Desire for unique old car: 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Joseph Plumpe would not have his 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk were it not for his wife, Beth. He explains it was about 20 years ago — when visiting some of her relatives in the small community of Ada, Ohio — that he learned of an elderly lady who owned the Studebaker.

The car had not been driven for a while, but upon inspection it appeared to be all there and was relatively rust-free. Better yet: it was for sale.

They struck a deal and moved the car to a local restoration shop for a planned two-year restoration — which actually took three years. When the final result met his approval, Plumpe shipped the refurbished car back to his Fairfax Station home in Virginia.

When the 1962 Studebaker left the factory it wore a coat of Desert Tan with tan vinyl upholstery. By the time Plumpe acquired the car, it had been repainted silver.

The Gran Turismo Hawk has a striking appearance, with the grille showing signs of the Mercedes-Benz cars of that era and a roofline reminiscent of Ford’s Thunderbird.

The finished product is outstanding: “I didn’t want a foreign car, but I wanted a unique car,” Plumpe says. The Gran Turismo Hawk was the perfect car for him.

At 3,230 pounds, the car handles very well, thanks to the 210-horsepower V-8 engine capped with a single two-barrel carburetor; a three-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. Instrumentation on the dashboard is aircraft-inspired, with a speedometer ready to show speeds up to 120 mph, though, “I would get nervous at 85,” says the owner.

Since buying the sleek car, Plumpe has added power steering, a tachometer, and a clock. He says power brakes came with the car, as well as an AM radio.

Although the Studebaker is not equipped with air conditioning, it does have a two-speed “Climatizer” for the comfort of the occupants. Plumpe describes the “Climatizer” as a fan under the seat that circulates air upward around the front seats. Fresh air drawn in through the vents on the sides of the front fenders improves passenger comfort.

After the interior was reupholstered, Plumpe reports, “Everything now looks beautiful.” While repainting his Gran Turismo Hawk presented no serious problems, repainting the engine to the original colors was a challenge that consumed half a year. The task was made difficult, he says, because of the multiple colors involved, including orange, black, and yellow.

The 15-inch wheels are dressed up with a set of full wheel covers. Even though the car was ahead of its time in the minimal use of trim, what was used was polished and both bumpers were replated with chrome.

A total of 8,388 Gran Turismo Hawks were built in the 1962 model year, all of them streamlined hardtop coupes with a base price of $3,095.

Plumpe is not one to let his Studebaker sit idle: When he got the car it had been driven 79,000 miles. Currently the odometer has recorded 85,700 enjoyable miles.

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