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1963 Studebaker Grand Turismo Hawk on special display in the lobby of the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center during the Muscle

The Hawk Returns to Chicago After 55 years

John Gunnell has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles.

A bright red 1963 Studebaker Grand Turismo Hawk with a special satin black half top made a return trip to Chicago 55 years after it was first showcased at the Chicago Auto Show. The car that originally was showcased in the Studebaker booth this time was on special display in the lobby of the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center during the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in in Rosemont, Illinois.

Built from the beginning for special purposes, this car was factory fitted with the supercharged R2 Avanti V-8. In addition, the car was featured on the cover of the June 1963 issue of Motor Trend magazine, which carried a road test of this Studebaker and described it as a Super Hawk.

This Grand Turismo Hawk came with a four-speed manual transmission and disc brakes. Industrial designer Brooks Stevens, of Milwaukee, who did outside design work for Studebaker, created the GT Hawk concept. Amazingly, what seemed like an all-new car was actually a 1960s updated version of the famous Starlight Coupe designed by Raymond Loewy 10 years earlier.

In addition to giving the car a heavy, Mercedes-Benz-inspired facelift, Brooks Stevens installed the non-stock Dayton wire wheels and carried out the special roof treatment. Studebaker dealers began selling German-made Mercedes-Benz models in the late 1950s and continued in the early 1960s.

Studebaker, which started as a maker of carriages and covered wagons in the mid-1800s, was America’s oldest vehicle maker. Mercedes was the world’s oldest car maker. Stevens felt his design blended the best of both worlds.

According to the car’s owners, Steve and Sandy Doerschlag, of Eaton, Coloado, their show car is one of only 277 GT Hawks with the R2 engine ever made.

The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is set for Feb. 10-19 at McCormick Place in Chicago, following the annual Media Days on Feb. 9 and 9.