Purists will say the 1958 Hawk isn’t truly a Packard. That may be so, but it’s certainly an interesting car.
In gearhead lore, the 1958 Packard Hawk was created almost by accident. Roy Hurley, the Curtiss-Wright CEO who was in charge at Studebaker-Packard in the final days of the Packard brand, asked chief designer Duncan McRae to create a customized vehicle for his personal use. As this single custom car was completed, somehow the decision was made to add it to Packard’s meager production lineup for 1958. As a result of this unusual provenance, the Packard Hawk is sometimes referred to by S-P enthusiasts as the Hurley Hawk. (For more on the final Studebaker-based Packards of 1957-58, see our feature, The Packardbakers.)
Hurley had recently traveled to Europe, where the Maserati 3500 Gran Turismo Allemano, a $10,000 exotic with bodywork by Carrozzeria Allemano, had caught his eye. So to please the boss, McRae borrowed two of its features, the low, wide grille opening and the aggressive hood scoop, and adapted them to the Studebaker Hawk K-body hardtop shell, as shown above. A fiberglass hood and bolt-on front fascia replaced the Studebaker Hawk’s neo-classical vertical grille theme, while a pair of plated dagmars were added to the familiar Stude front bumper.
At the rear, McRae discarded the Studebaker Hawk’s raised and squared-off deck lid and reverted to the the low, sloping panel used in Bob Bourke’s original 1953 Studebaker design. To this pressing he added a trendy faux spare tire—again, molded in fiberglass to save tooling cost. (The phony spare was earlier seen on several Chrysler idea cars and then adopted by Chrysler for the production Imperial.) Gold-tone inserts for the tail fins completed the look at the rear. While the presentation is interesting and distinctive, there’s no mistaking the Packard Hawk for anything but what it is: a Studebaker with some clever but modest redecorating.
The Packard Hawk’s dash was essentially the same as the Studebaker Golden Hawk, with an engine-turned panel and a generous complement of racy Stewart-Warner gauges. A column-mounted shift lever commands the only available transmission, a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic. And like all the badge-engineered Studebakers that wore a Packard badge in 1958, the .Hawk was powered by a 289 CID Studebaker V8, but here with a belt-driven McCulloch VS-57S supercharger, a package rated at 275 horsepower. Performance was quite decent, as magazine testers were able to obtain better than 122 mph.
Another feature that distinguished the Packard Hawk from its Studebaker siblings was the luxurious interior, finished entirely in premium leather. To create an aircraft-style ambience, as McRae recalled it, the upholstery wrapped over the doors, extending past the door glass, so part of the leather lived out in the weather, as shown above. The feature is definitely novel: We can’t think of another postwar production car that shares it. Doesn’t seem terribly practical.
From time to time, automotive writers have been known to observe that the Hawk failed to save Packard. In truth, that was never in the cards as the brand was essentially already dead. The 1958 Packard line was offered mainly to satisfy the few remaining dealer contracts, so the automaker would not be compelled to take back the remaining parts, tools, and inventory. A mere 2,622 Packards were produced in 1958, and 588 of them were Hawks.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.