(a.k.a. Red Car Day at Chez la Vache!)
1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk
Last week, «Louis» posted the first of four of his Designs for Packard, promising that the second design would appear this week, however, he felt that he needed to post this story about the 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk as a segue into his second design for Packard, done when he was 15 years old. He will post his second Packard design next Tuesday.
Previously, we looked at Robert Bourke's still-beautiful design for the 1953 Studebaker Starliner. We also got a look at the 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk HERE.
In 1961, the Studebaker board of directors brought Sherwood Harry Egbert on board with a mandate to close down the auto operations. With the successful launch of the compact Studebaker Lark in 1959, Studebaker - profitable for the first time in years - chose to go on a diversification spree instead of investing in its car business. They bought STP Oil Treatment, McCullogh Motors, Onan Electric, a company that makes garden hoses and even an airline, for heavens' sake!
Egbert, a 6' 4" dynamo, despite his orders from the board to shut the auto operation down, quickly became a "car guy" and made a heroic effort to save Studebaker's car business. One thing he needed was new cars. He needed them quickly and he needed to create them with almost no budget. Studebaker and two designers rose to the challenge. One designer was the legendary Raymond Loewy, whose team created the Studebaker Avanti. (Robert Bourke had been on Loewy's team when Bourke designed the '53 Studebaker Starliner.) Egbert also tapped designer Brooks Stevens to work on the overall line of Studebakers. It was Stevens who came up with the 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk.
Stevens knew he had no money to spend, but he also recognized that the 1953 Starliner body shell gave him an excellent starting point. Just as Richard Teague had made the 1951 John Rinehart design for Packard look like an entirely new car for 1955, Stevens managed to make the 1953 Starliner body shell look like a fresh design for 1962.
The resulting car was quite handsome and has aged very well. Like the '53 Starliner, the '62 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk looks good even today. The fresh design attracted new buyers: for the model year, Studebaker sold 9,335 GT Hawks compared to 3,929 1961 Studebaker Hawks. This compares with more than 78,000 Ford Thunderbirds sold for the 1962 model year. So while Stevens' fresh design for the Hawk more than doubled Hawk sales, it wasn't enough and Studebaker was very nearly at the end of its lifespan.
With this post about the 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk as a preface, next week, we'll see the design for Packard the then 15 year old «Louis'» produced.
See more Ruby Tuesday entries HERE.