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Rusty Gold: 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Being a fan of all things oddball, I just can’t resist a Studebaker barn find. Of all the great American brands to have ever built cars, Studebaker made some of the most unusually fantastic ones. Not only were they odd, but quite often they were incredibly innovative and featured technology no other American manufacturer dared to put in a car. This 1956 Golden Hawk was the fastest American built coupe when it was new; it was even faster than the Corvette. It somehow made its way into storage and was forgotten for 37 years. It has recently been pulled out of storage and needs a new home. Find it here on craigslist in Kingston, New York for $5,900. Special thanks to George S for the this tip!

Studebaker Golden Hawk

The Golden Hawk was Studebaker’s flagship of the Hawk line, with the most standard features and the biggest engine. Developing an engine is an expensive undertaking, so Studebaker often sourced engines from their competitors. Powering this Hawk is a Packard built 352 cui V8, which is rated at 275 horsepower. With a relatively low curb weight and the massive V8, the Golden Hawk had one of the highest power to weight ratio of any car on the market for ’56. The seller doesn’t state what condition this one’s motor currently is in, but they do mention that the motor is the 352 V8.

Golden Hawk Interior

By today’s standard, the Golden Hawk’s interior looks plain and simple, but when this car was new it had a stylish and comfortable interior. As you can see this one is going to need some work inside, but it is complete and salvageable. The dash looks to be crack free and I see all the hard to find bits. The seller claims there were only 500 of these built, but a quick search shows that there were closer to 4k built in 1956. I doubt there are many of these left on the road, so hopefully someone will give this Hawk a new lease on life.

Golden Hawk Barn Find

I’ve seen several of these cars in person, including a couple supercharged versions. Every time I’ve had such an opportunity, I’ve been impressed with the styling and odd shape. While a ’56 Corvette might be more desirable, I’d much rather have a Golden Hawk, simply for the oddball status and unique character. I can guarantee you would get more “what is it” questions than any Corvette owner and you’d have the satisfaction of knowing in a race your Hawk would win! The question is, is this the Golden Hawk to buy?


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    These are my favorite 50’s American cars! Not sure this is the right one for me, though, I think I’d like either less rust or fewer dollars :-) Hope someone puts it back on the road, though!

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  2. Don Sicura

    This is one of the cars that is on my bucket list, but I ain’t going to buy any more rusty cars from New York, I have to say that the price is awfully appealing & and this is exactly the car I want but I’m really fighting the urge……..lol

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  3. DT

    If it was from Southern California or Arizona,and had a 4 speed

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  4. jean brunton

    had one new they had a packard engine in them they did blow the doors off the vette tbird and 300 i say yes checkbook, no

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  5. Rick

    What’s really cool is if you park one of these next to a Ford or Chevy from the 1956 model year, you’ll see that the Stude has a way lower profile. And love the twin antennas!

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  6. Dolphin Member

    Every time I see one of these at a Show ‘N Shine I poke my head in and look at the engine-turned dash and all the gauges. It’s like the Italian exotics of the time that had 6 or 8 gauges and looked so impressive. Too bad this one had to live and rust in NY, but these are so special that I’m guessing that it gets bought.

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  7. gunningbar

    Yeah I like Studes

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  8. redavanti

    There are more on the road than you would think. Parts a plentiful. The only thing not Studebaker is the engine and trans. Reproduction interiors are available. Someone with scarf this up.

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  9. Jeff DeWitt

    As an FYI, Studebaker did NOT “often source their engines from their competitors”. The only Studebakers with non Studebaker engines were this 56 Golden Hawk and the 65 and 66 cars built in Canada after the South Bend engine line was closed. Further in 56 Packard was a part of Studebaker so they weren’t outsourcing engines then, the engines were made by Studebaker – Packard Corporation just as the car was

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    • Josh Staff

      I stand corrected! Thanks for the correction Jeff! I was thinking of the Avanti, but after doing more research I see that the ones that were actually produced by Studebaker were powered by their own 289 V8. The Avantis that were powered by Chevy and Ford engines were actually built by a different company, but I forgot all about that. Sorry and thanks for keeping me on top of my facts checking!

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      • Jeff DeWitt

        No problem, some people are into Fords, some into Chevys, I’m weird, I’m a Studebaker guy and have two of the things.

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  10. Mark E

    In ’56 Packard had the 352 and 374 V8 engine. I’m presuming Studebaker’s claim to the fastest car was with a supercharged version of one of these. A friend had several ’56 Packards and they were big, heavy and FAST cars. The engines were high compression and only lacked in mileage what they made up for in power. Can’t imagine how one would work in a lighter, faster car though…I heard if you got the 352 up to the 4,000 rpm redline it would swallow valves.

    On a final note, in 1973 the National Packard club convention was in Detroit and one day Ford graciously let us play on the old Packard test track which Ford owned at the time. The fastest car that day was a supercharged 1957 Packard Hawk.

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    • Mark E

      I googled and found what I recalled about Packard V8s was spot on. From Jack Vines:

      Packard had problems with the valve spring retainers being too soft. When the engine was revved to lifter pump-up speed, only about 4500 RPMs, the keepers would pull through the retainer and drop a valve. Hardened retainers were used in later engines. The OEM springs, especially after fifty years, do not have enough tension to allow the engine to reach max horsepower. None I have tested reached maximimum specified load. Most are way below minimum.

      On my performance builds, I use Johnson hydraulic lifters, hardened retainers and stiffer springs. These are good to more than 5,000 RPMs, even with the OEM camshaft, any time you want to have some fun and have the engine live to run another day.

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    • redavanti

      None were supercharged. That didn’t happen till 57. They used the Studebaker engine in these. The Packard Hawk was a 58.

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  11. Andrew Minney

    Buy it, restore it at your leisure and love it.
    If you don’t, I will!!
    Andrew in miserable England

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  12. vaughn

    In the 50’s I had the opportunity to ride in a supercharged version of the Hawk with a lady driver who knew her stuff. FAST.

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  13. bruce R. Colbert

    Great styling !

    That hood is a mile long eh ?

    Reminds me of that ’78 Ford wagon …………

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  14. CT

    Here is a link should you want to publish it to a TwoFer in CA! While not Golden Hawks, very viable projects!


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  15. Dave Wright

    One of my best friends in High School had a 1957 Golden Hawk we rode in a lot. His dad was a well known local race car driver and had bought it new in 57 just because it was the fastest thing on the road at the time. It had a 3 speed with an electric overdrive and maby a 2 speed Supercharger……..He would nail it at the bottom of one of the big hills we had in town, it was like a rocket ship, it would kick down out of overdrive, the blower would kick in twice (I think) and it would eventually up shift back into overdrive. It seems it would hit 3 or 4 times……an incredible ride. I prefer the look of the 57′ and the Stude engine…….but they are all fun. I also covet a 1955 Commander speedster with the dealer installed supercharger.

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  16. Tim Moore

    Sold :( that was a bargain. Nice car and would clean up well without much $
    I hope it found a good home. Like mine.

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  17. Charles

    It would be cool if we could follow the progress of the car with the new owner.

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  18. Tara P

    I bought a 1962 model back in the early eighties for £25.00, it had stood in a barn for 10 years and the brakes were siezed, we were struggling to get it home, we flagged down a passing milkman with an electric float, he pushed the car with his milk float for 3 miles until we got it home, sadly it never got back on the road as it was set on fire one night by intruders.

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  19. RickyM

    Nice find – someone got a good deal. Hope it gets restored well.

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  20. Tom A

    I am in process of re-building a 1956 Power Hawk. It has 53815 miles on it and the engine runs good with on oil leaks, but the automatic transmission works and currently leaks like a sieve. The care had at least 95% of the original parts and some things need replace or rebuilt.
    It had set in a garage two different times one for ten years. Then was puilled out and worked on. Driven for had less than 300 miles put on it when it went back to storage for another 16 years.
    The re-building of an old car is not for the faint of heart as it is hard work , takes lots of time and the cost on mine is estimated to be at $18,000 by the time it is done. Then add that to the purchase cost of $5,000 and you will see it is not a cheap project.
    Depending on engine and condition pf the rest of the mechanical $5000 is not bad.

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  21. Dave

    Anyone remember the purple tri-color Hawk? A neighbor had one when I was a kid. I was not alone in this conclusion: Ugliest gorgeous car I ever saw. Our first taste of awe.

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