Car Stories

Studebaker Silver Hawk; an early Mustang?

studebaker1Earlier we gave you our pick for the Top 10 Collector Cars for 2010-2020 and that got me to thinking about some of the other cars that might be of interest to collectors but not on the top 10 list.

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.

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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  1. Oh how I remember that day. My Granddad went with me to look for a car. The local Studebaker dealer had some good ones in my price range. One was a 55 President Speedster w/a 289 (or so I thought) and the second one I liked was a 57 Golden Hawk coupe. Both with leather, similar miles (probably set back odometers.) Granddad thought the 57 was a better deal, but I liked the 55 besides, it had a tach!! The 55 was $350 and the 57 was $500. I was sooo in love, I never thought to ask if they would take less for either!! So I drove away with the ’55. Yeah, they laughed at me, too. But NO ONE could beat me on the highway! Drag racing on the street was big. My car was not. I got stopped once for an illegal left hand turn and the cop said I was lucky he didn’t catch me drag racing because he would have “thrown the book at me.” I was drag racing but the car was so slow off the line that he couldn’t tell!! Ha! I had the car for about 15 years. Gave it away for $500. Sad day…..I hope that car survived. Later, I found out it was one of five built as the predecessor to the Golden Hawk. It had a 352 V8. I still remember the smell of that car…..

  2. The McClure family lived up the hill from us back in the 60s-70s and that`s all they drove!had a couple i remember.But then they were plentiful since they were all built here in So. Bend.

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