Even as a kid, Jim Knox was “a car guy.”
The Philipstown resident is especially drawn to cars from the 1950s, which he refers to as “pieces of rolling art.” But, he adds, “I like quirky cars, like Hudsons and DeSotos” — and the Studebaker Golden Hawk, which he purchased eight years ago for $18,000 to become its second owner.
“I was always intrigued by its sleek lines, the way it looked with its fins and big grill,” he said. “It’s maybe the ugliest beautiful car I’ve ever seen.”
Knox was determined to own a Golden Hawk; the car he found had been sitting in a garage in Seattle for 25 years and had 57,000 miles on the odometer. In 1956 it sold new for $3,000, or about $33,000 in today’s dollars.
Knox said the vehicle is “fantastic” on the highway. “I don’t push it too hard; it’s 67 years old,” he said. “But I’ve had it up to maybe 80 mph and it handled that well, not shaky at all.”
With its 352-cubic-inch Packard engine, it’s no surprise the car has some speed. In 1956, the Golden Hawk was the second-fastest production car on the road, behind the Chrysler 300.
“When you hit the accelerator, you feel a lot of power immediately,” Knox said, adding that the vehicle gets about 18 mpg. Its three-speed “ultramatic” transmission still works well.
Model: 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk (2-door hardtop)
Manufactured: South Bend, Indiana
Number built: 4,071 (1956)
Years built: 1956-58
Engine: 352 Packard V8
Weight: 3,380 pounds
Transmission: 3-speed ultramatic
Original price: $3,000
The Studebaker features a radio, leather seats and backup lights, but not the electric windows and seats that some models had. It was repainted in the original green-white-green tricolor scheme the Golden Hawk was known for. Its fins were fiberglass on the 1956 model and metal in 1957 and 1958.
Replacement parts can be difficult to find, but when Knox needed to replace the mesh-covered vent covers, he located a source in Minnesota. Knox is also a member of the Studebaker Golden Hawk Club.
Packard and Studebaker merged in 1956; the Packard brand was phased out in 1959 and Studebaker ceased production in 1963.
Mike, thanks for featuring my car. I had a great time speaking with you about it. The car also came with backup lights attached to the bumper. Backup lights were optional on the 1956 Golden Hawk.