Saturday, September 25, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Seeing an off-brand classic car on the street always brightens up my day, especially when it's something special like this. It's a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk, top of the Hawk line and pretty much the closest thing to a sports car to come out of South Bend, Indiana that year. This Golden Hawk packs a supercharged 289 cubic inch V8 producing 275 horsepower, no slouch by '50s standards, and darned quick in such a lightweight body.

Only 4356 Golden Hawks were built in '57, including 41 "400" luxury models with nicer interior and added features. This is not likely a 400, though it does appear to have a full leather interior. A 400 would have grille inserts painted to match the rear fin trim, something this car doesn't have. One thing that this car does have is Twin-Traction limited-slip differential, as represented by the TT badge on the trunk lid. That way you can hook up both rear wheels and get to 60 in 8 seconds instead of doing a "one-tire fire" and getting dusted by Ramblers.
This particular Golden Hawk is owned by a Studebaker collector in San Francisco, who I'm told has a bunch of vintage Studes, including the 1963 Lark I featured months ago. This one is often parked over at Fisherman's Wharf and is well-documented in photos on the internet. Iconic car designs in a public place tend to catch people's attention like that. The first time I saw it, though, was somewhere in the Mission, not the place I'd expect to find a rare Studebaker.
As an example of the breed it's pretty good. Condition is above average with shiny gold paint and white fin accents. Really, what other color than gold do you paint a Golden Hawk? Body is in good order with no visible rust or crash damage; all badging is there and in great shape. Even the stock flared exhaust tips are still there. The interior is in fantastic shape, and I'm always a sucker for a turned aluminum dash. I do take off points, however, for the replacement of the original wheels with American Racing Salt Flat Special (or Wheel Vintiques Lakester) wheels. They just don't suit the car very well in my opinion. I'm hopeful the factory rolling stock is still lying around his garage somewhere.
Just like Fifties Guy, the collector who's unknowingly contributed over a dozen vehicles for features here, I hope to get to know more of Stude Guy's cars. I've seen his green '56 Hawk, black '63 Wagonaire, and have seen pictures of a blue Lark coupe that I believe is his. I've also spotted a white Avanti driving around the vicinity of the Wharf. Perhaps someday you'll see more great Studebakers gracing this humble blog.

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