One Year Wonder: 1956 Studebaker Power Hawk

Studebaker built a series of “family sports cars” between 1956-64 that carried some form of the name Hawk. This involved no less than eight models which were offered as 2-door, 4-seat coupes, with or without door posts. The Power Hawk was one of those cars and only available for the 1956 model year, seeing production of just 7,095 units. That includes the seller’s example, which is said to run great but will need some help in the cosmetics department. It’s available in Sacramento, California and here on Facebook Marketplace for $8,000.

The Power Hawk was a pillared coupe from the Hawk’s first year, not long after Studebaker and Packard became one company. Design cues for the Hawks included a square-shaped chrome grille and a flat-backed deck lid. Two versions of the Studebaker Commander 259 cubic inch V8 were offered in the Power Hawk, putting out 170 horsepower with a 2-barrel carb and maybe 200 with a 4-barrel. That was enough power to make the 3,000-lb. car light on its feet. There were two other Hawks available that year, the Flight Hawk and Sky Hawk. If this line-up sounds confusing to you, it probably was to buyers, so some consolidation took place the following year, with the Power Hawk being replaced by the Silver Hawk.

We don’t get many details on the seller’s car and the photos are all taken with the car clearly captive in a garage. If it’s a good runner, why not back it up outside for some more effective glamour shots? The body looks solid and rust-free, but the grey paint looks almost like primer with its flat finish and parts that are chromed now looking to be painted grey or black. The Hawk has some aftermarket wheels on it, but we don’t really get a good look at them. And things like the left taillight don’t seem to be present.

This looks like a car where a restoration got started and time or money ran out to complete the job. The red interior on this one looks as though it may need some work at a reported 88,000 miles on the odometer. This Power Hawk has a manual transmission, which we assume is a 3-speed. NADA says a sweet Power Hawk can run upwards of $20,000, so the seller is leaving the buyer with some wiggle room to finish the project.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Paint looks semi-gloss and the wheels are your basic off road wagon wheels. If it’s rust free underneath it certainly would be worth bringing it back to it’s former glory. Always thought the ’56s were the best looking of the Hawk series.

    Like 7
  2. Moparman Member

    Amazing! There was a car identical to this one long parked in an industrial area (though in much worse condition). I planned to take pictures of it, but it disappeared a couple of weeks ago; you snooze, you lose! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 3
  3. unclemymy Member

    What a cool barn find! I wonder how many years it has languished under yesterday’s dirty laundry?

    Like 3
  4. tiger66

    The Golden Hawk was also offered for ’56. There were three other Hawks that year, not two.

    Like 1
    • .C.T.A.

      There were four 1956 hawks. At the low end was the Flight Hawk it was a 6 cylinder. Next was the Power Hawk with a 253 V8, both of these hawks were coupes – with the post, they looked the same. Then came the Sky Hawk and a better interior a with a 283 V8, at the high end was the Golden Hawk, better interior, some more chrome and small fin, with a 351 V8, ( I think) Both the Sky and Golden Hawks were Hard tops, No post. There were a number of Flight Hawks with out the post built in Canada and shipped to Europe
      I personally do not care for the fins on the hawks they take away from the original design. I had a Flight Hawk in college in 1961 and now have a Power Hawk I had restored to original,

      Like 5
      • KW

        Just a slight correction: Power Hawk was a Studebaker 259, Sky Hawk was the 289 and the Golden Hawk had the Packard 352.

        Like 4
  5. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    What a beautiful body style. All I kept thinking when looking at the garage pictures was hoping that the left bike pedal was not digging into the quarter panel paint.

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars David Bassett Member

      Looks like the seller is more interested in collecting bikes than caring for this Stude. The garage is crammed full.

  6. Colin Peabody

    This Hawk appears to also have overdrive, evidenced by the T-handle below the left side of the dash. The handle is pulled out, so the OF is mechanically locked out, which might indicate it is electrically non functional.

  7. Ron

    Front end is not a 56

    Like 1
    • JoeBob

      Ron, I wondered about that too. The first car I got to drive at the age of 16 was my mom’s 56 Power Hawk. I flogged it mercilessly. What caught my eye about the front end is the absence of the fender vents for air. I’ve never seen a 56 without them and I thought they worked well breezing down the highway on a warm day.

    • Dave Balek

      Somebody took the parking/turn signals from the front fenders and put them in the grille inserts. Not a 56 front.

  8. Vince H

    In 57 the Silver Hawk replaced both the Flight Hawk and Power Hawk.

    If there is a electrical problem with the OD. It will just free wheel if it is pushed in.
    I would want to see it before paying the ask.

    Like 2
  9. Johnny C.

    The turn signals appear to be from a “newer” version… My ’59 Silver Hawk had them. Regardless, these are excellent cars when found in good condition, though this one is slightly over-priced. (as are most cars these days)

  10. Steve Clinton

    Is the seller too lazy to take the rags and bags off the car before taking the pics? Unbelievable.

    Like 3
  11. Maestro1 Member

    The Seller needs to do better on the pictures of the car so we can see it. The car was registered in California about two years ago. Where has it been?

    Like 1
  12. Johnj Member

    Not a 56 Power Hawk front end,looking at the pic. that was of mine. Lights were on the top of the fender. All Studebaker coiuld afford was movng parts around from model to model. As a PU had the headlite rings from an early car, think the 49 Stude. The Hawk body was from 1953 until Stude died.
    I also wish people would get the vehicle out of the garage, clean the crap off of it and wash it, geez!!!

    Like 5
  13. JoeBob

    No air vents on the front fenders. I never saw a 56 without them.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Looks like this Hawk may have been slightly customized. Which included filling over those fender vents. Also note the lack of trim around the taillight lenses. They appear to be “frenched” into the fenders. Lots of filler judging by the limited photo angles.

      Like 1
      • C.T.A.

        The fender vents were one of the bad places for rusting out. I had a 1956 Hawk purchase in 1961 , A 5 year old car and the vent on the drivers side was rusted out, I patched it with fiber glass and resin , not a real good patch but it worked. I kept the car for about 5 years.

        Like 1
  14. Vince H

    The heater wont work without a vent on the right front fender. The proper parking lights are had to find and cost a lot. There is so much wrong with this it would be better to resto mod it. Front seat looks like 59-60.

    Like 2
  15. Bob K

    This is basically the same car as the 1953 coupe, a really iconic design.
    Then they grafted on fins for a few years which actually worked.
    Then off with the fins and on with the Thunderbird roof which worked very well and kept the basic car in production over a decade

    Like 2
  16. Jim Vickers

    This one makes me cry. My first car was ’55 Commander coupe in 1966. Nearly the same, different dash. It was a rust bucket. I guess they can survive in California, Not like PA. I see this one is upgraded with an alternator; original was 6 V (1955).

    Like 1
  17. James Craig

    We had a ’56 Power Hawk in the early ’60’s when I was 12, dark gray with a white painted top as I recall. I remember seeing it for the first time when I rode my bicycle home from school and it was parked in our circle drive. I opened the door and sat in the drive’s seat – it felt like a sports car to me. My dad came out of the house and I asked him, “Is this ours?” He gave me a rather disgusted look and said, “Your Uncle John was just here”, so even at that tender age I knew he was in a tight for money and Dad bought the car from him to bail him out! Great car; good memories!

    Like 1

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