My Car Quest

September 25, 2021

The Studebaker Avanti

by Mike Gulett –

In a last ditch effort to save the company in 1961 new Studebaker president, Sherwood Egbert, wanted a sports car to excite new buyers. Studebaker made the Avanti between June 1962 and December 1963 and marketed it as “America’s Only 4 Passenger High-Performance Personal Car.”

The Avanti was built on a Studebaker Lark convertible chassis powered by a Studebaker 289 cid engine with an optional Paxton supercharger.

1963-1964 Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

Unfortunately, the fiberglass body caused production problems for Studebaker which resulted in delays and canceled orders. The Avanti was styled by Raymond Loewy, Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews and John Ebstein.

Notice there is no front grille because the air to cool the engine entered from under the front of the car. This kept the front styling smooth and extra good looking.

Studebaker Avanti

The Avanti is considered an important milestone in American car design and offered combined safety (built-in roll bar, padded interior and door latches that became structural body members when closed) and high-speed performance. The supercharged version set 29 speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats and reportedly the stock supercharged version could reach more than 178 MPH.

Following Studebaker’s demise five different owner arrangements continued producing the Avanti model for many years, a total of around 45 years.

Studebaker Avanti

The original Studebaker models made in 1963 and 1964 are the most desirable but I think the later Avanti models (some were named the Avanti II) made after 1964 are also interesting collectables.

The Studebaker Avanti is widely considered an outstanding example of American automotive styling. Studebaker produced 4,643 Avantis in its two year life.

Even today, nearly 60 years later, the Avanti attracts attention wherever it goes. What a car!

1963 Studebaker Avanti

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Specifications

Engines: all ohv V-8; 1963-64 289 cid (3.56 × 3.63), 240/290 bhp; 1964 304.5 cid (3.65 × 3.63), 335 bhp

Transmissions: 4-speed manual; 3-speed automatic optional

Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs

Suspension rear: live axle leaf springs

Brakes: front disc/rear drum

Wheelbase (in.): 109.0

Weight (lbs.): 3140-3195

Top speed (mph): 115-120

0-60 mph (sec): 7.0-8.0

Production: 1963 3,834; 1964 809

 

 

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Logo by Raymond Loewy

Summary
The Studebaker Avanti
Article Name
The Studebaker Avanti
Description
The Studebaker Avanti is widely considered an outstanding example of American automotive styling.
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Comments

  1. I always admired this body design, except for the front with those “pool” lights, it almost looks like the front could be the rear of a car. I test drove one for sale a few years ago in Marin and I really tried to love it but I just couldn’t make an offer. The gauges look like something from a kit car. So many great things to like about the car but it just fell a little short for me.

    • Hey Phil. Those “Kit Car” gages as you call them are Stewart Warner. Just sayin. As far as styling? Closest thing to it in my opinion would be “69” Mustang. “70” Camaro. “70” Barracuda/ Challenger. So what? Seven to eight years ahead of the “Big Three” in design philosophy. Interior was way ahead of the design curve as well. So my opinion is 180 degrees from yours. But you know what they say about opinions……..

      • I grew up admiring these cars as I was teen in 1963. They were outstanding and exotic and in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. they were not rare. As I grew older I sort of forgot about them and then in recent years I began seeing them at car shows. As I said, I liked them enough 4 years ago to consider a purchase but I was a little underwhelmed once I got to really check out the quality. I have been focused on checking out and buying euro classics in the past 11 years and it was during this time I examined the Avanti and was mostly comparing apples to oranges, in a way. Shortly after I made the above comments last year I had a change of heart and realized that it truly is a special car for all of the reasons you mentioned, plus my own early admiration for them. Also, for the price point, they are and have been a bargain for some time, which I have not found in the world of european classics. I still find the front end “lacking” but I really like the bumper design.

        Cheers

  2. The car was a styling milestone. All the driving dynamics could be corrected easily today. Growing up in Tampa you could find these being driven in St Petersburg often by the “Gray Hairs”.

  3. Robb Northrup says

    This car was the predecessor of the Maserati Mexico-type of 4 place GTs. Quite the vehicle for a staid company like Studebaker to build. In its day, it was fast (in supercharged R2 or R3 tune) and comfortable, with a styling that was neither American nor European.

    Wish I had an R3 in my garage, now…

  4. wallace wyss says

    There is a black convertible that shows up at Malibu Cars ‘n Coffees. I was horrified to learn it is a fiberglass body glued atop a Mustang steel body. So it is heavy, Just lifting the hood was hard work. Bu the quality is good. The owner told me it was the first product of a man who started an Avanti company in a Mexican resort town but he only made three when he was arrested. The three prototypes were sold cheap, like $7000.

  5. You’re right. They are a bargain. And The prices are only climbing. For now anyway. You know how that goes. The supercharged versions were fast and quick. Set all kinds of speed records at Bonneville Salt Flats. The Dashboard design was basically copied by Chevrolet with the”70″ Camaro. One of their problems was they were always ahead of their time in design. A lot of people see them awkward. “Different By Design.” Was one of their sales mottos. I always liked “Different.” Anyway I own a few. There’s a lot of cool history. Lots of advanced engineering and technology. They were broke by the time the Avanti came along. Had They had the means to invest in the dynamics the car would have been unstoppable as fast as it was. If you’re interested in automotive history and don’t already know about Studebaker’s history check it out.

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