Posted By RichC on January 2, 2016
Guess what arrived for my new “old” car? Yup … the historical plates after last weeks title transfer. The registration has finally been updated for my late father’s 1958 Packard Hawk (you’ll need to think Studebaker Hawk if you haven’t seen the last Packard badge car).
I’ve posted previously from a couple car shows with my dad … but now its my turn to carry on the family tradition.
The 1958 Packard Hawk was the sportiest of the four Packard-badged Studebakers produced in the final year of Packard production. The Packard plant in Detroit, Michigan had been leased to Curtiss-Wright (and would be soon sold to them), and Packard models in this dying-gasp year were all rebadged and retrimmed Studebaker products. The 1958 Packard Hawk was essentially a Studebaker Golden Hawk 400 with a fiberglass front end and a modified deck lid.
Instead of the Studebaker Hawk’s upright Mercedes-style grille, the Packard Hawk had a wide, low opening just above the front bumper and covering the whole width of the car. Above this, a smoothly sloping nose, and hood—reminiscent of the 1953 Studebakers, but with a bulge as on the Golden Hawk—accommodated the engine’s McCulloch supercharger that gave the Studebaker 289 in³ (4.7 L) V8 a total of 275 bhp (205 kW). At the rear, the sides of the fins were coated in metallized PET film, giving them a shiny metallic gold appearance. A fake spare-tire bulge adorned the 1953-style Studebaker deck lid. ‘PACKARD’ was spelled out in capitals across the nose, with a gold ‘Packard’ emblem in script—along with a Hawk badge—on the trunk lid and fins.
The interior was full leather, with full instrumentation in an engine-turned dash. As on early aircraft and custom boats, padded armrests were mounted outside the windows, a rare touch.
The styling was definitely controversial, often described as ‘vacuum-cleaner’ or ‘catfish’ by detractors. The styling has come to be appreciated more today than in its debut. Only 588 were sold, with Packard’s impending demise a likely contributing factor. Most were equipped with the Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission. Approximately 28 were produced with the B-W T85 3-speed w/overdrive manual transmission. Studebaker-Packard was the first manufacturer to popularize the limited-slip differential, which they termed Twin-Traction. Most Packard Hawks came with TT. It was certainly the fastest Packard ever sold, since it shared the majority of its components with Studebaker’s Golden Hawk. The price was $3995, about $700 higher than the Studebaker model, but with a more luxurious interior. Electric window-lifts and power seats were optional extras.
Its rarity and status as the best-regarded of the ‘Packardbaker’ final-year cars have made the Packard Hawk quite collectible. Values are roughly double those of the equivalent Studebaker, although they are still low by comparison with Corvettes and Thunderbirds. Because a Studebaker drivetrain was used, mechanical parts are more readily available, although body and trim parts are more difficult-to-impossible to find. While it is a unique car, current restoration costs almost always exceed the selling price.
Specifications at LINK
EDIT: Adding a “squawks” found in my dad’s notes.