With plenty of space and refinement, the Hawk offers something for everyone.
Rootes pulled off a nifty trick when it launched the new Hawk model in 1957. That curvy, chrome-laden body, complete with wraparound windscreen, had all the styling cues adopted ‘across the pond’ just a few years earlier, yet it was never viewed as a brash American wannabe in the way that many contemporary Vauxhalls and Fords were. Perhaps perceptions were swayed by the interior, resplendent with polished walnut and a neat array of conventional round instruments. Either way, the resulting package is extremely alluring, and has an appeal all of its own that still resonates today.
Humber Hawk (Series IA-IVA)
Power (bhp@rpm) 73bhp@4400rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 120lb ft@2300rpm
Top speed 84mph
Gearbox 4-speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Sills comprise inner, centre and outer panels. All three corrode in unison, but a common bodge is to fit new outers over weakened inners, so be aware of this and check thoroughly. Windscreens tend to leak from the lower corners, causing rust in the A-posts. These are difficult areas to repair because several panels meet up behind them. Front footwells corrode from the bulkhead end backwards, so lift the carpets and have a good root around under there.
If you find underbody seal or new paint, then be particularly suspicious. Rear wheelarches rust, but repair panels are available. The outer edges of the boot floor are attacked from beneath by road spray from the rear wheels, meaning they often rust. Check the spare wheel while you’re there, too. The lower rear corners of the rear wings also suffer from spray damage.
The Hawk’s 2.3-litre engine was shared with the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 and lived on in the Commer van. It is a tough unit, the only significant design flaw being the four-bearing crankshaft that can snap due to over-advanced ignition timing. Oil pressure at tickover will be around 25psi on a healthy engine, but the reading at 50mph is a truer indication of bearing condition. It should be 40-50psi. If it’s more like 10psi, budget for new bearing shells and a crank regrind. Noisy tappets could be down to badly adjusted valve clearances, but a worn rocker shaft is more likely.
The Hawk’s manual gearbox began life in the Hillman Minx of 1936, and is a known weak point. There is no synchromesh on first gear, meaning it is prone to sheared teeth. Ensure it changes smoothly on a test drive, then, with the engine idling, listen carefully for noises from worn bearings that disappear when you depress the clutch.
An inch of free play at the steering wheel is usual, but be wary if there is more. There are more than 20 grease nipples on the front suspension alone – each needs a squirt every 1000 miles or so. If this hasn’t been done, be prepared for consequent wear.
When in good nick, the suspension gives a very smooth ride. Some wallow is to be expected, but don’t confuse this with worn out joints. Use a lever to test for play in the fulcrum pins.
Have a good look at the walnut dash for cracks and signs of water or sunlight damage. Make sure the indicator and choke switches function, and examine the steering wheel for cracks. Decent replacements for any of these are scarce, so be wary. Don’t ignore the carpets, either – they’re made from high-quality stuff, and it can get surprisingly expensive to replace shoddy examples.