something new, every year. Bad management has killed lesser companies.

    Like 2
    • Gerald Edgar

      It takes big $$$ to retool all the parts & assembly for new models – money that Studebaker did not have compared to the Big 3. GM, Ford & Chrysler also had the advantage of bldg vehicles for our military during WWII while Studebaker was assigned to bldg aircraft engines (B-17’s often had Studebaker power!)

      Like 1
      • wayneC Member

        Studbeaker built almost 500 thousand trucks for the Lend Lease program. Most of these trucks ended up going to Russia, where Studebaker became part of the Russian language meaning well built heavy trucks.

        Like 1
  12. Jeffry Hayes Member

    Studebaker could not update its designs because they did have the money necessary for re-tooling due to bad management. the doors used on ’53 to ’55 Studebaker 4 door sedans were also used from ’56 through ’58, and hen the
    early Larks. If the company had been managed better, it could have kept up with the big 3. I would love to have this car, even with the potential costs to fix it.

    Like 3
  13. Dwight

    I got my license with this car.What a pleasure to drive.I also had a Police intercepter with twin 4s.That was a golden Hawk that would pass everyone.

  14. tony t

    My ’18 WRX has the “hill-holder” feature. Only “hills” are the overpasses over the Truman Parkway.

  15. James Nichol

    The Hillholder was not an option but rather was standard equipment on standard shift Studebakers. It helped me learn to drive a stick on the family ’57 Provincial station wagon. I wonder who at Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) had the idea of incorporating it on all Subaru standard shift cars?

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