THE SHOP

March '21

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10 THE SHOP MARCH 2021 THE STUDEBAKER STORY PART II All the while the Studebaker Hawk somehow survived, as there were still those who loved the clean, low and stylish lines of the car. From 1956 until '58 there were several versions of the Hawk, including a low-cost 1956 version called the Flight Hawk all the way up to the Golden Hawk, which was a supercharged model with 275 hp under the hood, thanks to a McCulloch centrifugal supercharger attached to the 289-ci Studebaker. For 1959, the only version of the car was the Silver Hawk and up through the 1961 model year, they were just called Hawks. Studebaker's dealer network wasn't any- where near as strong as the Big Three's, so what the company needed was a car that would sell itself. Harold Churchill came up with the idea of being the first to develop a new compact car. Set to debut for the 1959 model year, the small-sized Studebaker, which was to be called Lark, started with the removal of some 8 inches off the frame (forward of the cowl) and elimination of the front and rear overhangs, all while keeping the roof and general center components of the previous Champion. "Big on the inside, small on the outside" was how it was designed. New front fenders and a hood were needed, all much shorter than anything Studebaker had produced in recent times, and the rear was given new, shorter quarter panels and decklid. The windshield design went back to the mid- 1955 Ultra Vista wraparound model, the steering wheel was off of a 1957 model, the glovebox came from a '56 and the doors were standard 1958 models. The transmission was an off-the-shelf item and both the 6-cylinder and V-8 engines were based on previous designs. The vast majority of Studebaker dealers at the time were dual-franchise stores, also selling a brand of the Big Three, and at that time the Lark was the only compact-sized car that dealers could offer. Studebaker sold 131,075 Larks in 1959 and 182,323 total vehicles, which was good enough to pass over Cadillac for 10th position among domestic car producers. DIVERSIFICATION Profits from the Lark went toward diversi- fication—namely the acquisitions of other smaller, non-automotive companies so that Studebaker didn't have to rely solely on automobile sales to survive. One of the first things new company president Sherwood Egbert did shortly after coming onboard in early 1961 was to hire Brooks Stevens to give the Hawk a facelift for the 1962 model year. Stevens expertly removed the tacked-on fins and replaced them with a stylish new greenhouse and fresh rear quarter panels—now squared off and handsome. The decklid received a 10 THE SHOP MARCH 2021 Lund Motors was a Studebaker dealer located in Independence, Missouri. This image was captured during the 1956 model year. The pride and joy of any Studebaker en- thusiast in 1957 would have been a Golden Hawk! New for '57 were large concave rear fins and a Paxton supercharged 289-ci, 275- hp V-8. One of the rarest Studebakers ever pro- duced was the mid-year 1957 Golden Hawk 400. It's said that only 41 were ever built. These luxury versions had beautiful leather interiors, fully upholstered, plus special trim that included a stainless steel swath band that went over the top of the roof to the rear, located just ahead of the backlight. You can see one in person at the Studebaker museum in South Bend. In a futile effort to keep up with the Big Three, up-level 1958 Studes were given quad headlamps and grafted-on fins. The work was done by Duncan McRae, who wasn't particularly proud of the end product, thanks to a limited budget.

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