Jake Kaywell sent us a pic of his gorgeous 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo (GT) Hawk. He added a backstory to his love affair with classic automobiles.
When I first became a convert to the world of automobiles when I was all of seven years old, I never imagined that my automotive joy would be as old as the Cuban Missile Crisis and Dr. No, but weirder things have certainly happened. It was a long and twisting road to get there, so let’s navigate its furrowed paths together.
The one car that made an impact on my development more than any other was a fire-engine red 1966 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk. III that was driven rather vigorously by one Mr. Newman, a Londoneer by birth. To hear the raspy roar of that 3.0 liter straight-six engine backed up by a chunky four-speed was nothing short of glorious. He would take me on rides to hither and yon, with the goal being nothing more than the experience itself. It was a magical time, a wonderful time. I’ve never forgotten it or him and the impressions I had formed.
From that point forward, I fervently began saving all the pennies I could from various sources. Summer jobs, independent business ventures (such as selling Valentine’s Day cards when I was 11), and earning As on my report card in school. Using these methods, I managed to save up some $10,000 by the time I was sixteen, a solid amount to get a starter classic. With my father also enthusiastically supporting me, both in terms of knowledge and funds, it was time to hunt.
I would stay up all night most nights for a full year, often to the detriment of my sleep schedule, in order to educate myself about automobiles and their foibles via the Internet. Not only did I become aware of how to do things such as basic maintenance, I also became aware of the whole history of cars. From the popular domestic makes of the Big Three, to the seemingly otherworldly imports, this process was of much fascination and interest to me. However, while I toyed with both of these temptations, I somehow stumbled into the existence of the Independent camp. I’m quite glad of it.
The term “Independent” is a common moniker for those American companies that both survived World War II and were not affiliated with the Big Three in any capacity. Examples include Packard, Studebaker, Kaiser, Willys, Crosley, Nash, Hudson, and (later) AMC. I chose Studebaker out of all of these for its captivating history and refreshing style.
Studebaker was founded way back in the heady, “Go West Young Man” days of 1852. Through a combination of hard work and a promise to ‘Give a little more than you promise’ (the Studebaker family motto), it became the top wagon-maker in the US.
Presidents and kings, farmers and merchants alike used them, and by 1920 the Studebaker Corp was the only firm of its type to be fully committed to making passenger cars and trucks.
Through the ensuing decades, Studebaker dazzled the industry with avant-garde styling, thoughtful engineering and a reputation for build quality.
The orphan and weird marques are generally forgotten by most people and are passed over even though they contributed quite a lot. In the GT Hawk's case, it was a final bid of desperate creativity by what few car guys still existed at Studebaker in order to give some sort of life to the auto division. The bodyshell is the exact same as the iconic 1953 "Loewy coupe", right down to the door-sills. It looks and feels like a blend between European and American design philosophies, which I believe makes for a better car. It also feels dated even for its time period with its upright radiator grille and narrow proportions, but I certainly don’t mind. To me, that just makes it even more of a classic.
I have nicknamed her ‘Daisy-Mae’ because I think it suits her just as well as cookies do milk.
This particular Hawk is car number 3295 from a total of 9335 produced in 1962. Its designation of 62V-K6 indicates that it was a US-market car with the aging but still respected 289cu in V8, pushing out about 210 Civil War-era horses.
The Hawk was sold new in Sacramento, California, to a Ms Helen Potter, who ordered factory air-con, a Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission and the Twin Traction limited-slip differential, but not power steering or power brakes. Good heavens, Helen, what were you thinking?
Anyway, it took me many years to get her and I have no intentions of selling her. Driving her and telling her story is important not just for myself at my young age of only 20 years but also for everyone I meet so that they too can experience a lovely stop on a less-traveled path.
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