Rare Bird: 1956 Studebaker Power Hawk

One of the first products to come out of the Studebaker-Packard merger was the Studebaker Power Hawk. It was a V8 powered sedan positioned between the Flight Hawk (pillared) and Sky Hawk (non-pillared) two-door models. This one from 1956 (the only year made) was found in a barn in New York and has the original dirt and grime to prove it. It’s now in a garage waiting for the next chapter of its life. Ballston Spa, New York is its current location and it’s available here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $3,495, although offers are considered.

One plus one doesn’t always equal two, although when Packard bought Studebaker in 1954, they were hoping it might add up to three. That would not be the case as the Packard brand itself disappeared after the 1958 model year. The Power Hawk was a spawn of the Studebaker Commander series and used that car’s 259 cubic inch V-8 which was good for 170 or 185 hp, depending on carburetion. Buyers could choose between the Flight, Power, or Sky Hawk variations in 1956, but for 1957 they would be scaled back to just one, the Silver Hawk. Even for Studebaker, production numbers were low at just 7,095 units.

If you were to give this Power Hawk a good cleaning, you’d probably find more items that need attention than we can see the way it sits. There are some items missing, like the bumpers and a headlight bezel. While there may be some rust bubbles brewing along the bottoms of fenders and doors, overall the body looks pretty straight and would benefit from a sandblasting. The door panels, carpeting, and headliner seem to have suffered the worst inside the car, but we’re thinking that the seats and dash may clean up nicely. The car hasn’t run in years and we don’t know if the engine spins as there is no battery to check anything out.

The buyer will have a car that should roll and steer for its next trailer outing. The seller says the car has a transferrable NY State registration, so am I to assume you can’t get a title on a car this old in that state? If this car was in great condition, it might bring $20,000 (well, it is a Studebaker). The question becomes how much will the restoration cost and would that put you in the red before you got done? But it does look like a solid car that deserves a chance to get back into action.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    At the risk of sounding like our Kenosha-bound compadre, you gotta wonder if there is anyone under 60 who would be willing to take this project on. Conversely, you gotta wonder if there is anyone over 60 who would be willing to take this project on. Questions!

    Like 17
    • Ed Hardt

      I’m under 60 and I think Studs are cool. I’m not sure if I could do this car justice with a complete restoration, but I’d cruise it around if I could get it up and running.

      Like 7
    • Charles Sawka

      Yeah,I’m 70 and trying to quit, but this one cold be nice !

      Like 2
    • Donald E Pruett

      Mr. Kahrs: I’m Donald Pruett in Peoria Arizona. I’m a 76 year old retired Phoenix firefighter. When I was 19 I bought a 1956 Studebaker Power Hawk for $500.00 from the back of a used car lot in Phoenix in the spring of 1963. It had the 259 cu.in V8/2 Barrel Stromburg carb. and an automatic. It had a fresh white top W/Cadillac green bottom paint job on it. Interior was in great shape. When I got finished with a valve job, shaved heads & intake manifold, four barrel AFB carb, Duel point Mallory ignition system, duel exhaust and a set of Avanti hub caps, new tires & brakes I had a real bomb on my hands. I won fastest in class trophy at Mesa, AZ’s Mel Larsen’s BeeLine Dragway in the summer of `64. NHRA sent me a letter inviting me to “Defend my title” at the Bakersfield California Winter Nationals that year. It was my daily driver and I had to go to work every day so that was out of the question. I loved that little car. Traded it off in 1966 because the electrical system was failing due to age and our summer heat. Wish I’d never done that. If I had your Hawk I’d be kept real busy but I’m on a pension and don’t have the extra funds for that kind of project. Thanks for the memories. Be well & God bless.

      Like 1
  2. unclemymy Member

    When I was a kid in a small town in NW Florida, a man had one of these in black and gold. Of course, in 1966, it was referred to as the Batmobile. He was a kind of cool eccentric himself, like his car (might have been Batman, for all we knew). But what I remember most was his cute daughter – hey, Susan, if you’re out there – I’m still nuts about you!

    Like 9
  3. scott m

    2 comments- If I was 60 I would be very conflicted lol. And PATINApATINApatINApatiNApa….

    Like 1
  4. IkeyHeyman

    I have a ’57 Silver Hawk, same basic car but with the 289 engine. If you like this body style, you can find better restoration candidates. In fact, other than perhaps the Avanti and Golden Hawk, values of Studebakers seem to be heading south, I’ve see some good deals.

    Like 5
    • Ronald Bohlman

      Have you seen any Sky Hawks lately?
      Always enjoy your comments.
      Thanks
      Ron

    • Bob Roller

      The value of Studebakers went South while they were still being made.Same for Packard after 1953.Only about 27,000 Packards sold in 1954 and the new and powerful V8 in 1955 unraveled the Ultramatics faster than they could replace them on warranty.
      I tried out a Hawk of some kind that had the Packard V8 with a stick shift and overdrive and it was a power house on a straight run but any attempt at hard cornering was scary to say the least.
      Both Studebaker and Packard had their days of glory and when they faded nobody cared and some I knew were glad they were gone.

  5. Pete Phillips

    Not sure if that hood is genuine 1956–I know that the ’56 Golden Hawks have a very short hood bulge behind the fake hood scoop ornament; this one has a bulge that goes all the way back to the cowl, like a ’57 or ’58. The bucket seats are mid-1960s Dodge or Plymouth.
    Still worth restoring!

    Like 2
    • Charles T Ashby

      In 1961 I had a Flight hawk as my first car It had the long fake air in take on the hood. In 2014 I bought a Power Hawk with the short pod . 95% of the original parts were on the car –not all worked. The car has been in a total restoration to original with a few additions of which were on the Power Hawk as options in 1956. This Studebaker has taken First Place in its class at a major auto show. Restoration is not cheap, but most parts can be found. Some as NOS. I do not have any plans to sell Power Hawk.

  6. luke arnott Member

    It’a coupe,not a sedan.

    Like 3
  7. Chuck

    More than the bumpers and headlight bezel are misssing. Thos seats and console, while they might be comfortable and utilitarian, do not belong.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      Chuck,

      You are correct, the only front seat available on ALL Hawks thru 1960 was a bench seat, with folding backs to get into the back seat.

      Like 1
  8. JoeBob396

    My mom had one of these. It was a nice ride. It was the first car I got to drive. Sadly, I flogged it mercilessly. The Stude really stood up pretty well, but the Borg-Warner auto wasn’t a match for me. After getting the tranny rebuilt a few times, she got rid of it.

    Like 1
  9. Joe Btfsplk

    New York did not begin issuing titles until 1974. Vehicles made prior to 1974 need only a transferable registration.

    Like 1
  10. Bill McCoskey

    Russ,

    You mentioned the Flight, Power, and Sky hawk versions for 1956, and the Silver Hawk for 1957, but forgot to mention the Golden Hawk for each year.

    The Golden Hawk for 1956 used the big [but heavy] Packard V8 engine, and for 1957 the Golden Hawk used the Studebaker 289 with a McCulloch supercharger, for 275 HP.

    Like 1
  11. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    RussRussRuss……….you got it…… rong rong rong !

  12. Vince H

    The 352vPackard weighed about the same as the supercharged Studebaker 289.

    Like 1
    • Ed P

      True. The Packard engine was mounted farther forward than the Studebaker engine. That changed the balance of the car causing the nose heavy feel.

      Like 1
  13. Vince H

    Hood is not correct for 56. It was considered a replacement hood for them after a year.

  14. Deryle Matthews

    Would love to have this car. This was my first car. I was a sophomore in high school. Mine was baby blue with white top. It had a bench seat. The hood on mine was smooth, you had to let it down slowly or it would bend in the middle. That must be why this one has a different hood. I lived in Hurst, Texas

  15. PatrickM

    Ebay sign says SOLD for $3.495.00. Not out of this boy’s wallet! Way too much work to be done. Half, at best. GL to the new owner. He’ll need it, along with deep pockets. I always have to remember, they all look better in the ads, no matter how dusty and crusty they appear. In person inspections usually set one back on their heels. “Really!?!?”

    Like 1
  16. Charles T Ashby

    I had a 56 Flight Hawk in 1961 as my first car also light blue ,but had a dark blue top with changed to a white. The hood came loose and folded over the top of the roof. It also broke at the hinge I had the hood repaired and also had a strip of 1/8 inch angle iron welded in side the hood next to the hinge This solved the hood problem. When opening the hood and closing it you need to pull it toward you first before raising or lowering it. I now have a 56 Power Hawk, restored to original condition.

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