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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1958 Packard Hawk

Jim Brennan February 7, 2014 Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage 17 Comments

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Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is. Today’s featured car is truly the last model of the once great Packard line of cars, but by this time they were nothing but retrimmed Studebakers. Let me introduce you to the 1958 Packard Hawk.

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The Packard Hawk is one of the oddest vehicles to ever see the light of day. Built by Studebaker/Packard Corporation, it was one of the last production cars to carry the Packard Name, not counting the endless number of pseudo Packard cars that seem to show up every decade. It was also the fastest production Packard ever built. The 1958 Packard Hawk was the sportiest of the four models produced during this time period, which included a 4-Door Sedan, a 2-Door Hardtop, as well as a Wagon. Packard, for the 1957 and 1958 model year, were all rebadged and retrimmed Studebaker products. The 1958 Packard Hawk was essentially Studebaker’s 1957 Golden Hawk with a fiberglass front end and a modified deck lid.

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Instead of the Studebaker Hawk’s upright Mercedes-style grille, the Packard Hawk had a wide, low opening just above the front bumper and stretching the width of the car. Above this, a smoothly sloping nose and hood, reminiscent of the 1953 Raymond Lowey Studebaker Starliner Coupe, but with a bulge similar to the Golden Hawk, to accommodated the engine’s McCulloch supercharger. This gave the Studebaker 289 CuIn (4.7 L) V8 a total of 275 bhp. At the rear, the sides of the fins were coated in a brilliant PET film, giving them a shiny metallic gold appearance. A fake spare-tire bulge, again fashioned from fiberglass, adorned the 1953-55 style Studebaker deck lid. ‘PACKARD’ was spelled out in capitals across the nose, with a gold ‘Packard’ emblem in script, along with a Hawk badge on the trunk lid and fins.

1958-Packard-Hawk-Sport-Coupe-1

The interior was trimmed in the finest leather, with full instrumentation in an engine-turned dash. As on early aircraft and custom boats, padded armrests were mounted outside the windows, which was a distinctive touch. The styling was definitely controversial and often described as a ‘vacuum-cleaner’ or a ‘catfish’ by detractors. Interestingly, the styling has come to be appreciated more today than during its debut.

Packard (2)

Most Packard Hawks were equipped with the Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission, but there were approximately 28 were produced with the B-W T85 3-speed w/overdrive manual transmission, and are extremity sought after today. Studebaker-Packard was the first manufacturer to popularize the limited-slip differential, which they termed Twin-Traction, and most Packard Hawks came equipped with this rear end. Basic price started at $3,995, about $700 higher than the Studebaker model. Even at this rarefied price level, electric window-lifts and power seats were optional extras.

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Distinctive Packard Hawk features rarely seen in Studebakers included the all-leather seating with matching interior trim made of Naugahyde, and the dashboards displayed full instrumentation including a Stewart Warner tachometer and a supercharger manifold pressure gauge. The speedometer showed a top speed of 160 mph, and it was published that this car could flat-out run faster top end than the American-made sports cars of the Big Three, including the Corvette and the Chrysler 300.

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Its rarity and status as the best of the ‘Packardbaker’ final-year cars have made the Packard Hawk quite collectible. The 1958 Packard Hawk was a last-gasp effort to save the once-proud automotive manufacturer from extinction. Only 588 Hawks rolled off the assembly line before the Packard name went defunct. For their time, Packard Hawks were nearly as expensive as top end Cadillacs and Lincolns, which contributed greatly to their limited marketability. It is estimated that about 200 have survived.

1958 Packard Hawk

Now for the question at hand. Should the Last Packard, which is arguably a trimmed up Studebaker, be considered an obscure muscle car, or is it just an oddity? As always, your comments are not only appreciated, they are encouraged.

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Do you think the 1958 Packard Hawk could ever be considered an Obscure Muscle Car worthy of inclusion into the Garage?

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Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

  • dukeisduke
  • OA5599

    <img src="http://strafejumpbogle.com/smoothie/sleestak.jpg"&gt;

    I always thought it looked more like a Sleestak than a catfish, but I accept it into the HOMCG.

    • dukeisduke

      Is that Sleestak holding an Orange Julius?

      • OA5599

        Smoothie, according to the site where I found the pic.

  • Packard was such a great company. Then that Hewlett fellow came along and ruined everything…
    Wait, What?

  • okierover

    Catfish. I've never seen a live Sleestak.
    I grew up watching the original Land of the Lost but I prefer this Holly to the other….
    <img src="http://photos.bravenet.com/272/478/925/3/E13000024C.jpg&quot; width = "600">

  • Apparently the Studebaker (and maybe a few Packards) versions enjoy a following wherever high speed (high enough for aerodynamics to matter) and vintage cars mix (Bonneville and La Carrera Panamericana)
    <img src="http://images.hemmings.com/wp-content/uploads//2013/10/LCP2013_07_1400-700×465.jpg"width=500&gt;

    • Aw, they've taken the bolt-on fins off!

      • Marto

        And they look better for it! Ha ha

  • skitter

    We already voted in the Hawk.
    This is just like the Daytona/Superbird version.

    • UDman

      That was for the Gran Turismo Hawk of 1962-64. I still have at least one more Studebaker to profile in this series, so stay tuned…

  • Where was the option for "Horribly disfigured Stude, but still a muscle car"?

  • Maymar

    I sort of like this more than the upright Studebaker grille, but much less than the '53. The 275hp makes up for it though.

  • Mike O'H.

    Well,

    Packard bought Studebaker and if they called it a Packard, and it was legally registered as a Packard, it doesn't make any difference who built it, it is what the manufacturer calls it and what it's registered as; so, yes, they were genuine Packards regardless of the fact saying that makes the heads of owners of pre-1956 Packards spin around like Linda Blair's had in the Excorcist.

    They had a wheelbase as long as a pickup truck and out-weighed the '58 Vette by about 300 lbs but could beat the '58 Vette in the quarter mile. Yeah, I'd say that in its brief existence it was as much a "muscle" car as anything else out there that came stock from the factory.

  • Rover1

    I like that. Padding on the outside of the window to rest your arm on. From back in the days when you could do that without dislocating your shoulder. Not a feature that looks like coming back, more's the pity.

  • RareBird58

    As a Packard Hawk owner I was informed by my wife that I must stay with the car when we go to shows. People flock around these cars and it's really cool to own something totally different.

  • RareBird

    Needed just one more pic! Shadowtone Red Metallic with a Jewel Beige roof