MARYVILLE, Mo. —  The Maryville Board of Education recently approved the purchase of a 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk as a project car for students in the collision repair class at Northwest Technical School.

At a cost of $9,500, this is the first time the district has purchased a vehicle for the class. Typically the tech school works with car owners who volunteer their vehicles. This offers a limited amount of time for students to complete the work.

“What we do in this program, and I’m very proud of it, is that we truly work on real world projects,” said Jeremy Ingraham, NTS director. “So when you hear about project based learning, we’ve done that at the tech school since 1967. We’ve always truly been project based.”

On donated vehicles, students in the class repair those and the district sells them back to the public through www.govdeals.com.  Those funds are then used for the Skills USA program and the repair class at the tech school.

“We have had people donate vehicles and that’s great,” said Ingraham.

However, when a vehicle is donated, it puts time constraints on the project. During the 2018-2019 school year the class ran into some timing issues because of snow days.

Purchasing the vehicle outright allows the district to create its own teaching and repair schedule.

“In our collision repair area, we will do everything from a frame-off restoration per year, and we try to get that … vehicle to a World of Wheels show so the kids get to see and experience that,” said Ingraham. “But we also do daily bent and dent work that any auto collision repair shop would do. That truly is what you would see out (in the real world) and we train these men and women for that.

“It’s not a simulation and I like that. I’m proud of my teachers to be able to offer that. We are supported by our sending school boards and superintendents in that.”

Ron Wiederholt, NTS Collision Repair instructor, said the World of Wheels show was where he met the man who eventually sold the Hawk to the district. In 2018, students from the collision repair class restored a 1957 Nash Metropolitan and it was featured at the event.

The Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, or GT Hawk, was a sporty coupe sold between 1962 and 1964, according to Hemmings Daily, a classic car news website.

It features bucket seats, a console in the front and a Positrac (or limited slip differential) system acquired from Packard in a 1954 merger, according to the Studebaker Museum website. Befitting a sport-luxury touring car, all seats were upholstered in either cloth and vinyl or all-pleated vinyl.

According to Ingraham, the vehicle has 19,000 original miles on it. Wiederholt said it spent 41 years in storage in California, before it was purchased and hauled to Missouri by a previous owner. 

“This is going to get exploded completely apart, every nut, every bolt, every screw,” he said. “It’ll be completely taken apart, massaged and put back together, original color, original material. It’s going to look like it rolled off the showroom (floor).”

He said even though the Hawk will be a focus for the students, they still will do the regular shop work — very similar to how a shop works with day-to-day regular business and various side projects. 

“We’ll pull three or four people and put them on different aspects of the car,” said Wiederholt. “The body’s coming off the frame. The frame is getting rolled out. We’ll dismantle the frame, blast it, clean it. It’ll be every piece.”

He said he was pleasantly surprised after having a student explore the status of the paint with a dual action sander. 

“There’s one coat of paint,” he said. “The white paint, it’s one coat, … everything original there.”

Though the hood and roof do have a partial coat of flat black paint on them, there isn’t any previous repair work with body putty or fillers. Wiederholt explained a previous owner had planned to “hot rod it,” but stopped.

Already beginning the deconstruction part of the vehicle is Maryville High School junior Ben Clements. He’s been working on bagging and tagging items to keep track of each original piece that comes off the car.

“I like when you see it finished,” he said explaining he did some of the interior in the Nash. “I liked the Nash.” 

Tracking the parts down to each screw will help future students who weren’t a part of the tear down process begin to put it back together, they’ll be able to easily find each piece.

Unique characteristics

Though now in disrepair, the two-door, hardtop Hawk features some interesting and original details. Some of those include factory gauges, a tachometer and rear quarter glass windows that open and close, not by rolling up and down or even by a pop-open hinge to vent, but by rolling sideways and dipping down into the C-pillar of the vehicle.

While turning the window crank, Wiederholt joked he wished it played music like a jack-in-the-box toy.

“It pivots,” he said. “It’s amazing. … It’s an old sports car. It’s crazy. It’s going to be fun.”

With regard to the engine, Wiederholt said a connecting rod bolt —which supports the primary tension loads caused by each rotation or cycle of the crankshaft — came apart and scored the cylinder. He already has another block ready to replace it.

“That’s a full four so it’s actually going to be even better,” he said. “That’s the motor people want if they do have this. It’ll run out longer with less problems down the road.”

According to www.thetruthaboutcars.com, only about 15,000 Hawk GTs were produced by Studebaker before the final Studebaker left the last company manufacturing plant in the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, factory on March 17, 1966. The original South Bend, Indiana, plant had closed previously in 1963 due to financial issues.

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