Back in my college days I had no money but had a real love of cars. It was back when you could go to the local dealership and purchase a brand new muscle car. I loved the muscle cars but a new car was impossible at the time. I wasn’t much into hot rods or dragsters; what I wanted to do was go around corners real fast. In my price range that really didn’t provide much opportunity. In addition, I really cared about aesthetics and the look of the car. I knew every car on the road and I decided what I wanted was a late 50s or early 60s Studebaker Hawk.
Ok, I will wait for the laughter to die down before telling the rest of the story……..done laughing yet? If you were one of the people laughing it is because you never drove a Hawk. I owned a couple of these cars in college. The first was really not much more than a junkyard dog that just hadn’t found home yet. The second, pictured here, was a pretty darn good car.
I rebuilt a lot of it, completely redid the interior with custom seats, door panels and other unique stupid kid touches like a BIG chrome ball for the shifter knob on an automatic column shifter! I also had a custom paint job applied that cost me $75 bucks! I had a whopping $500 in that car and I could barely afford that. It had a Studebaker 289 V8 with automatic and AM radio and whitewall tires. White letters had not yet made the scene.
The Studebaker Hawk design was based on the earlier 1953 two door sport coupe and was way ahead of its time. It had a narrow streamlined body, long nose and relatively short rear deck. It had a V8 and the car sat low to the ground. It did have some big tail fins but other than that it was sort of an early Mustang in concept. The engine was respectable but the handling was its strong point. I always installed new Monroe shocks on my cars back in the day and that was as close to a tuned suspension as I could get.
Today when ever I go to a car show and see a Studebaker Hawk, an Avanti or even the 1953-1955 series two door versions I get very nostalgic and wish I still had mine. I sold mine for $300 enough for a down payment on a used 1962 Corvette that had seen better days. I was out of college and still struggling but a Corvette was a must have.
There are people who really love some of these lesser appreciated vehicles. There is usually a story or two that goes with them; I know there is with my Studebakers. I can remember more stories about good times in those cars than just about any other I have ever owned. They will never be in the Top Ten but one will always be in my memories if not in my garage.