Based on the sleek Raymond Loewy-designed 1953 Studebaker Starliner hardtop coupe, the rakish 1956 Golden Hawk sported a tall, prominent egg-crate grille, a power hood bulge, a raised rear deck, and vertical fiberglass fins. Its 352 cubic-inch (5.8-liter) 275 horsepower Packard V8 made it one of the most powerful and fastest cars of its day. It is essentially an early ‘muscle’ car that preceded the first 1964 Pontiac GTO by eight model years.
For 1957, a 289 CID (4.7 L) McCulloch-supercharged Studebaker V8 (rated at the same 275 horsepower) replaced the Packard engine. A fiberglass overlay covered a hole in the hood, which was needed to clear the supercharger. The new chrome-trimmed concave metal fins swept out from the rear fenders. Fourteen-inch wheels replaced the 15-inch as standard, which made the car slightly lower for 1958 (15-inch wheels were optional). A round Hawk medallion was affixed to the grille and the available contrasting paint was applied to both roof and fins. A vacuum gauge was also added to the instrument panel.
Sadly, when its sales were badly hit by the late-1950s recession, the Golden Hawk was discontinued after just 878 1958s were built. Today fewer than 100 are known to survive. This example is one of only four 1958 Golden Hawks factory painted in midnight black with white-gold metallic accents on its roof and fins. With the original body, chassis, and engine, a total restoration was completed in 2014.