The visually unique 1958 Packard Hawk was a one-year wonder

By: Bruce Kunz

September 10th, 2017

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Old Car Column

When my aunt Dorothy paged through the latest copy of Life Magazine,

her eyes caught the image of a strikingly-daring new Packard coupe called Hawk. She was struck by the slightly exaggerated illustrator’s rendering, which emphasized the long, low and wide look Americ

an car buyers were attracted to back in “the day.”

As I glanced at this image, from the full page ad in Life Magazine, circa 1958, one thing came to my mind. Plecostomus. That’s right — a fish (I think Kip Addotta missed this one).

Like many families, when our children were still kids, we had an aquarium. And one of the fishes that was a required aquarium resident, according to our salesperson at Beldt’s Aquarium, w

as the Hypostomus plecostomus. Everybody had one. It diligently spent every hour of its waking life slinking around the glass walls, removing the algae that had accumulated the day before, all the while ignoring the other fishes in the tank.

If the “shovel-nosed” Packard Hawk was a living, breathing entity, I could see how it would live its life in similar fashion. I mean look at that gaping mouth. It looks like it could suck the oil stains right off your garage floor. That low wide profile and those wonderful fins. And I’m sure, too, that, while its McCulloch-supercharged, 275-hp V-8 was propelling it down the newly completed U.S. Interstate system, it would probably be ignoring all the other cars on the road, because

few were as visually unique … some might say strikingly handsome.

Longtime friend Jim Trotter (who, by the way, bestowed the “Fin Man” nickname on me) once owned a Packard Hawk just like the one shown here, but trimmed out in “Canyon Copper” rather than the “Parchment White” of our illustrated feature car. The interiors of the Hawk and its cousin, the Studebaker Hawk, while luxurious, were at the same time all business … and that business was performance. No curved glass domed instrument clusters here. Basic, white-on-black, chrome bezeled Stewart-Warner gauges, set off by an engine-turned metal panel, monitored all bodily functions of this fish named Hawk.

New Packard Hawk buyers paid $3,995 for the privilege of ownership. Options, including power steering, brakes, windows and seat and more exciting stuff, could push the final price to near $5,000. A six-tube, manually-tuned AM radio was available for $60.50 and those who could afford to go another $19.40 could get a SEVEN-TUBE radio with push-button tuning. A pair of “safety belts” (front seat only) was offered for an additional $24.95.

Although Hawks under the Studebaker badge were produced from 1956 through 1964, the 1958 Packard version was a one-year wonder. It would also be the final year of the Packard marque, a once prestigious American automobile manufacturer founded in 1899.

Thanks for reading the Old Car Column and Keep on Cruisin’!


Bruce Kunz, a.k.a. “THE FIN MAN,” is a member of the Society of Automobile Historians. If you love old cars and care about kids, visit thefinman.com.