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View Full Version : Reasoning behind no hardtop Hawk in '59?



Johnnywiffer
09-10-2009, 08:37 AM
I understand that Studebaker wasn't even gonna make the Hawk after the introduction of the Lark. But why, if they finally DID decide to do it, was there no hardtop '59-'61 Hawk?

John

fstst56
09-10-2009, 08:49 AM
Just because.

Johnnywiffer
09-10-2009, 09:01 AM
Aah! Now I understand.

John

Skip Lackie
09-10-2009, 09:10 AM
Money. There's a fixed cost associated with producing each body style or model. On a per-unit basis, that cost becomes unaffordable if production numbers are low. The pillared Hawk was retained because the dealers felt it increased showroom traffic and helped sell Larks. But the more expensive Golden Hawk hardtops were relatively slow sellers, and the company decided it could afford one loss-leader, but not two. And the G Hawk had always been advertised as a high-performance car -- which did not fit in with Stude's plan to drop the 289, except in trucks.

Skip Lackie
Washington DC

56H-Y6
09-10-2009, 11:08 AM
Hi

The hardtop "K" body, on a unit cost basis, was more expensive to build. Since it had only been offered as a Golden Hawk to the domestic market, the reasoning lead to dropping it.

Given the percarious financial condition throughout '58, it's a wonder the Silver Hawk ended up in the product line-up. The dealers must have made a very strong case for keeping it going.

I wish the dealers had also insisted on the full size Y body sedan be included. As you've read in my comments at one time, the lack of a 120" wb President and/or Commander sedan just dismissed potential sales to loyal customers who couldn't use or didn't want a compact car.

Even a delayed introduction of such a model would have kept more full sized car customers in the fold. Think of it as Studebaker's equilivent to the AMC Ambassador.

Steve

showbizkid
09-10-2009, 12:26 PM
quote:Originally posted by 56H-Y6

Given the percarious financial condition throughout '58, it's a wonder the Silver Hawk ended up in the product line-up. The dealers must have made a very strong case for keeping it going.


Yep. Anyone who's familiar with the industry knows that the bulk of new car sales are the bread-and-butter 4-doors, but even though that's what most people will buy, they're brought into the showroom by the allure of the "halo" cars. They dream about owning a convertible 4-speed GTO... but then they come down to earth and buy the six-cylinder 4-door Tempest Custom :D


[img=left]http://members.cox.net/clarknovak/lark.gif[/img=left]

Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard
http://studeblogger.blogspot.com
www.studebakersandiego.com

studegary
09-10-2009, 01:19 PM
Out of a 1959 production of 138,866 there were only 7788 Hawks. 31% of those were flathead six cylinder Hawks.

Gary L.
Wappinger, NY

SDC member since 1968
Studebaker enthusiast much longer

Warren Webb
09-10-2009, 01:40 PM
Another thing to mention is the room for tooling. Just think of the stampings required & changing the presses to produce those additional panels. Studebaker wasnt known for simplifying anything- just look at all the different fasteners & clips used on a front end alone! Now, compound that to all the additional sheet metal needed, interior parts, trim, glass, ect & you'd soon see how the profit produced by the Lark in 59 would have a big impact from all these additional costs. Now if they had say have Hamilton produce one of those models & have the stamping done by an outside source, that may have been possible, but then you have the import taxes that were applied at that time & by then, any savings, if any would dry up & the end product would cost more. All this for what was already outdated.

60 Lark convertible
61 Champ
62 Daytona convertible
63 G.T. R-2,4 speed
63 Avanti (2)
66 Daytona Sport Sedan

buddymander
09-10-2009, 02:07 PM
Cuz the 58's were just too darn hard to top...

JGK 940
09-10-2009, 03:51 PM
quote:Originally posted by buddymander

Cuz the 58's were just too darn hard to top...


***GROWN***[:o)]

Keoni Dibelka / HiloFoto
In Hawai'i; on Hawai'i; on the Windward Side
If da salt air never chew 'em up bumbye da lava will...

Johnnywiffer
09-11-2009, 10:20 AM
quote:Originally posted by Warren Webb

Another thing to mention is the room for tooling. Just think of the stampings required & changing the presses to produce those additional panels. Well, OK. But didn't they already have the stamping machines set up for the hardtop Hawk from '58? I'da thot they'd just have kept on stampin' 'em out. But, as we all know, Studebaker didn't always do things the logical way.

And maybe they felt that the coupe had more structural rigidity than the HT. But if THAT was true, why'd they make the GT from '62 on and stop the coupe?

IS a puzzlement![:o)]

John

fstst56
09-11-2009, 12:06 PM
As far as going back to a hardtop for the '62 GT,
my guess is that it's because Sherwood Egbert was in
charge by then. With Studebaker being the distributor
for Mercedes I think Mr Egbert intended to take Studebaker
in a different direction. Thus the hardtop GT and the Avanti.
The GT had the classic styling, updated by Brooks Stevens and
more richly appointed than previous Hawks. (with more of a
European flair) So true, with the Avanti. Very European
and very richly appointed. Had Mr Egbert's health stayed
good it would have given him a little more time to pull it off.
I think it was the way to go for Studebaker. They weren't
selling to the masses so why not move upscale. If they could
have stayed connected with Mercedes I think it would've
worked. Remember, that was another place in time than when
it was tried it with Chrysler.

56H-Y6
09-11-2009, 12:33 PM
Hi

For '59, the decision to build the coupe only, in addition to the reasons already given, the number of coupes sold for each of the previous years versus the hardtops reveals it to be the better seller. For a nearly broke company to field a "halo" car to generate showroom traffic, they still had to be practical as to which model, should it sell, would generate the most volume.

On the issue of stamping capacity, I recall reading that Studebaker sourced stamping from the Edward G. Budd Company, while building their bodies in house. This wasn't unusual, other makers did the same thing. There was a stamping operation at South Bend as well. Even if it were fully committed to Lark work, stampings for Hawks could be sourced from Budd.

On the why of only a GT Hawk hardtop but no coupe: this decision likely was based upon recognition the GT Hawk would be competing directly for customers interested in Ford Thunderbirds, Pontiac Grand Prix and Oldsmobile Starfires, shortly the Buick's Riviera; all up-market hardtop models

The popularity of hardtop coupes, in general, was at an all time high then. A pillared coupe version would have been an extraneous model, likely have resulted in low sales volume. While the decision to keep the Hawk alive for '59 was thankful taken; by '61, with rising interest in the personal luxury coupes represented by the Hawk and Thunderbird, re-instituting the hardtop was just about mandatory. To understand this emerging market, consider the sales numbers for the four place Thunderbird: 1958: 37,892, climbing for 1959 to 67,456, then more than doubling the '58 total for 1960 at 92,798!

President Egbert was aware of and attuned to this market, gave Brooks Stevens the task of creating a restyled Hawk GT that could truly compete. To their everlasting credit, they succeeded, subsequent events notwithstanding. No restyled Hawk, regardless of how good, could overcome the loss of confidence that was the public's attitude toward Studebaker.

Of those last valiant efforts, the one I wish Egbert had ordered and had seen production for '62-'64 was a GT Hawk...... convertible!

Steve

Skip Lackie
09-12-2009, 08:07 AM
56H-Y6 is correct. Stude did much of its own stamping, but contracted with Budd for many of its bigger pieces. The contract would specify how many pieces would be provided for xx dollars apiece. Budd would set up its equipment and would do them all in one run. The Studebaker molds would then be removed and stored, and the equipment would be used to produce stampings for someone else. Producing more later in the year would require a new contract and additional set-up and tear-down time and expenses. Setting up the stamping equipment is a big deal, whether you own it or contract for stamping services with someone else. They certainly did not still have the stamping equipment set up from the 58 models.

The production of a loss-leader product that sells slowly but increases showroom traffic is always a gamble. It has to produce enough sales of other products to make its losses worth the investment.

Pillarless hardtops were first introduced in the early 1950s, and as noted, became very popular. By the early 60s, pillared coupes were considered to be cheap and unattractive cousins to the low-priced two-door sedan, and were often only available in the bottom-of-the-line series of a make (if at all). The restyling of the GT hawk for 1962 was truly one of the most successful facelifts in American automotive history. It looked modern and fresh, and did not look like it was based on the earlier 1953 K body.

One could debate whether Studebaker really should have tried to produce both the Avanti and the GT Hawk, since they both could be considered to be loss-leaders and also competed with each other to some extent. However, the Avanti was intended to be a true 4-place sports car, while the GT Hawk was a sporty, up-market hardtop designed to appeal to a man (and yes, its advertising was focused almost exclusively on men) who occasionally had to carry a few passengers. The pillar in the Avanti could be justified as being required by the roll bar.

Skip Lackie
Washington DC

sbca96
09-13-2009, 01:45 AM
quote:Originally posted by 56H-Y6
The hardtop "K" body, on a unit cost basis, was more expensive to build. Since it had only been offered as a Golden Hawk to the domestic market, the reasoning lead to dropping it.

I believe the Sky Hawk was also a hard top.

http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=8122

http://emperorjordan.com/sbca96/images/60Hawk/56Hawk_Garys/56Hawk_001a.jpg

Tom

'63 Avanti, zinc plated drilled & slotted 03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, soon: TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves, 'R3' 276 cam, Edelbrock AFB Carb, GM HEI distributor, 8.8mm plug wires