1956 STUDEBAKER FLIGHT HAWK
Jeff Loehr of Battle Ground, Washington sent some "before" and "after" pictures of his 1956 Flight Hawk that was restored just in time for his daughter's wedding in August 2011.
Jeff's father in law, Tom Hazzard of Boise, Idaho at one time had 110 Studebakers.
Tom was lost to cancer in 2004.
Tom was the Director and with his wife Barbara the founder of the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree, an event that continues to this day.
Jeff's Flight Hawk is one of the last remaining cars from Tom Hazzard's Studebaker herd and one of only two that is still on the road.
Work in Progress
The Finished Product
Rear Angle View
The Happy Bride
Jeff acquired the Flight Hawk about 18 years ago, and while he had good intentions, it ended up sitting indoors.
At one point, Jeff decided it was time for the car to go, and it was listed on Craigslist for a time.
There were some lookers but no buyers and so the car stayed put.
As its turns out, Jeff's daughter Rachael was to marry in August 2011 and she says to Jeff in June (eyes batting appropriately) "Daddy, I wish I had a Studebaker to drive away in when we get married, it would be like having Grandpa there with us."
This would be hard for any Studebaker loving father to resist.
Jeff and his wife discussed the matter and decided to dive in and restore the Flight Hawk in time for their daughter's wedding.
Fortunately, with a new battery and a new electronic ignition, plugs, and wires the motor fired up and barely even smoked.
The car had sat for so long that all the gas had evaporated.
The clutch was rebuilt and the brakes and shocks were replaced.
The hill holder proved to be tricky as the brakes were locking up but this was eventually sorted out.
The chrome was sent to Pacific Northwest Plating and Jeff started on the body work.
Jeff did the body work including repair of the "usual places" and then trailered the car to a soda blasting shop to strip it down to bare metal.
Soda blasting is a non-abrasive paint removal process that uses compressed air to deliver sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) directly to a painted surface without generating heat.
The advantage of soda blasting is that it won't scratch any chrome or glass still on the car.
With the car down to bare metal, Jeff applied a self-etching primer.
Then off to the paint shop and back home just one week before the wedding.
With the car back home, the chrome was bolted on and the lights were made operational.
Jeff's soon to be son-in-law Dan then had his first driving experience with a three on the tree.
It was a little hard on the new clutch, but Studebaker clutches are pretty tough.
The car still needs the radiator rebuilt and a water pump as it has a tendency to heat up but it is licensed and insured and once again back on the road.
Jeff says this is one Studebaker that won't be seeing the scrap yard for a long time.
Dan and Rachael were married on August 20th, 2011 (the hottest day of the summer) and drove away in the Flight Hawk with the heater on full blast.
Dan has since learned how to turn off the heater.
Rachael is on the heart transplant list with the University of Washington.
Jeff is sure that Tom Hazzard was looking on and was more than pleased to see this Flight Hawk soaring one again.
Thanks to Jeff for sending the pictures and for sharing this wonderful story about a father's love of both family and Studebakers.