'Hawkeye' collection will be featured on TV's “Chasing Classic Cars”

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John “Hawkeye” Hawkinson hosts an “open barn” event to let people see his collection of antique cars in September 2010. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

The story of the late John “Hawkeye” Hawkinson and his prized collection of antique cars will be featured later this month on the television show “Chasing Classic Cars” on the Velocity channel.

“It’s going to be a one-hour special and our season premiere,” Hannah Lintner of Crashing Wave Entertainment, which produces “Chasing Classic Cars,” said in an email. “I hope you all enjoy the episode.”

The show, hosted by car collector and restorer Wayne Carini, will be broadcast March 15 at 9 p.m.

A press release for the upcoming season of the show says the episode will feature Carini and his friend Ralph Marano as they go on “an exceptional chase for a one-of-one, all-original 1930 Minerva bodied by Hibbard & Darrin, just north of Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains.

“As extraordinary as the car is, what may be more extraordinary is the life of the man who owned it,” the release states. “An eccentric recluse, John Whitney Hawkinson (known locally as ‘Hawkeye’) walked away from a life of privilege and into the Adirondacks where he lived for decades in an uninsulated farmhouse and quietly amassed a collection of more than 40 classic cars.”

Hawkeye was an eccentric collector of “all things beautiful” who shunned his family’s fortune for a simple, solitary life in the Adirondacks. He was a master mechanic and an accomplished artist, photographer and writer. He was also a colorful character, perhaps best known locally for driving through Saranac Lake in midwinter with the top down in one of his Packards, wearing a raccoon-skin coat and smoking a corncob pipe.

At the time of Hawkeye’s death in July 2016, he had 43 antique vehicles stored in a pair of barns on his property, including cars, tractors, chassis and fire trucks from the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake fire departments. In the months that followed, his vast collection was sold, one by one, to dealers and restorers across the country. The proceeds from the sales were donated to charity.

Hawkeye’s name is well known among classic car enthusiasts like Carini. Carini’s late father, who worked for Packard Motor Car Company in Hartford, Connecticut, was a good friend of Hawkeye. Carini told the Enterprise last year that he remembers Hawkeye visiting his family when he was young.

The episode focused on Hawkeye and the 1930 Minerva was filmed on his property over two days in October.

“It’s a really great story,” Carini said in November. “Talking to the people who knew him, seeing his house and how he lived, seeing the barns where the cars were and his machine shop and all the stories that go along with it. It would still be a special story even if I didn’t know him as a kid, and then, of course, the story continues.”

For those who don’t get the Velocity channel, its shows, including “Chasing Classic Cars, are available online with a subscription at www.velocitychannelgo.com.

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