As a teenage kid, I owned a 1955 Studebaker, President 2 door hardtop coupe back in the mid 60's. (it was a used car) Although it had the 259 cu. in. V-8, with 4 bbl. carb., auto trans, it would rip up the road like crazy. I took on many '55-'57 Chevy's with 283 V-8's, and spanked them good.
This car was a beast disguised with massive amounts of chrome and stainless steel trim, on a two toned blue exterior with an all white vinyl interior. It had stainless steel wire wheel covers as well. An expensive option at that time! After I made the final payment on it, a month later I was drag racing a 67 Ford Fairlane 500 GT, and lost control of it on a slippery road. I clipped a telephone pole at over a 100 mph, cracking it in half. The car kept on going, screaming in agony as it went down a ravine and finally stopped after taking down a big pine tree. I went through the windshield, landing on the hood. I spent weeks in the hospital. That Studebaker was dead...
My Dad at the same time, had a '59 Hawk with a gigantic Packard V-8 loaded into the engine bay (he bought it new). This thing had a Paxton supercharger on it too. It all fed though a manual transmission and a posi-rear end. That Hawk breathed free through a set of JC WHITNEY headers bolted to a pair of great rumbling dual exhausts. The space under the hood was so tight, that there was literally no room to squeeze your hands or fingers into it. And so, my dad had a shop make special cut-outs in the inner fender panels to access the spark plugs. This car could literally twist its speedo cable right in half.
It would also burn rubber in 4th gear.
This car was a 2 door hardtop coupe in all black, with black and white interior. It was a legend in its own day. I begged my father to please let me drive it.. The answer was always the same; NO!
My mother hated that Studebaker because it was way too radical for her. So my Dad bought her a 1960 Opel Rekord sedan. She was happy, I was not. WHY? Because I was allowed to drive that thing, but not the Hawk.
Finally in the late 60's, the Hawk blew its head gaskets. Dad sold it to a mechanic at a local garage. That guy repaired it, and promptly within days of the repair, totaled it out, killing himself along with the Hawk.
A family friend of my parents had a 57 Silver Hawk, 2 door coupe. He was a car nut and hot rodder. My dad said that he beefed up the V-8 engine in it so that he could race it at the drag-strip. One early morning hour on the way to work, he drove it straight as an arrow, without hitting his brakes, at full bore into a concrete abutment. The car exploded into flames and he was incinerated to unidentifiable remains. The cops think the car had a leaky exhaust system and that he basically passed out at the wheel. He left behind a wife and three kids.
Some final notes: My dads Studebaker Hawk came equipped from the factory with all the aforementioned options. The only thing my father did was to put on the headers. He also had it pinstriped. He bought mag wheels for it during the last years he had it. It seems odd that the only cars that received any press or made great exaggerated claims was the other big 3 automakers. Too many people scoffed and blew off Studebaker as an over priced and behind the times car. Yet the Golden Hawks, Hawk GT's and in the end, the Avanti, are some of the most prized collector cars on the market. Consider this too; Mercedes Benz shared dealer space with Studebaker by a mutual contract agreement. It was really something to go into a Studebaker showroom and see a M-B Gull-Wing coupe sitting next to a new Hawk.I don't believe M-B would have done this if they thought that Studebakers were crap. I'll never forget the day we all went to see the new Avanti. Dad loaded us into a White R-2 along with the salesman. I will never forget the sound that it made. Mom and Dad seriously talked about buying one for weeks. Finally they decided Dad should buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle to satisfy his need for speed. I was very disappointed with their decision.
We were a Studebaker family from 1951 to 1968.
From that time on, our family never had another Studebaker in the garage. Boy, do I miss those great cars.
Geez, the preceding comment was like reading a Henry Gregor Felsen book: guys hotrodding 1950's cars and then dying when they crash them.
Except, I don't think any of Felsen's characters ever drove Studebakers!
1962 Studebaker Gt Hawk.I acquired this car in 2001 and got it road worthy in 2003. The car is a 289, 4 bbl, 4 speed, dual exhaust, twin traction delite to drive. I have had over a half dozen cars from the early 60's and this is the only one that is a joy to drive. Bright red with a black interior it is quite the looker. Everywhere I go, people are always staring and asking questions. This year I am redoing the suspension and the clutch and pressure plate. I have installed a hidden, yet very effective 4 speaker Panasonic cd/radio. I can't wait for summer to cruise in some of the best style and class the early 60's had to offer. I love this car.
I believe you have a record here. Three deaths in on car survey. Truly the most dramatic review I have ever read.
You know, I once had a friend who was nuts about Studebakers. He owned two of them. One was a Champion and the other was a Lark. As I recall, they were always falling apart and had their hoods up. The doors never shut right. Shutting the door was like slamming two pieces of metal together that didn't match. There was minor damage every time, until one day, one of the doors just plain fell off. His cars were also plagued by transmission failures and carburetor problems.
I soon got over my thrill of adventure (seeing if we could repair the car along the highway if it broke down) and refused to ride with him after that.
The final chapter was when his "Champ" caught fire in front of my parents' house. He asked for something to throw on top of the engine to smother the flames. I ran and got one of my mom's throw rugs. He looked at the rug and said, "Gee, this looks like a pretty good rug..." Meantime, the car continued to burn in the background! I grabbed a heavy winter coat of mine, ran to the car and threw it over the carburetor. Then I quenched it out with the garden hose and nozzle. By this time, there was extensive damage to the car.
Afterward, he just looked sadly at the Studebaker for the longest time, saying, "She's been running a little rich lately." It took about a week for him to arrange to have the thing towed off (Most funerals are arranged in less time.) I mean, the poor guy was really grieving! Mom, who was the typical, sweet, 1950's & 60's homemaker, felt sorry for him and invited him to stay at our house until he had time to "put his life back together." Dad was less sympathetic and was doing a "slow burn" of his own, anxious to have it towed away.
So, in a strange sort of way, I can relate to those out there who have this "thing" for their beloved Studebakers.
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