The 1956 Studebaker was a significant year for the automaker, as it marked the introduction of the Studebaker Hawk line, which would become one of the most iconic and sought-after American cars of the era. The Hawk was a groundbreaking design, with its sleek lines, European-inspired styling, and powerful V8 engine. It was marketed as a “family sports car,” and it quickly became a favorite among enthusiasts and celebrities alike.
Introduction to 1956 Studebaker
In addition to the Hawk, Studebaker also offered a full range of sedans and wagons in 1956. The sedans were available in three models: Champion, Commander, and President. The Champion was the base model, while the Commander and President were more upscale. The wagons were available in all three models, as well as a new four-door station wagon model.
All 1956 Studebakers were powered by either a six-cylinder or V8 engine. The six-cylinder was the standard engine, while the V8 was optional. The V8 was a 289 cubic inch engine that produced 210 horsepower. It was available in all models except the base Champion.
The 1956 Studebaker was a well-built and reliable car, but it was also relatively expensive. This, combined with the company’s financial struggles, led to lower sales than Studebaker had hoped for. However, the 1956 Studebaker is still remembered today as a stylish and innovative car.
Here are some of the key features of the 1956 Studebaker:
- Studebaker Hawk line introduced
- Sleek and European-inspired styling
- Powerful V8 engine
- Available in sedans, wagons, and coupes
- Well-built and reliable
The 1956 Studebaker is a significant car in American automotive history. It was one of the first American cars to embrace the European styling that was becoming popular at the time. It was also one of the first American cars to offer a powerful V8 engine as an option. The Studebaker Hawk line was particularly groundbreaking, and it remains one of the most iconic and sought-after American cars of the era.
History of the 1956 Studebaker
The 1956 Studebaker was a watershed year for the automaker, as it marked the introduction of the new Packard V8 engine and the first Studebaker automobile to feature tail fins. The flagship Golden Hawk model was powered by the 275-horsepower 352 cubic-inch V8 and was one of the fastest cars on the road that year. Other popular 1956 Studebaker models included the President, Commander, and Champion.
Studebaker had been struggling financially in the early 1950s, and in 1954 it merged with Packard, another struggling automaker. The new company was named Studebaker-Packard Corporation, and James J. Nance was appointed CEO. Nance was a turnaround specialist, and he quickly began to implement a plan to revive Studebaker-Packard.
One of Nance’s top priorities was to develop a new line of cars that would appeal to American buyers. He knew that Studebaker-Packard needed to compete with the Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), which were producing increasingly popular cars with tail fins and other futuristic styling cues.
Nance worked with designer Raymond Loewy to create a new line of Studebakers for 1956. The new cars featured a sleek, modern design with tail fins, wraparound windshields, and low-slung bodies. The Golden Hawk was the most stylish of the new Studebakers, with its distinctive fiberglass tail fins and wraparound rear window.
The new Studebakers were also powered by new engines. The Golden Hawk was powered by the Packard V8, while the other models were powered by Studebaker’s own V8 and six-cylinder engines. The new engines were more powerful and fuel-efficient than the previous engines, and they helped to make the new Studebakers more competitive with the Big Three cars.
The 1956 Studebakers were a critical and commercial success. The cars were praised for their stylish design, powerful engines, and good handling. The Golden Hawk was particularly popular, and it quickly became one of the most iconic cars of the 1950s.
However, Studebaker-Packard’s financial problems continued. The company lost money in 1956, and it was forced to merge with Curtiss-Wright Corporation in 1957. The new company was named Studebaker-Packard Corporation, and it continued to produce cars until 1966.
Despite its financial problems, Studebaker produced some of the most innovative and stylish cars of the 1950s. The 1956 Studebaker is a classic example of the company’s commitment to design and performance.
Design and Features of the 1956 Studebaker
The 1956 Studebaker was designed by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy. The exterior featured a sleek, aerodynamic look that was ahead of its time. Its distinctive “dove-wing” rear design and bullet-shaped front end made it stand out on the road. The car also had unique wraparound back windows and a large chrome grille with vertical tail lights.
Inside, the 1956 Studebaker boasted a spacious and luxurious interior. It featured comfortable bench seats, a stylish dashboard, and a push-button transmission control. The car also came equipped with power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning, making it a very desirable and modern choice for car buyers.
In terms of performance, the 1956 Studebaker did not disappoint. It was powered by a 352-cubic inch V8 engine that produced 275 horsepower, giving it an impressive top speed of 130 miles per hour. This made it one of the fastest cars of its time and a favorite among drag racers.
The exterior design of the 1956 Studebaker was truly one-of-a-kind. Its sleek and aerodynamic shape was a departure from the boxier designs of other cars during the 1950s. The car’s “dove-wing” rear design, inspired by the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter airplane, was particularly revolutionary and set it apart from its competitors.
The front end of the 1956 Studebaker was also unique, with its bullet-shaped grille and hood ornament. The car’s wraparound back windows were another distinctive feature that provided better visibility for drivers. Overall, the exterior design of the 1956 Studebaker was ahead of its time and continues to be admired by car enthusiasts today.
The interior of the 1956 Studebaker was just as impressive as its exterior. It featured a spacious cabin with comfortable bench seats that could comfortably fit six passengers. The dashboard had a modern and stylish design, and the car came equipped with a push-button transmission control, which was a new technology at the time.
One of the most notable features of the 1956 Studebaker was its power steering and power brakes. These features made driving the car a smooth and effortless experience, especially compared to other vehicles that lacked these advanced technologies. Additionally, air conditioning was available as an option, making this car a luxurious choice for its time.
Performance of the 1956 Studebaker
The 1956 Studebaker was a high-performance vehicle that was popular among car enthusiasts and racers. Its 352-cubic inch V8 engine produced 275 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, giving the car an impressive top speed of 130 miles per hour. This made it one of the fastest cars on the road during the 1950s.
In addition to its impressive speed, the 1956 Studebaker also had excellent handling and braking capabilities. Its power steering and power brakes made it easy to maneuver, and the car’s suspension system provided a smooth and comfortable ride. The 1956 Studebaker was a favorite among drag racers due to its powerful engine and lightweight body, making it a force to be reckoned with on the track.
The 1956 Studebaker was powered by a 352-cubic inch V8 engine that was known for its reliability and performance. This engine was an upgraded version of the previous year’s 289-cubic inch engine, and it featured a larger displacement and higher compression ratio, resulting in more power and improved acceleration.
The 352 engine was also equipped with a four-barrel carburetor, which at the time was a rare feature. This allowed the car to produce 275 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful engines available during the 1950s. Overall, the engine of the 1956 Studebaker was a significant factor in the car’s popularity and success.
Handling and Brakes
The 1956 Studebaker was praised for its exceptional handling and braking capabilities. It was equipped with front and rear coil springs, which provided a smooth and stable ride. The car also had a short turning radius, making it easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
The power steering and power brakes of the 1956 Studebaker were also highly praised. These features made driving the car effortless and required minimal effort from the driver. It was a significant advantage over other cars of its time, which lacked these modern technologies.
Notable Models of the 1956 Studebaker
The 1956 Studebaker was available in three models: Champion, Commander, and President. Each model had unique features and price points, making them suitable for different types of car buyers.
The Champion was the entry-level model and the most affordable option in the 1956 Studebaker lineup. It came equipped with a six-cylinder engine and had a more basic interior compared to the other models. However, it still featured many advanced technologies, such as power steering and power brakes, making it a great value for its price.
The Commander was the mid-range option and offered more power and luxury features than the Champion. It was powered by a V8 engine and had a more stylish interior and exterior design. The Commander was the most popular model of the 1956 Studebaker due to its balance of affordability and luxury.
The President was the high-end option and the most expensive model in the 1956 Studebaker series. It featured all the upgrades and luxury features available, including air conditioning. The President was marketed as a luxury car and was a favorite among wealthy car buyers.
Collectibility of the 1956 Studebaker
The 1956 Studebaker is highly coveted by car collectors and has become a collectible classic car. Its unique design, advanced features, and powerful performance have made it a desirable choice for those looking to add a piece of American automotive history to their collection.
The 1956 Studebaker is also significant in the history of the Studebaker Corporation. As one of the company’s last successful models, it represents the end of an era in American automobile manufacturing. This adds to its collectibility and makes it a must-have for car enthusiasts.
The value of a 1956 Studebaker varies depending on the model and its condition. On average, a well-maintained and restored 1956 Studebaker can be worth anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000. The President model, being the most luxurious and rarest, can fetch higher prices, sometimes reaching up to $50,000.
With its increasing collectibility, the value of the 1956 Studebaker is expected to continue to rise in the future. It is a wise investment for car collectors and can also provide a fun and enjoyable driving experience.
Despite being a popular choice among car buyers during the 1950s, the 1956 Studebaker is now considered a rare find. This is due to the fact that many of these cars were used as everyday vehicles and eventually ended up in junkyards or scrapped for parts. As a result, there are only a limited number of 1956 Studebakers left today, making it a valuable and sought-after classic car.
Maintenance and Repair for the 1956 Studebaker
Keeping a vintage car like the 1956 Studebaker in good condition requires a bit of maintenance and repair work. However, due to its simplicity and reliability, the 1956 Studebaker is relatively easy to maintain compared to other classic cars from the same era.
Regular maintenance such as oil changes, tune-ups, and fluid checks are essential to keep the 1956 Studebaker running smoothly. It is also crucial to replace any worn-out parts with high-quality aftermarket or original parts to ensure optimal performance.
The most common issue with the 1956 Studebaker is rust. Many of these cars have been exposed to harsh weather conditions over the years, causing rust to form on the body and undercarriage. It is important to check for rust regularly and address any issues immediately to prevent further damage.
Another common issue is with the electrical system, which can cause various problems such as faulty lights, gauges, or starter motors. Maintaining and replacing wiring and fuses when necessary can help avoid any electrical issues.
Restoration Tips for the 1956 Studebaker
Restoring a 1956 Studebaker can be a rewarding project for car enthusiasts. However, it requires a significant amount of time, effort, and resources. Here are some tips to help you get started on restoring your 1956 Studebaker.
Plan and Budget
Before beginning any restoration work, it is essential to have a clear plan and budget in place. This will help you stay organized and focused on your project and avoid overspending. Research the cost of parts and labor, and make sure to factor in any unexpected expenses.
One of the most challenging parts of restoring a vintage car is finding the right parts. It is crucial to source high-quality, original or aftermarket parts for your 1956 Studebaker to ensure its authenticity and optimal performance. Joining online forums or connecting with other Studebaker owners can also be helpful in finding the right resources.
Before starting your restoration, take inventory of all the parts and components of your 1956 Studebaker. This will help you identify any missing or damaged parts that need to be replaced. It is also a good idea to document the condition of each part and take photos to track your progress.
Famous Owners of the 1956 Studebaker
Over the years, many famous individuals have owned a 1956 Studebaker, adding to its allure and popularity. Some notable owners include movie stars such as James Dean, who famously drove a black 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk in the film “Rebel Without a Cause.” Actress Grace Kelly also owned a Studebaker, which she used as her personal car while filming “To Catch a Thief” in France.
Other famous owners of the 1956 Studebaker include musician Elvis Presley, who was gifted a pink and white President model by his manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1956. American author and poet Maya Angelou also owned a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk, which she purchased with her first royalty check.
Conclusion: Why the 1956 Studebaker is Still Relevant Today
The 1956 Studebaker holds a special place in American automotive history and continues to be relevant today. Its iconic design, advanced features, and powerful performance have made it a beloved classic car that is highly sought-after by car enthusiasts and collectors.
Despite being over 60 years old, the 1956 Studebaker remains a symbol of innovation and excellence in American automobile manufacturing. It paved the way for future generations of cars and left an enduring legacy that is still celebrated today. Whether you are a vintage car enthusiast or simply appreciate well-crafted automobiles, the 1956 Studebaker is a true gem that is worth admiring and preserving for generations to come.