After Chevrolet
I owned a beautiful 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk from 1983 till 2015.
(my first restoration experience)
By Frank Ambrogio
This is the what I saw when I first got to see the car. I was led to believe there was a 1956 Golden Hawk buried in there somewhere.
      We purchased our 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk (serial # 6032195, body # 2591, engine # S-2920) from the second owner on October 8, 1983. Documents received from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, and a copy of the original production order from Newman & Altman provided quite a bit of interesting information about the first Studebaker we have ever owned.

      Our car was shipped via Truckaway McDowall to Orlando, Florida on February 15, 1956. The Mocha/Doeskin (paint code P5637) two tone beauty was delivered to Beltz-Beatty Inc., the Studebaker dealer located at 234 Central Avenue in downtown Orlando. I tried to locate the dealership in 1984, but when I got to the general area where the correct street number should have been, I was sitting under Interstate 4. I guess the dealership gave up its existence so that future travelers could sit in traffic jams waiting to get to Walt Disney World. Today, that portion of I-4 is one of the busiest roadways in central Florida.

This is how things looked after about 2 hours of cleaning
 out Tom's garage.
      The car came equipped with automatic transmission, power steering, white wall tires, push button radio with internally controlled antenna, full wheel disks, cigar lighter, electric clock, back-up lamps, climatizer, directional signals, and windshield washers.

      Apparently no one was interested in the car until Russell M. Sperau of St. Cloud, Florida purchased the Hawk a year and a half later on September 17, 1957. Russell sold the car to Village Motors, 2203 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando on May 8, 1961. It was then purchased by Tom McNutt of Orlando on May 25, 1961.

After about 6 hours, the 1956 Golden Hawk gets out in the
daylight for the first time in 15 years. Believe it or not, we got
the engine started in about 10 minutes.
       Tom drove the car sparingly until 1968 at which time he parked it in his garage. It sat there for the next 15 years while Tom piled other accumulated storage items around, on top of, and under it. We purchased the car from Tom on October 8, 1983, one year to the day after first talking with Tom and agreeing to make the purchase. Tom realized that after 15 years, he probably would never get around to restoring the car.

      The car was virtually buried in Tom's garage and when we initially went to see the car, we could get no closer than about two feet. If you could have seen that sight, you would understand Tom's reluctance to pull the car out and finalize the sale.

The next morning, the car is in full view. The home owners association should be sending me a nasty letter any moment.
       I persevered and finally on that momentous day, he answered my phone call with the question, "guess what I'm doing." He had been working on getting the Hawk out of the garage for about four hours by the time I arrived. After four more hours, we were ready to tow it out with his 1953 Dodge Pickup.

      That took another 45 minutes as we had to gently squeeze it past the spare Packard engine/transmission assembly which was protruding into the passenger side rear wheel well. Then, after he had moved the full size diesel bus out of the way, we had to maneuver around a couple of non running Corvairs, past all the assorted boxes stacked along side.

This is me standing next to the car. That looks like a smile on
my face, but I'm really wondering what I've gotten myself into.
      I have to admit I had second thoughts when Tom told me to get in and steer while he pulled the car from the rear with the Dodge. The 15 years of sitting, with the driver's side window half way down, left the interior as dirty as the exterior. I wasn't sure what kind of reception I was going to receive from the then current inhabitants.

      The Florida Chamber of Commerce propaganda will show miles of beaches, rows of palm trees, while it raves about the sunshine. It fails to mention all the little critters that resent our intrusion into their domain. As a transplanted Detroiter, I have never quite adjusted to the sudden appearance of these little jewels of nature. Happily, nothing 
assaulted me during this phase of the adventure and we were able to get the car outside.

After the engine, transmission, suspension, exhaust, and tons
of other things, we finally get down to painting.
       That previously mentioned sunshine was not present on this early autumn evening. Instead, the car's first venture outside in 15 years was greeted by overcast skies and a slight mist in the air. So much for the Chamber of Commerce. Tom then did a little tinkering and, using an auxiliary gas tank and a battery from his lawn mower, actually got the car started in about 10 minutes. I'm still not sure if that tingling feeling I had was from pure joy or if some little critters actually did invade my hide.

      The car was towed home in the dark of night. The next morning I began to doubt my sanity as I looked out the window at this $2000 hulk of weathered metal and rubber. Restoration began shortly afterwards and was completed in 1989 with the addition of chrome valve covers, front seat belts, and a rear seat speaker. This was accomplished at a cost exceeding 10 times the original investment and the question of my sanity is no longer in doubt. Now, I simply refer to the entire restoration process as diarrhea of the wallet.

The six week project only took four months. This shot shows
the fins removed and all the body work finished.
       Around 1985, I began corresponding with Don Girvan of Moncton, New Brunswick. His car was identical to ours and we exchanged information through the mail for several years. We discovered that finding Light Rose Mist and Dark Rose Mist interior material was just as futile in Canada as it was in America. Aside from making a new friend, this correspondence with Don spawned a new idea.
March 1988, it only took 4-1/2 years, but it was worth it!
     One day I thought, wouldn't be nice to be able to correspond with many 1956 Golden Hawk owners who may have solved some of the same problems I had encountered? I placed an ad in the January 1989 Issue of Turning Wheels asking owners to get in touch with me. That was the beginning of the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners Register. Membership grew and by late 1995, our total approached 200 members and we had accounted for nearly 300 cars. I maintain a roster of members and vehicles and produce a newsletter every 4 months.
I liked the car so well, that one year before I finished the first one,
I decided to buy another one. 

Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?

      This Golden Hawk is featured on the cover of the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Parts Catalog, a four year effort which I completed in March 1994. The 320 page catalog contains all the parts used on the 1956 Golden Hawk, along with sections for accessories, service bulletins, and utility items. The format is similar to the Studebaker chassis and body parts catalogs which are currently available from many vendors.

      Ten years after purchasing the car, I brought it back to Tom's house to show him the results. He was thrilled that I was able put it back in such good condition. Everyone seems to like the car and the color cover of The Catalog is a fitting place for THE CAR THAT LAUNCHED A CLUB.


      After purchasing my 1956 Golden Hawk, I wrote to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and was able to obtain a complete history of the car. The various States each have their own policy of maintaining and providing motor vehicle records. Some only keep the records available for a given period, such as 20 years.
      If anyone desires copies of their car's records, some things should be remembered. Providing a history of your car involves searching through records on various storage media and probably will not be all that enjoyable to the civil servant performing the task.
      When you write, get right to the point. Give the serial number and any other information you think might be helpful such as the title number. You might even send a copy of your current registration.
      Be sure to include a check for some nominal amount. I would send at least $10.00. This puts the burden on them to respond to your request and you can take it from there. I received 12 sheets of paper for $12.00 and the information, along with a copy of the original production order from Newman & Altman, proved to be very interesting.

 BS (Before Studebaker)  I owned a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

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