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1956 STUDEBAKER GOLDEN HAWK OWNERS REGISTER

Thank you for your interest in the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners Register. I hope the following information will answer most of your questions.

The Short Version:
I started the Owners Register in January 1989
  for the purpose of helping other 1956 Golden Hawk owners and to try to identify the remaining 1956 Golden Hawks. I ask each owner to send the serial number (from the driver door jamb) and body number (from the firewall on the passenger side) for each 1956 Golden Hawk he/she owns. This is the only requirement for inclusion in the Register. I publish a periodic newsletter, called 56J ONLY every 4 months (Feb, June and November), with information and questions supplied by other owners and/or fans. The newsletter is free to registered owners. All the back issues are available for viewing on this web site. Registered owners with Internet access will receive a notice when a new newsletter is posted which allows them to view it at their convenience. Owners without Internet access will receive a printed B/W copy.

Often I receive letters from non owners requesting membership. There is no actual membership. What I have is simply a list of people who own at least one 1956 Golden Hawk..Since I am paying the cost of printing and postage for the newsletter, I have had to limit the printed distribution to OWNERS only. However, ALL the back issues of the newsletter are posted on the web site, so anyone with web access can view, download, and/or print them. Simply click on Newsletters on the header screen.

To help cover some my costs, I offer various manuals, Books, CDs, DVDs, decals, patches, and other items for sale a low prices. See  "56J Publications and Products" on the web site  for more information.Many of these items are available for free on this web site. Those items are listed on the Options page. I offer them for free because the purpose is to provide help and  information, not to dangle a carrot in front of the people we are trying to help. Owners accessing us via the Internet are not an expense, therefore we can offer some items for free this way.

I also receive letters from individuals who wish to buy a 1956 Golden Hawk. Most of our members are pretty happy with their cars but there are times someone will put one up for sale. Some times they do run across another car that is for sell and you might be able to get one this way. I will be happy to put an ad, at no charge to you, on the web site and in the Newsletter for you and maybe something will turn up. The newsletter is only done three times a year, so it could be up to four months before your ad appears, but anyone with Internet access can see your ad immediately.

If you are looking for a 1956 Golden Hawk, here are some things to watch for: the serial # on the driver's side door post MUST be either in the range of 6030001 - 6033472 (for cars produced in South Bend) or 6800001 - 6800601 (for cars assembled in Los Angeles). The body # (cowl, passenger side under the hood) MUST read 56J-K7 and have from 1 to 4 digits below in the range of 1 to 4073.

If you own a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk, please provide the information, and send it to me. I must have the serial number as a minimum. You can use the on-line registration form.

I hope I have been able to answer any questions you may have had about the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners Register. Please check the related items below for more information.
 

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The Long Version:

The seed for the Register were started when I read a letter in the Studebaker Drivers Club magazine, Turning Wheels. Don Girvan of Moncton New Brunswick asked about the color the valve covers. The answer did not match what was on my car, so I contacted Don. This started us on a quest to find upholstery material for the seats and door panels for our cars as they were the same color. While this was going on, I was trying to figure out why I had a lifter noise problem on a newly rebuilt engine. This was holding up the restoration since I didn't want to finish the car only to find I might have to pull the engine again. My problem was solved in 1987 when I met Bob Deitzler of Simi Valley CA at the SDC International Meet at Estes Park Colorado. Bob explained how there was an oil pump modification that would cure the problem. I had the modification done and after almost five years of frustration, I could finally drive the car more than 10 miles at a time.

In late 1988, I thought about these two instances and decided that I will likely encounter more problems for which someone else has already found the solution. Rather than reinvent the wheel each time, I thought it would be nice to have a network of owners who could correspond and help each other. So, in January 1989 I formed what would eventually become the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk owners Register. I put an ad in the SDC magazine asking owners to contact me with their information. I also wanted to identify and track the remaining cars so I made it a requirement to supply the car's serial number as a confirmation for joining the group. I didn't expect more than about 20-30 responses and figured I could afford to publish a periodic newsletter for a small group, at no charge. I was working at the time and printing costs were rather cheap at about 3 cents for a double sided sheet.

Well, the response ran reached 66 by the end of the year. Still, I wanted to keep this a free enterprise and resisted the suggestion of charging dues. Dues would add record keeping and renewals processing to my workload. Without dues,  I could quit if I decided the effort was not worth it. But, I offered to accept donations and many owners were very generous. You have to realize that in Studebaker circles, our cars are unique because they have a Packard V8 engine installed instead of a Studebaker V8. This made finding information and help a little harder. When most parts suppliers offered V8 engine parts, they usually added the phrase, "except 1956 GH, or except 56J". 56J was the model designator assigned by Studebaker for the 1956 Golden Hawk. That is how I came upon naming our newsletter, 56J Only. Owners were so happy to receive a newsletter dedicated to their particular model that they sent in donations to express their gratitude and hopefully keep the project funded. More importantly, they sent in articles about their experience. More owners registered with the number exceeding 90 by end of the second year.

1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Chassis and Body Parts
        CatalogAll this time I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a parts manual that dealt only with our particular year and model. I began this project in 1990 completing in it 1994. I went through each section of the body and chassis parts manuals which covered several years and models, selected only items for the "56J", and typed the nearly 370,000 characters making up over 70,000 words filling 350 pages. I formatted it just like the other Studebaker parts manuals including the list of indices, introduction, list of abbreviations, index of major groups and subgroups, alphabetical index, line drawings, every part # used on a 1956 Golden Hawk, utility items, accessory codes, and a numerical index. I offered this for sale in printed format initially, but have since transferred it to digital format with searchable text and put it, along with other items on both CD and DVD media.

1956 Golden Hawk Authenticity GuideOnce the Parts Catalog was completed, I began working on an Authenticity Guide designed to provide some form of identifying how the cars were equipped when they left the factory. It was also the objective to help owners wishing to restore their car to original specifications. Although I didn't think of it originally, the Guide has proven useful for prospective owners to help them make an intelligent purchase. In essence, it became a useful tool for restorers, sellers, and buyers alike. This project took only two years with the completion coming in 1996. Offered in printed format only initially, it is now also offered in digital format on CD and DVD media with searchable text making it very easy to locate specific items. This guide was updated in 2017 with about 200 photos added and the entire Guide is now in full color. The new version is loaded on our web site.

1956 Golden Hawk Manuals On CDI taught myself how to type when I was about 12 years old, and this ability has proven to be a blessing many times over. I spent my working career in the computer world, working on the old punched card equipment. This occasionally required me to use a key punch machine that punched the rectangular holes in the Hollerith cards, better known as IBM cards. Later, as a programmer, we made the switch from key punch cards to input through a keyboard, and this typing ability made the transition seamless. It's amusing, but I've gotten much more use out of my self taught typing skill than anything I learned in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Political Science. I once knew all the Presidents names in order, every State capital, and most of the elements in the periodic table. Lack of use of the information has left me with many holes to fill. However, I still know the location of each letter key on the keyboard. On the other hand, English and Math have been very useful so thanks to Mrs. Shier and Miss Neiman.

Things took a decided leap in exposure when I was able to put our Register on the World Wide Web. In 1999, my wife Anita gave me one of those How To books "For Dummies" as a birthday present. I like to think it was the How To and not the Dummies reference that inspired the gift, but we never discussed it. The authorís writing style and easy to follow procedures worked well for me and I had success on my first try. My typing skill and my computer background allowed me to successfully create a web site and suddenly, we had world wide exposure. This led to a spike in registrations. The donations helped me stay afloat for many years, despite keeping this a no dues operation, We are the PBS of Studebaker Registers, but without the periodic funds drive.

Shortly after getting us on the web, I started sending the newsletter via Email to those who had Email capability. This cut my cost and time expenditure considerably. We're still keeping our head above water financially. If only the Studebaker Corporation could have been as efficient! Once I got the web site working I put all the back issues of the newsletter on the site and posted all subsequent issues there as well. Now I simply send a notice to everyone whenever I post a new issue which they can read at their convenience. The printed copy mailing has dropped from roughly 270 to under 60 copies. The on-line version is far superior, in color and not damaged in transit. Hopefully everyone will received it that way some day.

With the web site fully functional, I decided the next logical step was a video. The Authenticity Guide needed some form of upgrade and the video version, called the Restorers Guide project began. Thanks to other 56J owners, we learned a lot since the Guide made its debut in 1996, so the video was the perfect solution for the presentation of this new information. I covered all the points discussed in the Authenticity Guide and slipped in a few new ones.

Of course, I didn't have a factory fresh 1956 Golden Hawk to use as my subject vehicle. I had to rely on my own two cars as the video stars, and there are several things that deviate from the factory version. The best advice I could offer is that if it isn't something I've discussed, don't assume what else you see is correct. The video took about a year to produce and was completed in 2009. The books and video are now uploaded to our web site so anyone can view them.

Mini Spin thumb
      driveWith technology in an ever changing state, many computers no longer feature a DVD/CD drive. I decided to put everything on a small and convenient thumb drive. This was done in 2015. The drive contains the complete Restorers Guide video plus the Parts Catalog, Authenticity, Production Orders, Newsletters, Owners Manual, Accessories Catalog, plus digital versions of the Studebaker Shop, Chassis, and Body manuals. The complete package is now on a drive that measures roughly 2"x1"x1/8".

We've also had a lot of help from owners and non owners alike. Often I'll receive reports of 56J sightings from Studebaker fans around the world. We've also had help with the reproduction of parts that were no longer available for many years. Studebaker International began reproducing the exhaust extensions and tail light housings for our cars several years ago. The Shrock brothers recast our steering wheels in a material far superior to the original while retaining the original aesthetics. Southeast Studebaker can provide complete interiors. Owner Brent Hagen  of Portland OR has manufactured several parts as well. For those owners less interested in authenticity, owner Jack Nordstrom of New Braunfels TX has fabricated an adapter to convert from the Ultramatic to a TH400 transmission and has a set of hardware brackets for adding air conditioning. Pertronix now offers and electronic ignition for our Autolite distributor.

In 2002, owner Scott Reid started a message forum for 56J owners and although it is not officially a part of our Register, it has been a blessing since its inception. It has turned this into a good friends community with owners and fans corresponding from all over the globe including Sweden, Mexico, Canada, India, South Africa, The UK, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Norway, Australia, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Through the years I've been referred to by many names such as The 1956 Golden Hawk Guru, but I always point out, there is no such person. Rather it is an entity, The 1956 Golden Hawk owners are the collective expert. Together, we probably know more about these cars than anyone or any group in the world and the message forum has become that knowledge data base.

When I started the Register in 1989, I set no goals for longevity or accomplishments. I would just let it drive itself and follow the road with no specific destination. However with the one step at a time process that took place, things have progressed far beyond anything I could have imagined. I like to think of us as (pardon the expression) the Cadillac of owners registers. Hopefully we can continue for many more years helping the 1956 Golden Hawk owner with advice, help, and information. For us, it's just 56J Only.

www.1956GoldenHawk.com

56J ONLY Message Group