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AnAvanti4Bob
09-05-2010, 04:27 AM
First post: Having helped my older brother restore his 1948 and 1955 Buicks and growing up in the Fifties, it became apparent to me early-on that I was a car-guy - which now includes my collection of die cast cars, automotive literature/brochures and volunteering at the Gilmore Car Museum Library near Kalamazoo, MI. As I “matured” (I am at the leading edge of the “Baby Boomers”) and realized that life is a very finite affair, I decided to draw up a list of cars that I would like to own “someday.” I then quickly came to the conclusion that someday was now and I was in the position of selecting, perhaps, my last collector car. The question occurred: what special car would I like to drive for the rest of my driving life?

The first criteria that drives me in selecting cars is design - so even if the car is having a “senior moment,” it can still look good just sitting! Then I noted that Studebakers kept appearing on my short list more than any other car marque. Added interest was supplied because I have been a long-time fan of orphan cars and have exhibited same by owning 6 Corvair Monzas over nearly 40 years. For 35 years a 28K original miles 1963 Spyder convertible has resided with me.

Also driving me toward Studebaker is their reliability, the availability of parts/service, (No one wants to work on a Corvair – go figure!) and the web and in-person friendliness of the SDC membership. In May of this year I drove from my home near Kalamazoo to the SDC meet in South Bend and found SDC members very outgoing and affable – free Turning Wheels at the show was a bonus – and more food for thought. One member from Wisconsin even let me sit in his recently restored 1963 turquoise Avanti R2 (my first time sitting in an Avanti) and talked patiently about the car even though it was getting late in the day. Since I have long known that the best (re)sources for a particular car are to be found through the members of the supporting club, I have been lurking on the SDC and AOAI sites for some time. This posting was prompted by a recent General forum posting where several members said that they were willing to help others join into Studebaker ownership.

Caveats: I must confess that I am not particularly mechanically adept, though I can do “basics” – like tune-ups, minor trouble shooting, etc. - but no heavy mechanical or body work! And after spending 5+ years restoring my Spyder, I decided that I am not willing to do that again! I enjoy the driving experience of older vehicles more that the thought of crawling underneath a car to fix “one more thing!” These preferences are guiding me to a car that is basically stock, complete, made to be driven (and has been driven regularly), mechanically fit, safety issues addressed (like brakes) and doesn’t need paint or bodywork (“20 footers” are not being considered).

The List, Reality and Preferences: I have been looking and researching daily for some time and have bid on several Avanti’s on eBay and called on a number of others. I am realistic about the pricing of a condition 2-3 (let’s say 2.5) - #1 being trailered concours) car and am willing to pay the price for a car that needs a minimum (like some interior work) to be fully enjoyable. I am focusing on these three models in particular and in order (with comments):

1. 1953-54 Commander Starliner: Even though I have a long-term Avanti lust, the 1953-54 Starliners are just an astoundingly fine design (but it seems that so many of them have been rodded and that supplies are low – rust never sleeps). I understand that there is a stronger frame on the 1954 – is that much of an issue for a collector car? I haven’t a clue how they feel when being driven except for subjective drive reports in period publications. I also have never dealt with a 6 volt system. (Any color)

2. 1963-64 Avanti (I love gauges and round headlights!): My initial preference and search was for a 1963 Avanti and I drove two (R1 and R2) of them in Michigan, but one was too much money and the other needed too much! I did enjoy the experience of driving the Avanti – they felt natural, but the heat emanating from the engine on both models was a downside. As the turbo Corvairs are a bit fussy, are the R2’s as easy to live with as the R1’s? I know the advantages of the Avanti II, but love the rake, design and “vintage-ness” of the original better. (Preferred colors: Turquoise, Red, Gold)

3. 1956 Sky Hawk (Bourke body and no fins): I have sat in an early Hawk coupe and driven a 1963 GT Hawk and very much liked the valley-view between the grille and fender from the driver’s seat. Brake pedal with MC under floor on 1963 was very weird, but in a good way. I have liked the Sky Hawk for a long time, but realize that they are very rare. (Any color)

So, I have gone astray, my disloyalty to Corvairs has finally come to light and I am asking for help, advice, comments and opinions on a Studebaker purchase. Thanks for your input, Bob Hawley

Chantony
09-05-2010, 06:00 AM
Hi Bob,
Any of these are great cars and quite collectible.The Avanti probably feels the most modern to drive if the driving experience means most to you.Dollar wise,the Sky Hawk would most likely be the bargain of the bunch.Really nice Starliners and Avantis are up to $25K,whereas a top Skyhawk can be as low as !2-15K.If you put Turner discs on the Skyhawk and it has power steering it can be a really good ride.
JDP has a saying which is true,that the cheapest Avanti you can buy will be the dearest Avanti you'll own.If you're not into vast efforts and restoring,then you should hunt up the best example you can afford of any of these cars.I'm partial to the 56's and the Sky Hawk has the good looks and advantage of having the Stude V8 vs. the heavy Packard V8,however I know of 56 G.H. owners who don't seem to notice the difference,especially if you're not going racing.
Most Studes,with the exception of the last high powered cars are in the category of pleasant cruisers,though any of them with a 259-289 with 4 barrel are no slouches in the go department.
Years ago i had a 62G.T. with 259 and 4 barrel that would fry tires with no problem if I wanted to.
Hope this helps a little.

BobPalma
09-05-2010, 06:07 AM
Welcome to "the board," Bob. We "Bobs" dominate the board by sheer numbers for reasons known only to our parents, so we always readily embrace yet another Bob!

Seriously, your dissertation appears well thought out, and your short list contains the to-be-expected 1953/1954 Starliner and 1963/1964 Avanti. The "to-be-expected" caveat hints at what might be a preferred pursuit; that of the 1956 Sky Hawk. They built 3,050 Sky Hawks for domestic consumption and they had as many rust issues as any other Studebaker, so the number extant isn't great, but they are still around. IIRC, a Sky Hawk was the highest-scoring Hawk, if not highest scoring of all Studebakers, at the 2009 SDC International Meet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Nonetheless, the market for Sky Hawks isn't as strong as is the market for your other two preferences, so buying a nice one for less thana small fortune might be easier than your other two preferernces. Sky Hawks have bulletproof mechanicals with 12-volt, negative-ground electrics, the excellent Studebaker 289 engine you can warm up easily, and even the good Flightomatic transmission if you choose/want an automatic. The 12-volt system makes the car more dependable as to electrics, and more easily-understood by anyone outside Studebakerdom who has to work on it. Further, a Sky Hawk wouldn't have as many quirks unique to itself as does an Avanti, again making it more readily repaired by someone competent and willing to attempt repairs, but not familiar with the make.

I'm not sure how far you are from Battle Creek, but Barry Holley of Holley Automotive in Battle Creek is an excellent general mechanic with Studebaker skills, experience, and enthusiasm.

BTW, you aren't at all far from Stanton MI, so why not join us in two weeks (Friday and/or Saturday, September 17/18) at The Mid-Michigan Motorplex, for the 2010 Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race? At least two R2 Avantis will be competing and you'll meet many enthusiastic Studebaker people in a multi-make car nut environment. Be sure to identify yourself if you come by.

Well, others on the forum will likely have good remarks as well. Again, welcome.

Bob Palma,
Technical Editor
Turning Wheels

DEEPNHOCK
09-05-2010, 06:20 AM
Wow... That's quite a list!

Most Stude types just go "Cool...How much?...I'll buy it!"

(Unless it's an Avanti guy, then every square inch is scrutinized:rolleyes::p)

clonelark
09-05-2010, 06:27 AM
Didn't find the Skyhawk i was looking for but found this, looks like a bargin.
http://centralil.ebayclassifieds.com/classic-cars/streator/1956-studebaker-power-hawk/?ad=3354010

BobPalma
09-05-2010, 06:37 AM
Agreed! Given the parameters, I would think that Power Hawk in Streator IL should be inspected and considered at that price. Worth every dime if it is "as advertised." Not too far away either. BP

Jim B PEI
09-05-2010, 08:16 AM
That Sky Hawk is a pretty car, nice interior, looks like a good body. Engine block is clean, just looks like it needs some detailing. Seems made for you, and you can put aside the 5K you don't pay for other stuff that might be necessary down the line.

sweetolbob
09-05-2010, 08:21 AM
Posted by AnAvanti4Bob
Caveats: I must confess that I am not particularly mechanically adept, though I can do “basics” – like tune-ups, minor trouble shooting, etc. - but no heavy mechanical or body work! And after spending 5+ years restoring my Spyder, I decided that I am not willing to do that again! I enjoy the driving experience of older vehicles more that the thought of crawling underneath a car to fix “one more thing!” These preferences are guiding me to a car that is basically stock, complete, made to be driven (and has been driven regularly), mechanically fit, safety issues addressed (like brakes) and doesn’t need paint or bodywork (“20 footers” are not being considered).

From one Bob To Another, Welcome.

I'm going to add one more vehicle as you have said that you are not inspired to do much in-depth work on the vehicle.

Avanti II or the later SBC powered sedans - All the upside of the Studebakers with the ability to drive into most any garage and get it fixed mechanically. Just read a lot of the posts on attempts of local mechanics to fix problems on an unfamiliar 50 year old make and see if that is what you want to deal with.

The SBC engine and transmission are common fare anywhere and you can find parts and mechanics a lot easier than Studebakers.

JMO

Bob

Bud
09-05-2010, 08:37 AM
I've owned two Sky Hawks over the years and I should have kept at least one as they are good looking cars with plenty of power. I own a 62 GT Hawk that is a little more refined than the Sky Hawk, but they are basically the same cars. I also own a 63 Avanti, while it's a great looking car with almost ageless styling, I believe that my Hawk is a nicer car to drive as the seats to me are more comfortable and it has a smoother ride and a bunch less electrical problems. Bud

stude53
09-05-2010, 09:18 AM
Hi, Bob
Welcome to the Forum from yet another Bob. I share your passion for Studes, and was lucky enough to find my modified 1953 Studebaker Starliner Hardtop several years ago in Tulsa, OK while on a business trip. Keep looking and you will find the one for you.

That 56 Power Hawk deserves a closer look. One tip I will give you is to not deliberate too long because its easy to lose out If you procrastinate. As others have said, there are folks you can call on to do the things that you can't do yourself. I recommend that you join SDC and get to know people in your local area chapter. These connections can pay big dividends.

Good luck on your search.
BTW, I found a website that allows you to scan the country for whatever Studes are available. Try

http://www.jaxed.com/cgi-bin/mash.cgi?cat=cp&itm=studebaker&loc=&fil=&ys=&ye=&ps=&pe=&pgs=100&submit=++++go++++

powerhawk
09-05-2010, 09:42 AM
I too am a looking for a Stude Hawk. My dad had a 56 Powerhawk. I am looking at a 63 GT hawk with 129k on the original drive train, a repaint, and some rust on the top of the rear fender and trunk as well as some on the left front fender just northeast of the vent door. pice doesn't seems out of line. Just wondering what it will take to put this car right. $$$$$ Sight unseen, I would rate this car as a mid to low #3 condition.


cheers

Gary

bezhawk
09-05-2010, 09:49 AM
I am going to have to say that any post 58 car is going to drive a litle better and post 61 even better yet.
They (Studebaker) changed the spring rates and symetry on the rear springs in 58 and the king pins in 61.
Therefor I would say ,(and it has been my experience), that a GT Hawk drives the nicest of the Hawks.
I drive an Avanti every day....it is my only means of transportation right now. They are definately"sporty" but are alot of people don't like the stiff springing they have. I must admitt you feel every imperfection in the roadway.
Hawks have the engine 10" further back from the centerline of the front wheels for a more balanced feel.
The 120.5" wheelbase also makes for a pretty smooth ride.
Get one with disc brakes or do a conversion and they can be just as nice as any newer car to drive.
I put many thousands of miles in our 58 Packard Hawk and crisscrossed the country with it many times. It was an excellent road car....very fast and comfortable.
I have had many Larks too and I loved my 63 Daytona ht.
A 66 Cruiser had the most luxurious interior, and the serviceability of a chevy drivetrain.....The downside, .......it had a chevy drivetrain <g>

tbredehoft
09-05-2010, 10:13 AM
I'm not a Bob, but I'm going to comment anyway.

Unless you are insistent upon a "no B pillar" hardtop, I'd look into the Power Hawk, The C body really is stiffer than the K body, because of the weight it's a little more solid, substantial, and that in effect is the difference between the Sky Hawk and the Power hawk.

Milaca
09-05-2010, 10:56 AM
If you don't like finned Hawks, you can remove the fins! The fins are riveted onto the original 1953 fenders. Fill the rivet holes in, repaint that area and find some trim from a finless Studebaker to add to it.

jnfweber
09-05-2010, 11:16 AM
I love my Sky Hawk, although it only has 22,000+ miles on a factory short block, thus no mechanical problems. Long wheelbase gives a very nice ride and seats are more comfortable than Avanti. Easy to work on, like changing spark plugs, etc. Would look at that Power Hawk in Illinois and look for concealed rust. Power Hawk has a B pillar which makes it more solid than hardtop models. You could add both power steering and a compact after-market air conditioner, and I would consider an alternator to replace the generator on that car, plus a spin-on oil filter.

If I chose an Avanti, I would prefer an R-1 with air conditioning. Automatic transmission is best if you wish to drive in city traffic, although I don't kow why anyone would drive any of these cars in heavy traffic. Any of the cars you are considering are good choices. I am considering adding air conditioning to my Sky Hawk, which with new radial tires will be a very comfortable ride to Springfield next summer. Or I could just fix up the Cruiser, which already has air conditioning and power steering.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3489/3928561353_7308613248_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3501/3928561375_d0190be0ea_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3513/3929344782_426d89fd5d_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2620/3939051288_206475de93_m.jpg

studegary
09-05-2010, 03:03 PM
I'm not a Bob, but I'm going to comment anyway.

Unless you are insistent upon a "no B pillar" hardtop, I'd look into the Power Hawk, The C body really is stiffer than the K body, because of the weight it's a little more solid, substantial, and that in effect is the difference between the Sky Hawk and the Power hawk.

Another difference is that a Sky Hawk is a 289 V8 and a Power Hawk is a 259 V8.

oldguy
09-05-2010, 04:50 PM
No arguement with your thought process, or list of preferences. Just food for thought. The basic body on the 53/54 series is nearly unchanged thru the 64 GT Hawks. So, unless you have a real objection to the fins on the 57-61's (they are removable) or the square top on the GT's, you may want to expand your list a little, which makes it easier to find the exact condition/price you want. Also note, the frame is stronger on the 62-64 GTs.
For all the reasons noted above - 12v system, better handling, brakes, PS, AC etc. it seems you might be happiest with a GT. (This observation from an oddball who is basically building a 53 with 62 GT parts -frame, dash, interior, 12v, brakes, etc. So I can have the best of both worlds).
Good luck, hope you find exactly what you want. Bet you find it here.

AnAvanti4Bob
09-06-2010, 11:55 PM
I would not have thought that the Sky hawk would be the bargain of the group as I never see them for sale. Perhaps joining the the SDC will be it's own reward. Thanks for the great info - Bob

AnAvanti4Bob
09-06-2010, 11:58 PM
Thanks all for the warm welcome - you have provided me with much food for thought and some new ideas as well. I never thought of just removing the fins. The search continues...Bob

mausersmth
09-07-2010, 12:21 AM
My first car was a Power Hawk. The 259 V8 is almost as strong as the 289, and as others have said the body is stiffer on the coupe. My thought is look close at any Hawk in decent shape at a good price. The '57-'61 Hawks can be de-finned easy enough if you like, but it's your car and money.

A Power or Sky Hawk with power steering, auto and a Turner brake upgrade would be a great touring car! One day I'll start looking for one...

AnAvanti4Bob
09-07-2010, 01:34 AM
Thanks for info - I am now considering the "other Hawks" as you suggest and have added the GT Hawk to my list, as well: this is not getting any easier, but there seem to be a lot of nice models to choose! Bob

candbstudebakers
09-07-2010, 01:44 AM
Right now I have one of each and count them the cream of the crop Studebaker cars but not the most costly to buy, I do have a really nice rust free 1953 Starliner for sale right now but some call it a custom because the bumpers have been painted body color along with the tail lights, head light rims, and grille bars and surrounds, but it is rust free all the way and has a Studebaker 289 V-8 and 3 speed with over drive, I don't call it a custom because I have a 53 custom coupe, chopped top, GT hawk seats, and dash, R-3 clone engine and 4 speed with fancy wheels, also have a full package 64 R-2 Gt hawk, my Avanti is a 67 with the 300HP 327, what one do I like the best?? good question good luck looking and remember rust free is an issue to look fore...Bob