Stutz Blackhawk 1 Series by Padane

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Blackhawk 1 Series by Padane





The Stutz Blackhawk is an American ultra-luxury car manufactured from 1971 through 1987. Other than the name it bears no resemblance to the original Blackhawk (1929–1930). The Stutz Motor Company was revived in August 1968 by New York banker James O'Donnell. He joined forces with retired Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner who designed the new Blackhawk. Exner's design included a spare tire that protruded through the decklid, a faux radiator shell-type chrome grille and freestanding headlamps. The new Blackhawk was prototyped by Ghia in Italy at a cost of over US$300,000. To offer exclusivity and still permit easy servicing in the U.S. a General Motors platform and engine served as the base for the custom built Italian body. The Blackhawk debuted in January 1970 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Prices ranged from US$22,500 to US$75,000. All early Blackhawks were coupes, but rare sedans were produced later. Convertible versions were called D'Italia and Bearcat. Stutz Blackhawks became the car of choice among elite entertainers of the day. By 1976 Stutz had sold 205 Blackhawks and about six a month were handbuilt in Italy and shipped to the U.S. By April 1980 350 Blackhawks had been sold and by the time production ended in 1987 approximately 500 to 600 cars had been manufactured.

Series production began in 1970; the original design (Series I) has a split windshield and was handmade at Carrozzeria Padane in Modena, Italy. From 1972, with the Series II, production commenced at Carrozzeria Saturn in Cavallermaggiore, near Torino, Italy. In 1973 the Series III was introduced; this version was kept in production until 1979. New series numbers were issued almost every year, ending with the Blackhawk VII, but there are no serious distinctions until the new, smaller Blackhawk VIII appeared for 1980. Mechanical changes mirroring those of the Pontiac Grand Prix took place, and the taillights were changed on occasion. For 1978 Pontiac chose to downsize the Grand Prix, but Stutz did not want to follow the same route and did not have a new design at the ready. Instead, they stocked up on a large number of 1977 Grand Prix and kept building the car for an additional two years.

In 1980, the Blackhawk VIII was presented. The basic design was reworked to suit the Pontiac Bonneville chassis (later on the Parisienne), which had a near-identical wheelbase to that of the earlier Grand Prix. In 1985, Stutz changed to using the Oldsmobile Delta 88/Buick LeSabre chassis - versions of the same General Motors B platform which had been used earlier, but no longer offered by Pontiac.

With an extra heavy gauge steel body, the Blackhawk measures greater than 19 feet (5.8 meters) long. Production Blackhawks used Pontiac Grand Prix running gear, Pontiac's 7.5 L (455 in³) V8 engine, a GM TH400 three-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. With its engine tuned to produce 425 hp (317 kW) and 420 lb⋅ft (570 N⋅m), the 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) Blackhawk can accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.4 seconds with a 130 mph (210 km/h) top speed, delivering eight miles per gallon (30 L/100 km).

Later Blackhawks use Pontiac's 403 and 350 V8 engines. Also Ford, Chevrolet and Cadillac engines were used. The handbuilt Blackhawk received 18 to 22 hand-rubbed lacquer paint coats that took six weeks to apply. Total production time for each vehicle was over 1500 man-hours.

Exner's design included a spare tire that protruded through the trunk lid and freestanding headlamps. The fuel filler cap is positioned inside the spare tire on the first models. The interior includes 24-carat gold plated trim and bird's eye maple or burled walnut and redwood, Connolly leather seats and dash, instrument markings in both English and Italian, fine wool or mink carpeting and headlining, a cigar lighter, and a liquor cabinet in the back. There is a clock in the steering wheel hub on some later models. Other special features include automatic headlamp controls with twilight sensor, cornering lamps, bilevel automatic air conditioning, Superlift air adjustable shock absorbers, Safe-T-Track limited slip differential, an electric sunroof, cruise control, central locking, a burglar alarm, non-functional exhaust side pipes, and a high-end Lear Jet AM/FM eight-track quadraphonic sound system. The first models rolled on special 17-inch Firestone LXX run-flat tires and rims. These were taken off the market however as they turned out to be unsafe

The 1971 Blackhawk's factory price was US$22,500; adjusted for inflation approximately US$142,440 in 2020 dollars. The Stutz d’Italia was advertised as “the most expensive car sold today” at $129,500 at the same time as the Bearcat VI was offered for under half this at “only $64,165”.

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