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The Cars That Should Have Been

If John Bridges owned Studebaker/Packard

How would you have built your favorite car if you could have designed it? That is the question that Nashville’s John Bridges has asked himself several times. Unlike you and me, he actually answered the question by not only redesigning his dream cars, he built them!

On a recent visit to his man cave the drawings, hand built to scale models and the real deals were proudly on display. These aren’t plastic mock-ups, they are drivers. Each one is driven at least once a month.

This concept for the front end of the Packard Hawk is arguably far more attractive and true to the Packard design history than the “catfish” front end the factory actually built.
This is what a factory built 1958 Packard Hawk looks like. the front end, in my eyes, is beyond ugly.

Mr. Bridges is a long time lover of the Studebaker and Packard brands of the early 1960’s. He believes that Studebaker, and later Packard when they joined up with Studebaker, could have survived if they had improved their automobile designs just a little. It is likely pretty naive of Bridges to believe an automobile manufacturer could be saved with minor design changes. Packard and Studebaker were both once upon a time very successful automobile brands but failed to measure up by the late 40’s and early 50’s.

This is a hand carved scale model of the full size car built by Mr. Bridges.
This is the full size car.

To demonstrate his point, Mr. Bridges took it upon himself to suggest how these two manufactures should have designed there cars of the period. He began his task with complete design sketches and followed that up with hand carved wooden scale models of his proposed designs. But still not satisfied with models he undertook the construction of several several full size versions of his dreams. I must admit, I wish Studebaker and Packard had built his version of their cars! The two seat Speedster is a natural progression of the 1953 couple and later Hawks.

His scale model, hand carved!

I have owned a couple of the late 50’s Hawks and loved both of them. If a Speedster were available I would have likely purchased one of those rather than the Corvette I bought.

Here is his prototype version.

If you are not familiar with the 1953-1955 Studebaker this car was built from, let me show you. First off, Studebaker never made this model as a convertible only two door sedan and two door hardtop.

See the walk around of this great concept!

The Packard concept car was built from a late 50’s version of the Studebaker Hawk. It features a modified front end as shown above as well as other design modifications.

Mr. Brides did some other cars and has a very unique “Man Cave” to display his treasures. We will be covering those in future articles. Check back regularly.

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Richard

I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in 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 our our www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com page) As long as it has four wheels on it 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. 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 with our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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2 Comments

  1. The Packard Hawk is not ugly at all if you compare it to other 1958 offerings, such as Buick and Oldsmobile. It has aged better than many, and when I drive mine I get many comments about what a great looking car it is.

  2. Actually the Packard Hawk has aged well, I think it’s a fine looking car for the period. Certainly better looking than a 1958 Buick or Oldsmobile.

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