FAIRly BREATHIN’: Chelsea relic

by Kevin Walsh

Walking down West 21st Street in Chelsearecently I spotted a classic car parked by the sidewalk, and a not-so-quick online search revealed that it was a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, one of the make’s last great gasps, produced from 1962-1964.






I wasn’t aware that New York State produced special license pates for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. In the 1960s, NY State’s dominant license plate colors were navy, black, yellow and orange. Turns out that special plates were produced for the Fair of 1939-40 as well.

Due to a number of factors, Studebaker’s finances were poor by 1954, leading to a merger with Packard. Studebaker-Packard would fare no better, as Studebaker would lose 43 million dollars in 1956, and Packard disappeared altogether after 1958.

Studebaker would rebound in 1959,
 introducing the compact Lark, a success that helped push Studebaker back into the black. By 1961, however, Studebaker would be back in the loss column. They countered with the new Gran Turismo Hawk for the 1962 model year, styled by Brooks Stevens. The Studebaker Avanti debuted as a 1963 model. Styled under Raymond Loewy, the Avanti featured disc brakes, optional supercharged engines, and a fiberglass body. Studebaker’s financial problems continued, however.

In December 1963,
 Studebaker closed its South Bend plant. Production continued through March 1966 at the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada plant, where a blue and white 1966 Cruiser marked the end of 114 years of Studebaker vehicle production.
 Unique Cars and Parts

Forgotten Fan Joe DeMarco: In NY, there is something called “year of issue” plates which means if you own a classic car, like the Studebaker in your blog, you can legally use old fashioned plates that were used during that time period, as the owner of the Studebaker did. This applies only to older classic cars of course not newer models. Sadly, NJ does not have this option, but it is not a big deal as NJ plates were never as colorful as the NY counterparts. Here in NJ we have “historic” plates which can be used on any car at least 25 years old provided the car is NOT used for daily driving and that it can be proved that another car exists that the owner can use as his daily driver. Proper pictures and documentation of the classic car must be produced in order to get classic plates and insurance. Insurance for a historic car is only about $130 per year, a real bargain.