(a.k.a. Red Car Day at Chez la Vache!)
1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk
One recent Ruby Tuesday post was about the still-beautiful 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner, which (as you have read) is in «Louis'» opinion, the most beautiful car ever built. More recently, «Louis» showed how the '53-'54 Starliner had evolved into the 1956 Studebaker Hawks. Skipping the '57-'58 Golden Hawks, today, we turn to the beautiful 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk.
Studebaker had rescued itself when the compact Lark was introduced in 1959, but the rescue was short-lived as GM, Ford and Chrysler introduced their own compact cars. Studebaker was soon back on the ropes. The Studebaker board brought a hard-charging Marine with the unlikely name of Sherwood Harry Egbert in to close out the car business. With the initial success of the Lark, the board, instead of putting money into the car business, went on an acquisition spree other companies, not necessarily related to the car business. "Conglomerates" being all the rage in the corporate world in those days, the Studebaker board bought Paxton Supercharger, Onan Electric, STP Oil Treatment and several other companies, and Egbert was hired to close out the car business. Egbert wasn't a "car guy" when he arrived at Studebaker, but quickly became one.
Against his orders from the board, he set about to save the car business. He hired famous industrial designer Brooks Stevens to re-style the Hawk and to develop new cars for the 1965 model year. Egbert also hired Raymond Loewy to design the Avanti, more about which in a future post.
Stevens, with no money to work with, pulled off a miracle in his re-style of the Hawk, which was still the 1953 Starliner underneath. He added a Thunderbird-style roof, removed the fins grafted on in 1956, made the grill more classic in appearance and came up with a design that still looks good today. The car gave Studebaker dealers a much needed boost in showroom traffic - but the clock ran out and events conspired against Egbert and Stevens to complete their plans for a complete make-over of the Studebaker line...