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Original Survivor: 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Some manufacturers that have been lost in the mist of time deserved greater success than they achieved. AMC was one, and Studebaker is another that springs to mind. The latter didn’t produce any genuinely bad cars, but it simply lacked the budget to compete on a level playing field with The Big Three. The 1956 Golden Hawk is an example of the battles faced by Studebaker. It was little more than an updated version of the 1955 Speedster, but it offered performance and comfort comparable with more expensive Personal Luxury Cars. This 1956 model is an original and unmolested survivor. It isn’t perfect, leaving potential buyers to choose between preservation and restoration. The Golden Hawk is listed here on Craigslist in the Montevideo region in beautiful Western Minnesota. You could drive this beauty home by handing its owner $25,000.

Studebaker introduced the Golden Hawk in 1956 as the successor to the previous year’s Halo Speedster model. It remained the company’s range-topping offering aimed to compete with the Ford Thunderbird and Chrysler 300B. While most buyers ordered their new Golden Hawk in a single paint shade, Studebaker offered a variety of two-tone combinations. How these were applied varied during 1956, with this car’s configuration suggesting it rolled off the line late in the model year. It looks stunning in Romany Red and Snowcap White, with the paint retaining a pleasing shine. The seller admits it might benefit from a cosmetic refresh, but the overall presentation makes preservation viable. The panels are straight, and there is no evidence or mention of rust problems. The glass looks excellent, and the chrome sparkles beautifully. The steel wheels wear their correct hubcaps, with the whitewalls adding the perfect finishing touch to the exterior.

The Thunderbird and Chrysler 300B have often been considered the performance benchmarks within the 1956 Personal Luxury Car segment, but this Golden Hawk could show both a clean set of heels. Its engine bay houses the original 352ci V8 that sends 275hp and 380 ft/lbs of torque to the road via a manual transmission with overdrive. The ¼-mile journey should take 15.4 seconds as this beauty hauls its way to 128mph. It is worth considering what Ford and Chrysler buyers received for their money to put those figures into perspective. The 300B returned figures of 16.2 seconds and 124mph, while the most potent Thunderbird trailed well behind with 16.4 seconds and 114mph. This Golden Hawk is in excellent mechanical health, recently receiving a new fuel pump, water pump, and generator. It runs and drives well, leaving the new owner the option of flying in and developing a relationship with their new purchase on the road trip home.

Finding anything inside this Golden Hawk worthy of criticism is challenging, with the cracked wheel and mild deterioration on the door trims appearing to be its only significant faults. The seats look excellent, the carpet is above average for its age, and the pad is uncracked. The car features the beautiful machine-turned fascia that looks spotless, and while it isn’t highly equipped by modern standards, the original pushbutton radio should relieve boredom on long journeys.

Studebaker produced the Golden Hawk between 1956 and 1958, but many enthusiasts consider the first-year examples the most attractive. The 1957 model year brought significant rear styling changes, particularly to the fins. It was undoubtedly distinctive but was also less elegant. This one looks like an absolute gem, and while it isn’t cheap, the steady increase in values above the market average and recent sales results suggest the price is justified. It will appeal to a limited pool of potential buyers, although I suspect it will find a new home fairly quickly. Would you like to make it yours?


  1. HoA Howard A Member

    “Careful with that hood, Eugene”,,( takeoff on Pink Floyd) well known as the “guillotine” hood. Whaaaaaaaat? No supercharger? Hooray!! Seems today that’s all you see, when in fact, I never saw’r one. I heard stories, supercharged ones were finicky, and if the belt broke, many didn’t replace it. Anyone?
    Something about these cars. Perhaps it’s the same vintage as me, (wish I looked that good), or the fact the coolest looking car of the period, came from an orphan car maker, it was clearly ahead of its time, and still looks good today. At a car show out east few,,couple, several, OKAY, many years back, I attended a car show in upstate NY, all the biggies were there. Cords, Deusys, Subarus and a red Hawk like this. They were taking votes on what the public liked, and while I never do such things, I did cast a vote for the Hawk. This, I’ve always felt, was the granddaddy to the personal cruisers of the 60s. Didn’t happen often, but if you saw this in your rear view on Hy.41( one of the 1st 4 lanes in Wis), best move over, it looks fast sitting still. I don’t think these ever got the respect they deserved, perhaps because it was a “Studebaker”, just an old sounding name, but the ones that had these, knew it was the coolest car to have.
    Another thing I rarely do, is condone ANY 5 figure price tag on classic cars, but watching the baloney car auctions, people have the cash, and will get the nicest car from the late 50s, whether they realize it or not. Beautiful cars.

    Like 25
    • Mark Jurgensen

      Supercharger wasn’t until ’57, so that the same 275 hp rating was attained with Studebaker’s 289 after the Packard 352 was no longer produced.

      Like 4

      For 56, the Golden Hawk’s powerplant was the big 352 cid Packard engine. The 57 GH used the Stude 289 V8 and those were available with the SC, not the 56.

      Like 13
    • RexFox Member

      I do love Pink Floyd’s Relics album Howard! This car is super nice too.

      Like 4
    • Robert E McDonald

      Howdy Howard,
      Mark is correct. My fam has several of these 57-58 all supercharged with 289 displacement.
      My personal fav is my Dad’s 63 Gran T. I liked your poignant sentence, “ahead of their time”
      Folks used to think the 63 was a Mercedes…
      My Uncle used to go around the oval in a 57-58 Partsbaker….Good times…

      Like 0
    • Frank

      The 56 I drove in. High school was my brother’s while he was in the Army. Ours was green and white with two 4 barrels and a 3 speed on the floor w/ o. D. Very fast. Stewart Warner gauges BTW.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        The dual 4 barrel carb setup was either added by the dealer, or later on, as the Golden Hawk wasn’t available with the dual carbs [no room for the Batwing air cleaner used on the Packards. I know of 3 more Hawks with the dual carbs, but all were added later. The OD trans was available, but super rare!

        Like 1
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great looking ride. Man, I really miss two tone paint jobs! Never been a fan of the fuzzy dice though.

    Like 14
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    I admit to spending more time than normal just looking at My ’53. Just flat loved the design the first time I saw one. Didn’t really like the Mercedes nose on the cars but they did outshine everything else out there.

    Like 8
    • Chris Cornetto

      I was never crazy about these and not sure why. I had numerous opportunities years back to buy nice ones but passed. I always wanted a Lark wagonair but never came close. I will say this is an outstanding copy, a great color combo. This certainly beats the 7,500.00 turd that lies a few miles from me. You could make that one look like this copy for three times this cars asking price. A Stude fan will get a good one here.

      Like 7
  4. Anthony Gaby

    These cars were the “Trans-Ams” of the ’50s ..just check out the engine turned dash with the gauges and tach ..Bucket seats in back…Sleek Lowey “Europeans design…Not top heavy looking like the other models of the ’50s..One that was under appreciated…until recently..as Studebaker was known as a “working mans car”…It was an “appliance” rather than a “status” symbol…

    Like 14
  5. Solosolo UK Solosolo UK Member

    An ex friend of mine had a ’57 I think it was, and that had a supercharger but whether it ever worked or not I have no idea as I never knew it to leave his garage. He also had a Triumph TR 3 with a supercharger and that went like stink. He had 15 or so classic cars and over 40 vintage tractors. He also had a 1958 Lincoln convertible that he sold to me but when I went to trailer it home he had changed his mind as he said his son wanted it. That’s why he is my ex friend!

    Like 12
    • Poppy

      Thanks for answering everyone’s question about being an “ex-friend!” I’ve observed similar situations where that sort of thing severed relationships. Anyway, enjoy the photos of this gorgeous ’58 convertible advertised on Hemmings (if barnfinds will let me post it).

      Like 1
    • Poppy

      Check out the gorgeous yellow ’58 convertible on Hemmings’ site.

      Like 2
  6. Jeff Williams

    A three speed with OD? Sweet! The 352 is a torque monster. I’d upgrade front brakes to Turner disks.

    Like 1
  7. Mike Hawke

    This has the big Packard motor.

    Like 9
    • Poppy

      And power steering with the 3-spd/OD transmission combination. Somewhat rare as most people opting for PS also opted for the AT. My ’54 Commander has that same combination and it’s quite nice. I’m sure this car has the hill-holder too even though many owners don’t even realize it.

      Like 11
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Correct…..most went with the auto – a standard in a GH is rare and expect a OD is maybe rarer…..really nice car there.

        Like 6
  8. chrlsful

    cant really agree w/that last sent (“appliance”) but more w/the auto writer (personal lux, later lingo- ‘executive car’) and offer a tri-five or other for placement in that category.
    Studi joining packard then onto the nash/hudson conglomerate all 4 becoming AMC was ‘ok’ but not all it could have been we see in hind sight. Asa kid during that period it all seemed a flash w/only the avanti still being made. Dont get me wrong, I loved the AMX and some of the different jeep configurations built to this day.
    One wonders Y we did not ‘bail out’ then (70 yr ago) like the recent (15 yr ago) ‘big 3′ help given. I’m thinkin we might have competed on world stage today w/fiat (stellantis), vw (group) and toy (et al) if we did so. I often think merican business holds themselves out as special, like separation of church and state, when doing well (“no regulations, plez”) and turns tail to request $ support when in trouble. I say give’em both. Then we could ask back for a scaleable EV at everyman’s price and bea world-wide competer ! Thats what winning looks like~

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      The rumors about Studebaker-Packard joining forces with Nash-Hudson simply are not correct. The closest the companies got was in 1950 when George Mason of Nash made a proposal to the Packard Motor Car Company’s board of directors, but Packard wasn’t interested, and no further action was taken by either side.

      I believe this rumor has continued to generate interest because, let’s face it, creating another company of 4 independents to compete against the big 3, would likely survived far longer than what actually happened.

      Like 1
  9. Leon Jenkins

    One of the guys that used to hang around with us, had a “plane jane” Studie. It was standard shift and he would chalange guys to race. He bet he would start out in 2nd. gear, squeal the tires, leave it in 2nd. and win fastest in a quarter mile and all in 2nd. gear. If they didn’t believe him, he would invite one of their friends to ride with him and he would “Do it again”. It would rev so high, twice it shot a push rod right thru the valve cover. I don’t believe he ever lost a race.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Leon Jenkins,

      I owned an all-original 1956 Studebaker Silver Hawk hardtop with 54,000 miles. It was equipped with the Studebaker 289, 4 barrel carb, dual exhaust, 3 speed & overdrive, and Twin Traction [posi] rear diff.

      While I never did race it “all in 2nd gear”, I did utilize the overdrive in all 3 gears, effectively giving the car 6 forward speed ranges. The car had a low numerical rear axle [3.07 I think], and it would quickly exceed 70mph in 2nd overdrive, without straining the engine one bit.

      I ran the Hawk against 2 different ’56 Golden Hawks with overdrive, and in both instances the Silver Hawk was faster. That’s one of many cars I regretted selling, and wish I still had it today. I sold it after I had open heart surgery, as my doctors said no driving anything without power steering.

      Also of note, the 1956 Hawks have a different hood, with a short hood bump in the center. As Hawk hoods often open at speed and wrap over the windshield/roof, This car’s original & undamaged hood is quite valuable today.

      Like 3
      • Joe Barber

        Did you mean 56 Sky Hawk ! That’s a rare bird today, the rarest of the 4 hawk models of 56. Production run of just over 3,000. 1956 models, Golden and Sky Hawk were hardtops and the Power and Flight Hawks were the coupes.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        Yes, Sky Hawk, thanks for spotting that. I’ve had a lot of Hawks over the years, and wasn’t thinking when I wrote the comment! It’s still my favorite of all the ones I’ve owned, it was a garage-kept 54,000 mile original car..

        Like 2
  10. Terry

    My wife and I took a long stroll in the Studebaker museum just a month ago. ‘Though I truly enjoy my light blue ’50 Commodore, I was struck with the styling and engineering features of each and every one of the gems there. My wife’s parents had a bullet-nose (the exact model, she cannot recall). I agree with Howard A that the Golden Hawk looks like it’s “on the move” while parked. Compared to the many ordinary cars with higher sell prices, this hopefully will achieve $25K. Park it next to my Hudson at the next Cars and Coffee.

    Like 3
  11. Bob Trachy

    I had a 1956 President for decades. 2 door,289 2 barrel,dual exhaust, overdrive and 4.10 gears. It embarrassed many a vehicle. Amazing torque for a small block. I always thought the 289 sounded like a 440 Mopar at idle. Lots of stories with that car but my favorite one is. In the early 70’s I was driving to Denver with a friend from the Phila area. We stopped in Cleveland to visit his sister. She had a preppy boyfriend with a new Porsche 911. He was leaving for Denver the next morning. I suggested we drive together. He smirked and laughed at the suggestion. He said he would be pulling into Denver and we would be just getting into Kansa city and refilling my gas hog Studebaker. Well…. We drove that trip with many 100 to 120 mph bursts, he never got away from us and I challenged him to a gas mileage competition also. The Studebaker averaged around 18 mpg. The Porsche 17 mpg. What a great trip that was.

    Like 4
  12. Gavin Elster

    I understand, when these cars were new, a Cadillac engine was professionally “dropped-in ” and you had a discreet XK120, or Corvette-killer, something called a Studillac. A suave Dominic Dunne character had one, in his book, set in 50’s Manhattan and Connecticut.

    Like 2
    • Joseph

      Corvette only wish they could beat a Studebaker in 1956. Only Chryslers and Caddies could hang with a Golden Hawk

      Like 3
  13. Paul Bonchi

    In the eighties when I was kiddo, we d go to see my grandparents. Trophies covering the China cabinet, and my pap would show me his latest. His 56 Studebaker GH was cream and golden tan, and took first place at so many shoes in western PA and Ohio. What a beautiful car, and of course the awesome Packard motor. His was an automatic, which actually had a sport mode, making use of the 2nd gear. Correct me if am wrong. I grew up sitting beside him on our visits, listening to his tales of all the interesting cars he was making brake shoes for(him and his friend had business called Valley Brake in Allegheny county), and hearing about cars that his friends had. My pap was still making brake shoes for classic cars all the way thru his eighties. He showed me what passion for your trade was all about. In my opinion,The 56 Golden Hawk is a stunning piece of automotive art.

    Like 4
  14. DJS

    The original It car no one appreciated: long hood/short deck before Mustang/Barracuda; midsize muscle before GTO; personal luxury before Thunderbird went to four seats and all the beauties got in line. Ahead of it’s time before the Avanti was ahead of it’s time. So glad to see a few of these lately, and drooling over this one!

    Like 3
  15. D.K.Acks

    With that transmission set up, if I had the cash I would be flying up to get inspected the car and arrange transportation home

    Like 0

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