We purchased our 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk from the 2nd owner in October, 1983. The car, though neglected, appeared original except for a modified battery tray, seat covers installed over the original seats, and an under the dash dome light switch.
Under the hood, remnants of the original decals dressed the oil breather cap, oil bath, the wiper motor, and the oil filter case. Although they were worn, the colors and sizes along with some of the information were all discernible.
I saw an ad in Old Cars Weekly by Autosport Specialty of Knoxville, Tennessee offering dress up decals. I sent for their catalog and ordered all the decals I needed except the the one for the oil filter. I could not find this decal anywhere in the catalog.
I soon discovered that other vendors also offered decals and I kept looking for the correct oil filter decal. Everyone had oil filter decals, but none matched the one on our Golden Hawk. This particular decal was red with STUDEBAKER PACKARD CORP. written in gold or white letters across the top. The letters S-PC were also gold in color. The remaining wording and the border were all in black.
In March, 1985, I went to the Keystone National Swap Meet in York, Pa. Several vendors had decals but no one had the one I was looking for. One man suggested that since the 1956 Golden Hawk was powered by the Packard V-8, I might locate it from a Packard decal vendor.
I began looking under the Packard heading in the various publications for decal suppliers and found Dels Decals. I sent for his catalog but still could not find the decal. I was beginning to wonder if I had the right oil filter after all.
Later that year at the SDC National Meet in Springfield, Missouri I spoke to Autosport Specialty owner (and former SDC President) John Brichetto. He said that he once saw a 1956 Golden Hawk at a show with the oil filter decal as I had described. He had taken a picture of it but could not make out the lettering. He said if I could send him the information off the decal on our car, he could reproduce the decal.
I had the engine rebuilt in 1984 and during the rebuilding process, the mechanic painted not only the engine, but the generator and the oil filter housing. Thus the oil filter decal was no longer visible. I tried sanding the paint off the filter and was able to see the decal again but some of the lettering came off with the paint. I could make out most of the wording, but I did not want to guess at anything. I wanted it to be accurate.
I saw an ad in Turning Wheels by Paul Tarrantino of Buffalo, New York indicating he had three 1956 Golden hawk engines for sale. I wrote to Paul in August, 1985 asking about the oil filter decal. He said he would loan me the filter with the best decal and sent it to me. Unfortunately, I still could not make out all the wording to my satisfaction without guessing. Paul said I could mail the filter to John Brichetto as long as I eventually returned it to him. I sent pictures of both Paul's and my decal to John and told him I could send him the entire filter housing if he needed it.
In December 1985, I wrote to Turning Wheels Feature Editor Fred K. Fox. I know from his writing in "Turning Wheels" and other publications, that Fred has an extensive automotive library and also pays very close attention to detail. He offered some suggestions but was unable to supply any additional information.
I then wrote to three 1956 Golden Hawk owners I had met at various SDC National Meets sending a copy of the wording taken from the decal, and a SASE. I won't mention their names because, sad to say, I never heard from any of them.
Just when I was about to give up, I received a letter from John Brichetto in January, 1986 stating that someone named Dwight, had an oil filter with a good decal and that he would be able to reproduce it. Dwight stated in his letter to John that this decal was used on all 1955-56 Packards except the Caribbeans with the dual 4 bbl carburetor set-up but I'm not sure. It was likely used on the Clipper and Executive with the 352 engine.
Several months later on April 17, 1986, I received my complimentary decal from John and his thanks for my help. Although I did not actually supply him with the information he needed, I think my correspondence with him kept his interest alive until he was able to finish the project.
Any of you 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk owners who want an authentic reproduction oil filter decal, can order one from Autosport Specialty, P. O. Box 9553, Knoxville, Tn 37920, Tel. 615-573-2580. The stock number is 01-104 and the price (as of July, 1987) is $3.00 plus postage. (NOTE: John has retired, but major Studebaker vendors carry the decal.
I feel that I had a hand in preserving a bit of Studebaker history, such as it is, and I feel a great sense of pride when I lift the hood and see that great looking decal. Thanks to Fred K. Fox, Paul Tarrantino, Dwight Heinmuller, and a special thank you to John Brichetto for having both the interest and the facilities to bring my pet project to fruition.
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