Editor’s note: David Krumboltz’s regular column is on hiatus until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its place, we’re running some of Dave’s favorite past columns. This one originally ran in September 2013.
By 1962, Studebaker Corp., the oldest vehicle manufacturer in the United States, was in serious financial trouble, but there was still a chance. In February 1961, the company hired 40-year-old Sherwood Egbert as its president. He would become the Lee Iacocca of Studebaker.
One of the first things he did was to call on noted designer Brook Stevens to rejuvenate the Hawk. Since the car was really a face-lifted 1953 Starliner coupe, it was dated. Time and money were short, but Stevens accepted the challenge. The Gran Turismo Hawk went from idea to production in a matter of months, a task that usually takes several years.
Rarely if ever has an updated, modernized model like the Gran Turismo Hawk won the praise of critics. The name itself suggested a combination of European and American style. The squared-off roof had a 1958 Thunderbird look, and the grille was influenced by Studebaker’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz, its U.S. distributor. Even the circled chrome “S” nose ornament had a Mercedes look.
No wonder the Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk is a popular model for Studebaker fans and collectors. Bob and Carol McMains, of Pleasant Hill, love Studebakers. Even the license frame on their newish Chevrolet brags “My Other Car Is A Studebaker.” For Bob, it started about 40 years ago, when he was visiting Paso Robles and met someone who had a 1935 Studebaker for sale. He bought it for $300, and it’s in his garage today.
“Carol’s family was steeped in Studebakers,” Bob said. “Her uncle and grandfather worked for Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana, and most of the extended family members owned and drove Studebakers.”
Several years ago, the couple agreed to “get ourselves a car that can run with the big dogs and travel.” They found the car on Craigslist in Prunedale.
“The paint was peeling, and there was some serious rust in the trunk, but the body was fit,” Bob said. “The seats and headliner were good.”
The McMains bought the 1962 Hawk for $5,000 and sent it to a body shop in Castroville. It was refinished and painted Bordeaux red with a white top.
“The goal,” Bob said, “is to keep it as stock as possible but make the sacrifices you have to to keep it running.”
This is a local car show vehicle, not a serious show car competitor. The 289 cubic-inch V-8 engine mated with a Borg-Warner automatic transmission is stock, but the grille has some model year mixes, and the trunk deck has been slightly modified from the factory specifications. In June 2013, the McMains wanted to travel to Kansas for a family reunion in their Studebaker. Bob installed air conditioning for the hot weather trip. Near the end of the month, Bob and Carol headed east from Pleasant Hill, excited about their adventure.
“Twenty miles from Winnemucca, the generator went out,” Bob …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment
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