1956-1961 Studebaker Hawk

By: the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

The 1957 Studebaker Hawk

The 1957 Golden Hawk was a much-improved car with its new supercharged V-8.
The 1957 Golden Hawk was a much-improved carwith its new supercharged V-8.

Although the Studebaker Hawk didn't quite hit 20,000 sales for 1956, it was one of the more successful products from a company that was sliding ever closer to extinction. Falling sales, inept management, and a growing cash crisis are the reasons the Hawk line was trimmed to just two models for 1957: a revised Golden Hawk and a new pillared Silver Hawk, replacing the three lower 1956 offerings.

New chief stylist Duncan McRae added larger concave fins made of metal, eliminated the old sculptured contour line on the body-sides, and modified taillamp assemblies. The Silver Hawk sported a simulated air scoop on the hood and full-length chrome side moldings. Changes specific to the Golden Hawk included a fiberglass hood overlay that concealed a hole pre-cut to provide clearance for the new supercharger.


Substituting a blown version of the 289 for the heavy Packard V-8 made a world of difference in the 1957 Golden Hawk, mainly because it took 100 ponderous pounds off the front end. At the same time, engineers exchanged the Packard automatic for the more reliable Borg-Warner unit that Studebaker marketed as Flightomatic.

Though the 1957 Golden Hawk had the same amount of raw horsepower as the 1956, it was down on low-end pull because of fewer cubic inches and lower compression. The supercharger was a variable-ratio centrifugal unit by McCulloch, driven from the crankshaft.

This like-new 1957 shows the handsome lines of an almost forgotten performance machine from the Fifties.
This like-new 1957 shows the handsome lines of analmost forgotten performance machinefrom the Fifties.

In normal driving the blower just loafed along, producing only 1-2 psi pressure in the intake manifold. Pressing the "go" pedal triggered a solenoid that widened the supercharger pulley, causing a spring-loaded idler arm and pulley to pull the belt to the base of the widened supercharger pulley V. This greatly speeded up the impeller -- to about 30,000 rpm -- thus producing up to about 5 psi manifold pressure, though you could start to feel it build from as little as 2,300 engine rpm. The compressed mixture was forced through a Stromberg two-barrel carburetor totally enclosed in a balanced-pressure chamber.

All Hawks acquired finned brake drums for 1957, and Twin Traction limited-slip differential, first released on the 1956 Packard, was optional with any V-8. The Silver Hawk was powered by the old reliable L-head six as standard, with normally aspirated 210- and 225-horsepower versions of the 289 available at extra cost.

As you might expect, the 1957 Golden Hawk had much improved handling compared to the 1956, though even the lighter Studebaker engine was heavier than it should have been for its size. Test reports were far more favorable, and it seemed motor noters were finally coming clean with their true opinions of the 1956.

Behind that bold radiator grille is a powerhouse of an engine that was capable of eating 1957 Chevys for lunch.
Behind that bold radiator grille is a powerhouseof an engine that was capable of eating 1957Chevys for lunch.

A late arrival for 1957 was "the ultra-smart" Golden Hawk 400, appearing in time for the spring selling season. Studebaker's finest car that year, it is unquestionably the rarest model of this generation. Priced nearly $500 above the standard Golden Hawk, the 400 featured hand-buffed top-grain leather upholstery in white or tan. If the car was two-toned -- and most were -- the air intake ports flanking the grille were painted to match the contrasting color on the fins' concave surfaces. Although exact production has yet to be established even now, it is thought only 200-300 of these cars were completed.

Continue to the next page to read about 1958-1960 Studebaker Hawks.

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