One Family for 60 Years: 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

This 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk has been in the same family since 1959. The time has come for it to move on, and you have to wonder whether it can repeat the performance. If it does, it might actually be 123-years-old before it heads on to its next family. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Studebaker is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently sitting at $10,000, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

Two-tone paint schemes were definitely a popular choice on the Golden Hawk in 1956. In fact, two-tone cars outsold single paint colors by a ratio of 7:1. This Golden Hawk is finished in a combination of Cambridge Gray and Snowcap White, with 115 cars rolling off the line finished in this combination. The owner is pretty honest about the condition of the paint and says that it looks far better in the photos than it does in the flesh. Rust doesn’t appear to be a major issue with the car, which is a bonus. The Golden Hawk was known for a few issues with the floor and lower body extremities, but this one appears to have survived quite well. There are a few spots visible, but none of it appears to be too bad.

The interior of the Studebaker has survived quite well over the past 60-years. The Gray and White trim nicely match the exterior paint, and apart from the headliner, which is looking tired, the rest of it looks pretty good. I really love the machine-turned dash, but the aftermarket radio/cassette player hanging under the dash is slightly less thrilling. For your comfort, the interior also features power windows and a power seat. So, apart from potentially needing a new headliner, there really isn’t much to do inside the Studebaker.

Under the hood of the Golden Hawk, the original 275hp, 352ci V8 engine has long gone, and in its place, this family has slotted in a 327ci Corvette engine of unspecified vintage. This sends its power to the road via the original 3-speed manual transmission, with overdrive. The Studebaker is also fitted with power steering, which was a popular option on the Golden Hawk. It isn’t clear why this engine change took place, but it may well be related to the ready availability of parts for the 327, versus the original engine. The car also used to be fitted with power brakes, but these are now unassisted. However, the original booster is included with the car. The owner states that the car runs and drives really well and that it should generally be considered as well maintained, but not restored.

I have a real soft spot for the Studebaker Golden Hawk because the styling was just so distinctive. Some people dislike them, and this is usually for exactly the same reason. It’s disappointing that the original engine has now gone, but if it was changed for purely practical purposes, then I can respect that. We’ve seen a few project-grade Golden Hawks here at Barn Finds, and the vast majority of them are in need of some pretty substantial rust repair. This one appears to be an exception to that rule, and even though it is no longer original, I think that there might be a little way to go before the reserve is reached.

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Comments

  1. jmolsn Member

    I was on the Golden Hawk train until you mentioned the engine swap. Too bad it happened, probably a good reason but nope, sorry!!

    Like 12
    • JP

      Shouldn’t be too hard to find a Packard 352 to replace the replacement. Wouldn’t be numbers matching, but in this car I don’t think it would make much difference. These are definitely the best looking Golden Hawks (fact, not opinion :-), so I’m sure someone other than the shill bidder will take it home.

  2. Will Fox

    The `56 Golden Hawks are the only vintage I cared for. Unique rear styling that wasn’t carried over, and sharp breaking point for the two-tone paint. The power window switches are GM units; the factory buttons probably gave out 50+ years ago. (Actually, Studebakers so equipped used Chrysler switchgear from `54-`58)
    I bet with the Vette 327, this car hums right along! Too bad it’s not an automatic. You won’t win any ‘survivor’ awards at the Studebaker Club meet since much of it isn’t original, but a very nice ‘driveable collector’ it is!

    Like 4
  3. Bob C.

    The original 352 was actually a Packard engine which was a one year only job, I believe. The 327 was a good choice for a replacement, but it would really be something with a Studey 289 and a Paxton super charger.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey

      Bob C,
      Actually the Packard 352 was introduced for the 1955 Senior Packard line, and continued thru into the 1956 model line for the Super and Custom Clippers. If the new owner wishes to replace the engine & 3-speed gearbox, Either year will work, but the oil pumps on the 1955 engines should be upgraded to a 1956 version. The other option is to go with the ’56 Packard Senior series 374 engine, or convert a 352 to a 374 spec motor. Either way, once the oil pump has been improved, these are bullet-proof engines and parts are not a problem!

      If the trans has been replaced with a GM unit, there is an alternative; while the 3-speed Packard trans are hard to find, it’s basically the same as used on full size fords in the early 1960s. [And with the Ford version you get syncro on 1st gear!]

      Like 1
      • Bob C.

        Hi Bill, right you are about the 352, but I was referring it to being a one year only job for the Hawk exclusively. Sorry about that.

  4. Tony Primo

    I can just imagine the Golden Hawk stylists at the bar one evening. Stylist 1- “Crap, we forgot to leave room in the grille for the turn signals!” Stylist 2- “Don’t worry, we can stick them on top of the fenders”.

    Like 6
    • Chas358 Chasman358

      👍

    • Kenny

      My wife and I have 4 Studebaker Hawks (yes I know, it’s an addiction), 2 with the fender mounted turn signals (a ’56 and a ’57), and 2 with the grille mounted signals (a ’59 and a ’61) and we both love the signals on the fenders. They are unusual and cool. As a matter of fact, when we drive them in the evening, my wife says: “Engage the cute lights!” to which I reply: “Cute lights Engaged!
      Aye, Aye!”

      Like 2
  5. Ken Carney

    The engine was probably swapped out
    sometime in the ’70’s when rebuild parts
    for a Packard V-8 were thought to be
    almost non-existent back then. This
    was especially true in the South where
    replacement parts for a car like this often took weeks or even months to
    arrive at your local dealer when something broke. Sad to say, this trend
    still continues today. A friend of mine
    once owned a ’92 Chrysler New Yorker
    and had to wait three months for a water
    pump–and that was through a Mopar
    dealer! Here in Florida, if it doesn’t have
    Ford or Chevy written on it, you’ll be stuck
    without a car while your mechanic waits
    patiently for the proper parts to arrive.
    Gotta replace the ignition lock cylinder in
    Mom’s LeSabre and we were told that it
    would take up 6 months to get a replacement for it from the Buick dealer
    over in Lakeland. (Sigh) Life in the South,
    ya’ gotta love to t!

    Like 2
    • Gaspumpchas

      Interesting commentary on the parts situation, Ken. Used to be the dealers went back 20 years on replacement parts availability. No More. Most of the stuff is junk in a few years, plus I really feel its built in obsolescence so you will buy a new car more often. Luckily, there are places like Rockauto where you can get a good selection of parts and reasonably fast delivery. On the other side of the coin, getting good used parts for an old car is getting increasingly difficult. Good thing we got ebay. When the redneck Bonanza was on a few years ago, and you could get 16 cents a pound for a junk car, everything including the old stuff went to the crusher. Plus some new parts if not most are made in China. try getting a good quality set of points these days- most not stocked, and even some of the traditionally best ignition parts, like Echlin, are china made. Tough situation. My mechanic swears by OEM parts almost exclusively.
      Sorry this is long winded and off topic.
      Cheers
      GPC

      Like 8
  6. Ikey Heyman

    Looks like a nice driver, but without the original Packard 352, $10K is all the money for this.

    Like 2
  7. Hotroddaddy

    I loved it right up to the time you mentioned that the original Packard engine was gone. Kinda knocked all of the wind out of my sails!

    Like 2
  8. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Handsome vehicles.
    My “restomod demon” keeps prodding me to imagine what it would look like as a ragtop.

  9. PatrickM

    I have a real soft spot for these Hawks. Even if the appraisal folks rate this at $10,000.00, I have a hard time coming up with that kind of money. Their opinions just don’t fit the average Joe. Kinda kicks us in the slats. I would almost bet the engine swap was for practical reasons. I have no problem with it. It is a great looking car and I would really like to have it. It is even close enough for me to get interested, except for that price. Hmmmph!

    Like 2
  10. Ed

    I know this car, The engine was swapped in 1965. It is an honest well kept car.

    Like 3
  11. Kenny

    Just search Brent Hagen Studebaker in Portland, Oregon on your computer and you’ll find a super nice guy who specializes in 1956 Golden Hawk parts exclusively. The Packard engine, and parts to rebuild them, and all other parts for them are available through him. Incidentally– this car was originally equipped with Power Steering and a Manual Transmission– the most desirable power train– and only around 110 of them were so equipped…
    Also check out 1956goldenhawk.com

    Like 1

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