Saving the Best for Last — the 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk

January 2, 2010/Steve Tackett


“I grew up in a Studebaker family,” Molly Culver says. In Reno, Wis., her father, brothers and uncle all drove Studebakers. “Back in those days,” she says, “being a girl, I didn’t get a car.”
Her brother, Milward, however, had a Studebaker Silver Hawk that she especially admired. In 2005, with her 62nd birthday fast approaching, Culver decided to fulfill a long-time wish and joined the ranks of Studebaker owners. She soon located a 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk for sale not far from her Madison, Wis., home.
Culver enlisted the aid and expertise of her brother and went to view the Studebaker. They were astonished when the garage door opened.
The two-tone blue Silver Hawk was exactly what Culver had desired and as an added bonus, it was, in her opinion, more attractive than the Silver Hawk that her brother had owned so many years before. Culver hesitated not one bit and purchased the Studebaker.
“I was afraid to drive it,” she admits. Thankfully, her brother was there to drive the car the 40 miles to her home on its 120.5-inch wheelbase.
She was pleased that her car was in relatively good condition. The 185.6-cubic-inch inline six-cylinder Studebaker engine delivered 101 horsepower and when new had a base price of $2,142, a total of $71 less than the same car equipped with a 289-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
The automatic transmission with a steering column-mounted shift lever functions just like new. In the dashboard Culver found an aftermarket whiz-bang modern radio. The good news, she learned, was inside the trunk. There she discovered the original AM-only radio which, when tested, still operated like new. That radio now resides in the dashboard.
The dark blue carpet had been replaced but the well-worn two-tone cloth/vinyl seat upholstery appeared to be original. With safety in mind, Culver has installed seat belts in both the front and rear seats. The rear seat also features a center armrest.
Culver also learned that the original owner had purchased the car in Fond du Lac, Wis. When she bought the car she became the fourth owner. Culver’s brother pressured her to replace the six-cylinder engine with a more powerful V-8 engine from a Golden Hawk. Culver resisted the urge to acquire more power.
When she purchased the racy-looking car the odometer had recorded only about 41,000 miles, which Culver believes to be accurate.
The air vents were not on the cowl but instead, in typical Studebaker style, were on the sides of the front fenders. “It does help ventilation,” Culver says, “especially with the small rear quarter windows popped open.”
White sidewall tires that were on the car when she purchased it are still in good condition and remain on the car.
By 2008 Culver determined that her then 51-year-old Silver Hawk was in need of some cosmetic freshening. Some patches of the car had been attacked by rust and both sides of her sleek car showed tracks of dings and small dents from the doors of other cars.
When all the cancerous metal parts had been replaced with healthy steel the Silver Hawk was resprayed with a Robin’s Egg Blue top and a darker blue below the beltline. The fins atop the rear fenders were also painted to match the color of the top part of the car.
Now that Culver’s 1957 Silver Hawk has been spruced up she is enjoying her car even more than she did initially. She has added only about 2,000 more miles in the time that she has been a Studebaker owner. During that time only regular maintenance has been necessary besides rebuilding the carburetor and starter.
“I like to enjoy it,” Culver says. “It’s definitely worth it.” — Vern Parker, Motor Matters

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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010