Thank you for your interest in the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners Register. I hope the following information will answer most of your questions.
The Short Version:
I started the Owners Register in January 1989 for the purpose of helping other 1956 Golden Hawk owners and to try to identify the remaining 1956 Golden Hawks. I ask each owner to send the serial number (from the driver door jamb) and body number (from the firewall on the passenger side) for each 1956 Golden Hawk he/she owns. This is the only requirement for inclusion in the Register. I publish a periodic newsletter, called 56J ONLY every 4 months (Feb, June and November), with information and questions supplied by other owners and/or fans. The newsletter is free to registered owners. All the back issues are available for viewing on this web site. Registered owners with Internet access will receive a notice when a new newsletter is posted which allows them to view it at their convenience. Owners without Internet access will receive a printed B/W copy.
Often I receive letters from non owners requesting membership. There is no actual membership. What I have is simply a list of people who own at least one 1956 Golden Hawk..Since I am paying the cost of printing and postage for the newsletter, I have had to limit the printed distribution to OWNERS only. However, ALL the back issues of the newsletter are posted on the web site, so anyone with web access can view, download, and/or print them. Simply click on Newsletters on the header screen.To help cover some my costs, I offer various manuals, Books, CDs, DVDs, decals, patches, and other items for sale a low prices. See "56J Publications and Products" on the web site for more information.Many of these items are available for free on this web site. Those items are listed on the Options page. I offer them for free because the purpose is to provide help and information, not to dangle a carrot in front of the people we are trying to help. Owners accessing us via the Internet are not an expense, therefore we can offer some items for free this way.
I also receive letters from individuals who wish to buy a 1956 Golden Hawk. Most of our members are pretty happy with their cars but there are times someone will put one up for sale. Some times they do run across another car that is for sell and you might be able to get one this way. I will be happy to put an ad, at no charge to you, on the web site and in the Newsletter for you and maybe something will turn up. The newsletter is only done three times a year, so it could be up to four months before your ad appears, but anyone with Internet access can see your ad immediately.
If you are looking for a 1956 Golden Hawk,
here are some things to watch for: the serial # on the driver's side
post MUST be either in the range of 6030001 - 6033472 (for cars
in South Bend) or 6800001 - 6800601 (for cars assembled in Los
The body # (cowl, passenger side under the hood) MUST read 56J-K7 and
from 1 to 4 digits below in the range of 1 to 4073.
I hope I have been able to answer any
you may have had about the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners
Please check the related items below for more information.
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The Long Version:
The seeds for the Register were started when I responded to a letter from Don Girvan of Moncton New Brunswick who asked what color the valve covers should be. This started us on a quest to find upholstery material for the seats and door panels for our cars as they were the same color. While this was going on, I was trying to figure out why I had a lifter noise problem on a newly rebuilt engine. This was holding up the restoration since I didn't want to finish the car only to find I might have to pull the engine again. Eventually my problem was solved when I met Bob Deitzler of Simi Valley CA at the Studebaker Drivers Club International Meet held in Estes Park Colorado in 1987. Bob explained how there was an oil pump modification that would cure the problem. I had the modification done on the oil pump and after almost five years of frustration, I could finally drive the car more than 10 miles at a time.
In late 1988, I thought about these two instances and decided that
there will most likely be other problems I will encounter for which
someone else has already found the solution. Rather than "reinventing
the wheel" each time, I thought how nice it would be to have a network
of owners who could correspond and help each other. So, in January 1989 I
formed the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Information Exchange Group. I
put an ad in the Studebaker Drivers Club's magazine asking owners to
contact me with their information, I also thought it would be nice to
identify and track the remaining cars so I made it a requirement to
supply the car's serial number as a cost of joining the group. I didn't
expect more than about 20-30 responses and figured I could afford to
publish a periodic newsletter for a small group at no charge. I was
working at the time and printing costs were rather cheap at about 3
cents for a double sided sheet.
Well, the response ran beyond 50 in less than two months and reached 60+ by the end of the year. Still, I wanted to keep this a free enterprise and despite several registrants suggestion that I charge dues, I resisted. Charging dues would mean record keeping and processing renewals each year and also meant I couldn't quit if I decided the effort was not worth it. But, I offered to accept donations many owners were very generous. You have to realize that in Studebaker circles, our cars are unique because they have a Packard V8 engine installed instead of a Studebaker V8. When most parts suppliers offered V8 engine parts, they usually added the phrase, "except 1956 GH, or except 56J". 56J was the model designator assigned by Studebaker fir the 1956 Golden Hawk. Owners were so happy to receive a newsletter dedicated to their particular model that they sent in donations to express their gratitude and hopefully keep the project funded. That is how I came upon naming our newsletter, 56J Only. Things progressed and more owners registered with the number exceeding 110 by end of the second year.
All this time I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a parts manual that dealt only with our particular year and model.
I began this project in 1990 and by 1994 it was completed. I went
each section of the body and chassis parts manuals which covered
several years and models, selected only items for the "56J" and typed
each character into my word processing file. I personally typed the nearly 370,000 words filling 350 pages
formatting just like the normal Studebaker parts manuals including the
list of indices, introduction, list of abbreviations, index of major
groups and subgroups, alphabetical index, line drawings, every part #
used on a 1956 Golden Hawk, utility items, accessory codes, and a
numerical index. I offered this for sale in printed format initially,
but have since transferred it to digital format with searchable text and
put it, along with other items on both CD and DVD media.
Once the Parts Catalog was completed, I began working on an Authenticity Guide designed to provide some form of identifying how the cars were equipped originally when they left the factory. It was also the objective to help owners wishing to restore their car to original specifications. Although I didn't think of it originally, the Guide has proven useful for prospective owners who could use the Guide to help them make an intelligent purchase. In essence, it became a useful tool for restorers, sellers, and buyers alike. This project took only two years with the completion coming in 1996. Offered in printed format only initially, it is now also offered in digital format on CD and DVD media with searchable text making it very easy to locate specific items.
I taught myself typing when I was about 12 years old, and this
ability has proven to be a blessing ever since. I spent my working
career in the data processing field which later became know as
management information. I started working on the old punched card
equipment which occasionally required me to use a key punch machine,
that little thing that punched the rectangular holes in the Hollerith
cards, better known as IBM cards. Later, as a programmer and we made the
switch from key punch cards to input through a keyboard, this typing
ability made the transition seamless. It's amusing, but I've gotten much
more use out of my self taught typing skill than anything I learned in
Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or political science. I used to know all
the Presidents in order, the capitol of every State, and most of the
elements in the periodic table but lack of use of the information has
left me with many holes to fill. However, I still know the location of
each letter key on the keyboard. On the other hand, English and
Mathematics have been very useful so to my teachers Mrs. Shier and Miss
Neiman, I say a heartfelt thank you!
Things took a decided leap in exposure when I was able to put our
Register on the World Wide Web. In 1999, by wife Anita gave me one of
those How To books "for dummies" as a birthday present. I like to think
it was the How To part and not the Dummies reference that
was the motive behind the gift but we never discussed it. This one had
the title, "Dummies 101: Creating Web Pages" by Kim Komando. Kim's
writing style and easy to follow procedure worked well for me and I had
success on my first try. My typing skill and my computer background
allowed me to successfully create a web site and suddenly, anyone in the
world could find us. This led to a spike in both registrations
and book sales which increased the expenditures, but also the income.
With most book sales which earned very little profit, there was usually a
donation included and this helped me stay afloat for many years. It's
funny but despite keeping this a "no dues" operation, I've been able to
stay in the black since midway through the first year because of
donations and sales. We are kind of like the PBS of Studebaker
Registers, but without the periodic funds drive. No infomercials either.
Shortly after getting us on the web, I started sending the newsletter
via Email to those who had Email capability and were willing to accept
their newsletter electronically. This cut my cost and time expenditure
considerably. However the cost savings were offset by a drop in
donations. Most folks who received the newsletter electronically didn't
contribute money and rightly so as there was no cost in sending the
newsletter to them. Yet, we're still keeping our head above water
financially. If only the Studebaker Corporation could have been as
efficient! Once I got the web site working I began putting all the back
issues of the newsletter on the site and posted all subsequent issues
there as well. Now I simply send a notice to everyone whenever I post a
new issue which they can read at their convenience. The printed copy
mailing has dropped from around 250 to under 90 copies. As opposed to
the electronic version in color, the printed copies are in black and
white and most often suffer some deterioration in transit. The on-line
version is a far superior product and hopefully everyone will received
it that way some day.
With the web site fully functional, I began to exploring the video
aspect of providing information sources. I found an inexpensive hand
help video camera with a decent quality output and practiced using it to
learn now it worked. Initially, I took a few videos of the car, and
move videos at some car shows. At this point I decided the Authenticity
Guide needed some form of upgrade and the video version, called the
Restorers Guide project began. Thanks to other 56J owners, we
learned a lot since the Guide made its debut in 1996, so the video was
the perfect solution for the presentation of this new information. I
covered all the points discussed in the Authenticity Guide and slipped
in any new points of interest.
"A picture is worth a thousand words" is the adage which refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. Just for grins, I thought I thought I could be the first to offer an update such as "A video is worth a thousand pictures" but an Internet search produced over 400,000 matches. One problem with a video is that it shows surrounding areas to what is being discussed at any particular time. Those "side shows" may or may not be authentic originals. Of course, I didn't have a factory fresh 1956 Golden Hawk to use as my subject vehicle. I had to rely on my own two cars as the video stars, and there are several things that deviate from the factory version. The best advice I could offer is that if it isn't something I've discussed, don't assume what you see is correct.The video took about a year to produce and was completed in 2009.
We've also had a lot of help from owners and non owners alike. Often
I'll receive reports of 56J sightings from Studebaker fans around the
world. We've also had help with the reproduction of parts that were no longer available for many
years. Ed Reynolds of Studebaker International began reproducing the
exhaust extensions and tail light housings for our cars
several years ago. The Shrock brothers recast our steering wheels in a
material far superior to the original while retaining the original
aesthetics. Rene & Bonita Harger of Southeast Studebaker can provide
complete interiors. Owner Brent Hagen of Portland OR has manufactured several parts as
well. For those owners less interested in authenticity, owner Jack Nordstrom of New Braunfels TX has
fabricated an adapter to convert from the Ultramatic to a TH400
transmission and has a set of hardware brackets for adding air
conditioning. Pertronix now offers and electronic ignition for our relatively
rare Autolite distributor.
In 2002, owner Scott Reid started a message forum for 56J owners and
although officially a part of our Register, it has been a blessing since
its inception. It has turned this into a "good friends" community with
owners and fans corresponding from all over the globe including Sweden,
Mexico, Canada, India, South Africa, The UK, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Norway, Australia, Belgium, and The Netherlands.
Through the years I've been referred to as many names such as The 56J
Man, The 1956 Golden Hawk Guru, The 56GH Expert, ad "nauseum". But I
always point out, there is no such person. Rather it is an entity, The
Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners themselves are the collective expert,
guru, etc. Together, we probably know more about these cars than anyone
or any group in the world and the message forum has become that
knowledge data base.
When I started the Register in 1989, I set no goals for longevity or
accomplishments. I would just let it drive itself and follow the road
with no specific destination. However with the "one step at a time"
process that evolved,
things have progressed far beyond anything I could have imagined. I like
to think of us as (pardon the expression) the Cadillac of
car owners registers. Hopefully we can continue for many more years
helping the 1956 Golden Hawk owner with advice, help, and information.
For us, it's always 56J Only.