Studebaker Golden Hawk Transmission Types

Greg Zyla
Q: Greg, in your article on the Studebaker Golden Hawk muscle car recently, you failed to mention a car that I had back in 1958, namely a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk straight-drive with factory overdrive.

This car had a 352 cubic inch Packard engine and it was absolutely amazing. It would run 110-mph in second gear overdrive! (I realize how foolish I was at 21 years old.)

I'm sure I didn't have the only one made. Thanks much, Bob Herndon, Liberty, NC.

A: Bob, first and foremost thanks for reading my columns in Auto Round-Up Magazine. I informed readers of the two Packard engines that powered the 1956 Golden Hawk, specifically the 352 cubic inch V8 producing 275 horsepower and a 374 incher developing 310 ponies with dual fours.

You are correct, however, that I failed to mention the "straight-drive" overdrive manual transmission. Specifically, two transmissions were available for the 1956 Studebaker Goldenhawk, including the manual Borg Warner T85 three-speed with overdrive or Packard's "Twin Ultramatic" automatic transmission.

The Ultramatic transmission came mated to a 3.07 rear gear, while owners of the manual overdrive had to deal with a “tire screeching” high performance 3.92 rear axle ratio made possible by the overdrive.

Additionally,  you might be surprised to find that of the 4,071 Golden Hawks built in 1956, only 786 came with the overdrive manual T85 transmission as the others were automatics. Thus, few actually owned what you drove back in 1958, making your 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk a rare collector car.

Overall, your Studebaker Golden Hawk was one of the very fastest cars of the year, thanks to its great power-to-weight ratio. The Golden Hawk could accelerate quicker than a Chevy Corvette and Ford Thunderbird and went from zero to 60 in less than seven seconds.

Studebaker didn't use the Packard engine in 1957, relying on a supercharged 289 inch V8 to arrive at the same 275 horses as the single four-barrel 352 Packard. For history buffs out there, Studebaker was purchased by Packard in 1954 and eventually utilized the stronger dealer network of Studebaker for future marketing. In 1958, the company also offered a Packard Golden Hawk, but by 1959, the Packard name was gone on all its cars. Then in 1962, Studebaker-Packard Corporation dropped the Packard name forever. The last Studebaker was produced on March 17, 1966.

In ending, I'd love to park a 1956 or 1957 Golden Hawk in my garage. Still, the one you owned in 1956 with the manual straight-drive overdrive transmission and that peppy 3.92 rear gear is perhaps the rarest of all along with the aforementioned 1958 Packard Golden Hawk of which just 588 were sold.
Thanks for the letter.
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