Take a ride in a Golden Hawk.
One of the Studebakers that people remember most is the Hawk, specifically the Golden Hawk. Goldens were produced only for 3 short years, as 1956-57-58 models, yet they made such an impression that when you say "Studebaker", that's what comes to most folks' minds.
Sure, all Golden Hawks are special; they were the ultimate offerings of performance and luxury from Studebaker. Based on the seminal hardtop coupe body created by Bob Bourke for the 1953 model year, they were classy, stylish, sporty and fast. But the 1956 models were extra special: for that year only, you could have a Hawk with the big-cube Packard 352-cubic-inch V8 - a rocket ship if there ever was one. And although there was a full nest of Hawks in that inaugural year - Golden, Sky, Power and Flight - the Golden was the only recipient of that big Packard engine. And only about 4,000 were built, in Studebaker's South Bend and Los Angeles plants, making the Golden a rara avis indeed.
Frank Ambrogio has been in love with "56J" models (shorthand for the factory model code that designates these birds) for a long time. In fact, he began the Golden Hawk Register, to track known survivors - running or not - in 1989. His site also features technical information, manuals and authenticity guides, and personal stories, including the tale of how Frank found his first Golden (he owns two) under a pile of garage dung in 1983.
As these cars have become both rarer and better known, some folks have tried to fake them. So Frank has put together a series of YouTube videos showing what to look for when scouting for a potential purchase; very useful -- you can find them by searching YouTube for username 56shgor. What's excited me, though, is Frank's recent posting of a ride-along video in his manual-transmissioned 56J. It's a great ride, and you really get the feeling of the power and grace these cars posessed. Frank's a pretty funny narrator, too :) Take a look:
If you're interested in finding out more about these wonderful cars, check out the Golden Hawk Registry pages at www.1956goldenhawk.com.