Rare 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Gets Satisfying First Wash After Decades in a Barn

1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find 10 photos
Photo: Jonathan W/YouTube
1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk barn find
One of America's first carmakers, Studebaker went into the history books in 1967 after an unsuccessful merger with Packard. But even though it hasn't been around for more than 50 years, the company is still remembered thanks to a long list of innovative automobiles.
The Avanti is perhaps the most celebrated. While short-lived and far from successful, the Avanti was America's fastest production car at the time of its introduction in 1962, thanks to a supercharged V8 engine. It also broke no fewer than 29 world speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

There's also the Champion, the company's best-selling nameplate, and the Super Lark, the first-ever compact muscle car. Or the Wagonaire, which featured a retractable sliding rear roof section that allowed the vehicle to carry items that would otherwise be too tall for a conventional wagon. Finally, I need to mention the Hawk series, which spawned some of the most beautiful coupes of the 1950s.

A spiritual successor to the limited-edition 1955 Speedster, the Hawk series debuted in 1956 and included four distinct models. There was the base Flight Hawk with a straight-six, the Power Hawk with an optional V8, and the Sky Hawk with the 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V8 as standard. The range was topped by the Golden Hawk, fitted with premium features and a larger V8 mill.

The first three versions were discontinued in 1957 when the Silver Hawk joined the Golden Hawk. Both models soldiered on into 1958 when Packard also made its own version of the Hawk. The Silver Hawk remained the sole offering for 1959, followed by the Hawk in 1960 and 1961, and the Gran Turismo Hawk from 1962 through 1964.

Come 2023, and the Golden Hawk is the most desirable iteration of the Hawk series. And the 1956 version stands out as a one-year gem. Not only because it had a few unique features but also because it's the only one that got a 352-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) Packard V8 engine. The latter was discontinued after Packard's Detroit factory was closed in 1956.

What's so special about the Packard-powered Golden Hawk? Well, the big-block V8 was rated at 275 horsepower and powered a relatively lightweight hardtop. The combo gave the Golden Hawk the second-highest power-to-weight ratio of any American production car. It was surpassed only by the Chrysler 300B, a NASCAR homologation special. The Studebaker was also quicker than the Ford Thunderbird and the Chevrolet Corvette down the quarter-mile.

The 1956 Golden Hawk is also relatively rare, with only 4,071 examples built. And with many of them crashed or abandoned over the years, all-original and unmolested examples are hard to come by. Especially those that are still fitted with their original Packard powerplants. And that's precisely why this barn-found 1956 Golden Hawk unearthed by YouTube's "Jonathan W" is a fantastic discovery.

Hidden in a barn "for a long time," which translates to decades based on how the car looks, this Golden Hawk is one of those rare units that hasn't been modified or involved in a crash. Sure, its two-tone paint has seen better days, but the shell is surprisingly solid as far as rust goes. More importantly, the interior is essentially complete, and the floors are still in one piece.

Not surprisingly, the 352-cubic-inch Packard V8 doesn't run, but it's not stuck either. And it sure looks like it could run as in the good ole days with a proper rebuild. Luckily, the guy who bought it is a Golden Hawk enthusiast, meaning this Packard-powered beauty will get a second chance at life. But until it hits the road again, hit the play button below to watch it get its first wash in decades.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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