1963 Studebaker Hawk Gran Turismo - $29,900
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  • Overview & History
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Finding one of these with a 4-speed manual gearbox is a rare find, giving it the performance to match its attitude.

Studebaker was fighting an uphill battle for survival in the early 1960s. On the plus side, they were the licensed dealers for Mercedes-Benz automobiles as the Germans worked to build their presence in the US. They had shed Packard in 1959 (actually Packard bought Studebaker) as executives decided business in the 1960s would rely less on luxury and more on performance. And they were following Chevrolet’s lead and doing some wonderful things with fiberglass. As for negatives, well, it’s always the same story—there wasn’t much money and it was difficult to keep up with the Big Three. Fortunately, Studebaker was nothing if not creative, hiring noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens to give their lineup a facelift and keep things relevant on a budget. The Hawk, a brilliant design by Raymond Loewy, was now 10 years old but with a miniscule $300,000 budget, he gave it a fresh look, an aircraft-inspired interior, and a new name: Gran Turismo.

By the time this 1963 Studebaker Hawk Gran Turismo was built, the Avanti had drawn a new group of people into showrooms and management was optimistic. And why not? The GT was a great-looking car that was ideally poised to take on cars like the Ford Thunderbird and Buick Riviera. Stevens’ facelift allowed the Hawk to hold its own against the avant-garde Avanti and there’s no denying that this is a great-looking car. Thanks to a frame-on restoration perhaps 15 years ago, this burgundy hardtop looks sporting yet elegant, which was entirely the point. It hails from New York but doesn’t show any evidence of major rust or rot and the bodywork is impressively straight with very good panel fit. Studebakers were still well-built, sturdy cars, but there are no patch panels or reproduction parts so finding a clean one is always the best way to get quality results. There’s a great shine to the paint and enough chrome to make it look upscale without losing its sporty edge. And speaking of the chrome, it appears that most of it has been restored with excellent results: the grille is in fantastic shape, the strip of trim running along the tops of the fenders is straight and wave-free, and that intricate panel on the trunk is just beautiful—that must have cost a sizeable fortune all by itself. Is it perfect? No. But we think you’ll look for a long, long time to find a better one.

The interior of the Gran Turismo is a huge success and you can see the results of a lot of that $300,000 restyling budget. Bucket seats and a wrap-around instrument panel give it a sporting feel and the full array of gauges and toggle switches show the influence of aircraft design. Standard gauges were just the basics, with the tachometer and clock in the outboard positions being options—the cockpit would feel naked without them. And finding one of these with a 4-speed manual gearbox is a rare find, giving it the performance to match its attitude. The restoration addressed seat covers, carpets, door panels, headliner, and even the dash pad, all of which look great today. The gauges are all operational except the clock, and sadly the original AM radio isn’t working, either but I suspect you won’t miss it. The back seat is beautifully finished with its own fold-down armrest and the headliner with chrome bows looks suitably upscale. There’s also a good-sized trunk that includes a full-sized spare and jack assembly.

The 289 cubic inch V8 is the same R1 engine used in the Avanti and with a 4-barrel carburetor it makes a fairly robust 240 horsepower and more than 300 pounds of torque. Studebaker engineers designed the V8 in anticipation of skyrocketing compression ratios, and as a result it’s ridiculously over-built, including 25% more main bearing area than Cadillac or Oldsmobile, the crank is forged (not cast), and heavy-duty forged connecting rods. There are 18 (yes 18!) bolts holding each cylinder head in place, meaning that head gasket issues are totally non-existent. The cam uses forged shaft-mounted rocker arms that are easily adjusted, not cheap stamped pedestal rockers. Finally, the cam is gear-driven, so timing and stretched timing chains are a non-issue. It’s why the R2 supercharged Avantis were able to run so well with little more than tuning changes. This one is nicely tuned, starting easily without much drama. Once it’s off the choke, it idles nicely and pulls the big coupe around with genuine enthusiasm. The low-slung V8 sits deep in the engine bay and is dressed up with chrome valve covers and a matching air cleaner assembly on top of a modern Edelbrock 4-barrel carburetor. This car also has power brakes using a remote unit much like the Ford Thunderbird and despite the lack of power steering, effort is light and the car is quite easy to handle—you won’t miss it at all.

Underneath there’s a robust chassis that gives the Gran Turismo a solid feel on the road. It’s probably heavier than its unit-body competition but it pays off in favor of durability and a almost zero squeaks and rattles inside. Clutch action is light and the 4-speed manual transmission has well-chosen ratios to keep the engine in the sweet spot. It’s not a sports car, but it’s not a luxury car either and doesn’t mind hustling a bit with very impressive straight-line performance. Suspension is conventional, with independent A-arms up front and a live axle with leaf springs in back, and front disc brakes are a rather amazing find for 1963; even the Corvette was two years away from using them. New coil springs give it a correct stance, there are new shocks all around, and there’s a recent dual exhaust system that sounds just about right. 3.31 gears in back mean it’s a comfortable highway cruiser and the engine’s torque makes ultra-short gears completely unnecessary. The body doesn’t look like it has ever been off the frame, but the heavy-duty frame and boxed outer rockers are in excellent condition with factory spot welds visible throughout, so this Studebaker is not and has never been a rusty car. The gas tank has been restored and it sits on factory steel wheels with hubcaps and 215/75/15 whitewall radials for a period-appropriate look.

Documentation includes original owner’s manual and a factory service manual.

The term “muscle car” had not yet been defined, but perhaps the Hawk would wear that moniker well. A neat blend of high style, performance, and reliability from an unlikely source makes the Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk a standout anywhere it goes. Better yet, only 4,634 were built and Studebaker would cease automobile production in December 1963, closing the door on another chapter in history. This is surely one of the better late-production Gran Turismo Hawks available anywhere and with impressive performance, a 4-speed, disc brakes, and that ultra-stylish interior, it’s a lot more car than its competition would have you believe. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1963 Studebaker Hawk Gran Turismo
Price: $29,900
Stock Number: 117120
Mileage: 87,897
VIN: 63V33196
Engine: 289 cubic inch R1 V8
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 3.31
Wheelbase: 120.5 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 215/75/15 whitewall radials
Exterior Color: Burgundy
Interior Color: Black vinyl
Untitled Document

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