Distinctive, bizarre, and very un-American, the ’58 Hawk was a pastiche of European styling cues. Inspired by the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes, it boasted tan pleated leather, white-on-black instruments, Jaguaresque fender vents, a turned metal dashboard, gulping hood air-scoop, and a broad fiberglass shovel-nostril that could have been lifted off a Maserati. And it was supercharged. But Packard’s attempt to distance itself from traditional Detroit iron failed.
At $4,000, the Hawk was overpriced, underrefined, and overdecorated. Packard had merged with Studebaker back in 1954, and although it was initially a successful alliance, problems with suppliers and another buyout in 1956 basically sealed the company’s fate. Only 588 Hawks were built, with the very last Packard rolling off the South Bend, Indiana, line on July 13, 1958.
Today the Hawk stands as a quaint curiosity, a last-ditch attempt to preserve the Packard pedigree. It remains one of the most fiercely desired of the final Packards.
Even for the ’50s, most buyers found the Hawk’s frontal aspect a little too much, preferring instead the more traditional Detroit “million dollar chromium grin.” The Hawk’s styling was just plain ugly. And that’s why it didn’t sell.
Flight-O-Matic automatic transmission and a hefty, supercharged 289cid V8 came as standard. The Hawk’s blower was a belt-driven McCulloch supercharger.
Despite its European airs, no American car could escape the vogue for fins, and this car has two beauties. Nobody was too sure about the spare wheel impression on the trunk, though.
Uniquely, the Hawk had exterior vinyl armrests running along the side windows and a refreshing lack of chrome gaudiness on the flanks. The roof line and halo roof band are aeronautical, and the belt line is tense.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Packard Hawk (1958)
PRODUCTION 588 (1958)
BODY STYLE Two-door, four-seater coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and chassis.
ENGINE 289cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 275 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed Flight-Omatic automatic, optional overdrive.
SUSPENSION Front: independent coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 125 mph (201 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8 sec
A.F.C. 15 mpg (5.3 km/l)