1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

The GT Hawk’s styling was a fairly radical facelift by designer Brooks Stevens of the older Hawk shape; Stevens went after a European-inspired, clean look for the car he codenamed the “Hawk Monaco” (his prototype even had Monegasque license plates!). The hood from the older Hawk was retained, but was given a more pronounced (imitation) radiator frame to more closely resemble the cars of Mercedes-Benz, which at the time were distributed by Studebaker. The grille inside the radiator frame was patterned after the Mercedes as well.

Despite the European influence, the Gran Turismo Hawk drew on American influences, too; the roofline was heavily inspired by the Ford Thunderbird, with thick C-pillars. A chrome edge running from front to rear highlighted the top of the bodywork in very similar fashion to that on the contemporary Lincoln Continental. The taillights were particularly fashioned after the Lincoln’s, and the trunk lid was given a faux brightwork “grille” overlay (to hide the grooves of the otherwise carryover 1956-61 lid) that resembled the Lincoln as well.

Stevens’s extensive yet inexpensive modifications to the body finally rid the car of the 1950s-style tailfins and bodyside trim of previous models. The rear window was nearly flat and recessed, reducing the cost of an ordinarily expensive piece of glass. Overall, the exterior look kept the smooth, aerodynamic style of previous Studebakers but moved up to date.

Stevens also cleaned up the interior with a modern instrument panel that could be ordered with a full complement of large, easy-to-read instruments within close range of the driver’s line of sight. The top of the instrument panel was also padded to serve as a crash pad. This dashboard would prove to be another Studebaker trendsetter; later Chrysler models in particular (such as the 1977-1989 Dodge Diplomat) would have instrument arrangements clearly inspired by the Hawk.

The GT featured bucket seats and a console in the front, befitting a grand-touring car, and all seats were upholstered in either cloth and vinyl or all-pleated vinyl.

Unfortunately, the pleated vinyl (which was the overwhelming preference of buyers) was of poor quality during the 1962 production run and deteriorated rapidly. The problem was solved with the change to US Royal Naugahyde vinyl in 1963, but with sales already faltering, the reputation of the shoddy 1962 upholstery didn’t help matters.

Because of Studebaker’s poor financial shape, the underpinnings of the car remained very similar to previous Hawks. For that matter, there wasn’t much difference, chassis-wise, between a 1962 Hawk and a 1953 Starliner/Starlight. This thriftiness has turned out to be a boon for owners of today, as Studebaker’s limited use of custom-engineered parts has translated into wide availability of replacement parts 50+ years after the firm’s demise.

For 1962, a Hawk buyer could choose from either two- or four-barrel carbureted versions of Studebaker’s 289-cubic-inch (4.7 L) V8 engine (210 or 225 horsepower) teamed with standard three-speed manual, overdrive, four-speed or Flight-O-Matic automatic transmission. The stock engine was low compression (8.5:1) which lowered its power output while providing two long-run benefits: longer engine life and ability to tolerate today’s alcohol-laden 87 octane fuel with no pinging.

Beginning with the 1963 model year, the “Jet Thrust” R-series V-8 engines designed for the Avanti could be ordered throughout the Studebaker line, with the naturally aspirated R1 delivering 240 bhp (180 kW), the supercharged R2 giving 289 bhp (216 kW) and the limited-production supercharged 304.5 in³ (5.0 L) R3 powerplant issuing forth a full 335 bhp (250 kW). Handling and braking improvements were made to match the high-performance engines, with front and rear anti-roll bars, rear radius rods, heavy-duty springs, and front disc brakes all available ala carte or in a “Super Hawk” package (introduced mid year) with an R1 or R2 engine. Avanti engines that were factory installed in Hawks (and Larks) had serial numbers beginning with “JT” (for R1) and “JTS” (for R2), rather than the “R” and “RS” prefixes used in Avantis.

At over 3,000 pounds, the GT Hawk was a bit heavier than GM and Ford cars of its class and era, and any of these engines made it a sound performer; the stock 289 isn’t a muscle engine by any definition, but it can get up to 18 mpg on the highway. The blown R-engines amplified the Hawk’s performance capabilities, making those cars far more collectable. Despite the fact that Studebaker’s V8 was a heavy engine for its size, the Hawk was, with the Super Hawk package, a car with surprisingly good handling for a contemporary American car. In restoring the suspension systems, it is essential to avoid using gas-filled shock absorbers. – Source: Wikipedia