1963 Studebaker Hawk

How can I get past “vapor lock”? this on a 1963 Hawk 289v8 2bbl. auto. The list below is as close as they will allow.

An Avanti! I remember Studebaker Hawk from ‘Billy was mountain’.

Either insulate or re-route the fuel line. Use non ethanol gas if you can find it. Make sure your thermostat is not hotter than original. Check your timing, on cars with ignition points the timing changes as the points wear.


@oldtimer-11 has very good suggestions. I would add, if there is a thicker insulator gasket available for the carburetor, use that. Otherwise, use two gaskets. It helps insulate direct heat from the manifold.

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Depending on how much you want to spend.
The Studebaker 289 intake can be machine out to accept a 4 barrel carb. Having done that, switch to a throttle body fuel injection, (Holly, MSD, etc.)
Of course this also requires changing the entire fuel delivery system.
I would estimate about $2000.

Another option switch to an electric fuel pump, but make sure pressure can be regulated low enough to NOT flood your engine with the 2-bbl.

Suggest you consider looking at/joining the Studebaker Drivers Club.

BTW: for other readers. The Studebaker 289 is NOT a Ford 289.
The Studebaker OHV V8 was introduced in 1951.

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I also agree with this advice.

Studies bring back memories for me. In the '60s a H.S. buddy and I were trying to make the acquaintance of a few young ladies while idling in his Studebaker. It backfired and the carb caught fire. Not an unknown occurrence in those days. As a matter of fact. PCV valves were invented to prevent a backfire from igniting the vapors inside the valvecover when crankcase ventilation systems replaced the old “vent to atmosphere” mushroom vents on the valvecovers. Anyway, we shut the engine off, popped the hood, smothered the fire, and went on our way. The girls had already walked away. :rofl:

Try installing a fuel pressure check valve.

Today’s fuel injection systems prevent vapor lock by maintaining fuel pressure over a certain period of time. This is called residual fuel pressure.

If you can maintain fuel pressure once the engine is shut off hot, you don’t get vapor lock.


Carbed engines operate on very low fuel pressures, typically about 3psi, basically just enough to keep the float bowls full. Modern fuel injected engines operate on 40psi and up. Carbed engines are not going to operate at high pressures. The pressure would override the float bowl needle valve and push the fuel into the venturi in volume.

Rerouting or insulating the fuel lines is, IMHO, the best prevention for vapor lock. . There are good insulating wraps out there that IMHO should be tried.

You can also buy or fabricate a fiber spacer to fit between the carburetor and intake manifold to help prevent heat soak into the carburetor float bowl.

Many Fords back in the carbureted era had 1/4" thick fiber spacers for that very reason. Subaru also had an insulator block but it was near worthless. One could look at the sight glass on the carburetors about 5 minutes after shutdown and see the gasoline boiling just like a coffee pot. Same for Nissan. Toyota’s “cure” was the addition of a miniature fan mounted by the carb and which would blow air over the float bowl.

The problem with carburetors is that you can’t maintain pressure in the float bowl. The gasoline boils and overflows through the accelerator pump discharge tubes.

All cars in those times were subject to backfires and vapor lock. I went with a friend and his father to pick uo the fathers brand new 57 Ford station wagon that was less than two miles from their house. The car didn’t make it home

The car backfired and blew the air cleaner off, The doors we had carefully locked wouldn’t open and no one knew where the hood release was. By the time we got out the windows and git the hood open, there was no paint on most of the hood and the engine would no longer start.

As far as most carbed cars had around 3 psi fuel pressure, most Chrysler products were 4 1/2 but there was at least on Chevy that was 13.

A boyfriend of one of my daughters was over to our house with a AMC with the 232 6 cylinder he had just tuned up. When he went to leave, his car would not start and had a strong smell of gas. My first thought was ruptured fuel pump diaphragm but when I opened the hood, I could see a brand new fuel pump and gas overflowing the carb. I rapped the carb a few times,hoping for a stuck needle valve, but no help. I next hooked up my vacuum and pressure gauge to the fuel line and as soon as he tried to start the engine it pegged my gauge which only went to 6 or 7 pounds,

Off came the new pump and back to the parts store. They promptly gave him a new pomp and the new one did the same thing. Back to the store, much argument, left with the 3rd pump that we had to get from next closest branch. Same thing, back to the original store, much shouting, finally left with the kids money back. When we went to the Napa store, they looked up the part number he had been given and were told that even though it looked like the AMC pump it was actually for a Chevy with 13 lb pressure.

I just happened to ask the kid at that time WHY had he replaced the fuel pump. He said someone had told him it was a good idea as part of a tune up. We went to his house to get his old pump out of the trash, put it on and his car ran beautifully.

I don’t know why more people don’t use a vacuum gauge today, I see all these questions about "Is my converter clogged? " and a vacuum gauge is the easiest way to tell.

How did you come to that conclusion?
The Gran Turismo Hawk was made from '62-'64, and the 2 bbl 289 V-8 was standard equipment on those beautiful cars, with the Avanti R-2, R-3, and R-4 engines as options. Believe it or not, some GT Hawks that were manufactured for export had a six-cylinder engine under the hood!

The Avanti was made for only the '63 and '64 model years. Thus, in 1963, you could walk into a Studebaker showroom and have your choice of GT Hawks, Avantis, and–of course–Lark, Cruiser, and Daytona sedans, as well as the innovative Wagonaire. The Daytona was also available as a convertible.

For your edification:

Armaflex pipe insulation works great for this. It’s available from HVAC supply shops.

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Unless you want to keep your Hawk ‘pure stock’ have some fun.
The 289 can be bored out to a 304. You can obtain original heads that have been CNC reworked (or if really lucky some R2heads

) and performance intake manifolds are available, you MIGHT be able to find improved exhaust manifolds.
Update the ignition system, add the TBI and surprise a lot of people when the light turns green!
Now if I win the powerball, the Hawk I want built.

The subject of poster’s original message was that it was a '70 Avanti, the text describing it as similar to the Hawk in hopes that would recruit more advice. I’ve seen Avantis twice; I don’t remember seeing a Hawk.

I was lucky in that our town had a Studebaker dealership, so I was able to gaze at my favorite make of car any time that I wanted to. Later, the assistant coach of my high school track team had a GT Hawk, and I sat in that beautiful car every chance that I got.

The car vapor locking is a 63 Hawk, 289 AT, however , the posting process only allowed the 70 Avanti as being the closest to my car.

Are you sure it’s vapor locking and not sucking air ?
A bad pickup tube in the tank, a loose hose clamp on the rubber hose coming from tank, pinhole in the fuel line anywhere before the fuel pump.

If I let it cool for a while, it staarts back up and runs ok for a while.

That’s the same symptoms of a bad ignition coil.

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Good ideas above. Also look for a metal-tube gadget right near where the fuel pump line connects to the carb, which re-routes excess gasoline from the pump back to the gas tank. You Hawk may not have that part, but according to the manual for my 10 year newer 302 Ford truck, that part is there for a purpose, and important in preventing vapor lock. If you find it, make sure the inner workings aren’t clogged up with gunk etc, and that the return hose going back the tank flows free.