A sweet summertime creamsicle: 1956 Studebaker
Soon after Studebaker and Packard joined in an unlikely alliance in the mid-1950s, their effort to survive began. Talented designer Raymond Loewy did a lot with a little and for the 1956 model year created a masterpiece, the stylish two-door Golden Hawk.
“Even in my teens I wanted one,” Paul Delaney recalls, “however, the opportunity never presented itself.”
Half a century passed, yet the long-ago memory of that 1956 Golden Hawk lingered; unfortunately, since only a total of 4,071 models were built, Delaney knew the chances of finding one were almost nonexistent.
While thumbing through an antique car magazine in the summer of 2015, he was surprised to see a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk for sale. The seller was a long-time employee of Studebaker who lived in Michigan. He spent years collecting Studebaker parts, mostly for the rare 1956 Golden Hawk.
The two men discussed details about the car, and Delaney — a Studebaker/Packard Club member — asked a fellow club member in Michigan to inspect the car: his report gave the Golden Hawk a clean bill of health. The seller was the fourth owner of this 1956 Studebaker and Delaney was determined to become the fifth owner.
Delaney learned the Studebaker had recently undergone a complete frame-off restoration. Delaney sent a truck with an enclosed trailer to the backwoods of Michigan to collect his prize.
When it arrived at Delaney’s Alexandria, Va., home, the two-tone color scheme both inside and outside attracted considerable attention. Delaney says the two colors are officially Tangerine and Snowcap White. However, he defines the color of the car with a smile as being what children describe as “Creamsicle.” Even the colors of front bench seat match the exterior.
Delaney says that Golden Hawks like his were the only ones built with a relatively light 3,350-pound Studebaker body powered by a very healthy 352-cubic-inch Packard V-8 engine capped with a four-barrel Carter carburetor generating 275 horsepower.
According to a Speed Age magazine of that era, the car could accelerate from 0-to-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Despite the muscular engine, Delaney claims the 160-mph speedometer is overly optimistic even with its three-speed manual transmission with overdrive.
The 120.5-inch wheelbase provides a comfortable ride on 7.10×15-inch tires while maintaining a modicum of nimbleness with help from power steering.
When new, the sleek Studebaker coupe had a base price of $3,061 and was loaded with goodies such as the two-spoke steering wheel, wing vent windows in both doors, fender-top parking lights, and air vents at ankle level with intake openings on both front fenders.
When the Golden Hawk was being restored, no detail was overlooked, all the way down to the correct exhaust tip extensions used only on this model. It’s been a long time coming but the wait was worth the prize. “It’s a wonderfully unique car,” Delaney says.
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