1963 Studebaker Avanti news, pictures, specifications, and information
Sold for $30,800 at 2007 Gooding & Company
The original design for the Studebaker Avanti took only a few weeks for Raymond Loewy and his design team to create. Production began near the close of 1962 and soon attracted the attention of several celebrities and a large number of consumers. To showcase the cars capabilities, Andy Granatelli drove a specially-prepared example to over 170 mph at Bonneville. This meant the Avanti was the 'Worlds Fastest Production Car' at the time.
Though it was an advanced vehicle with better than average performance, sales were slow. Production soon came to a halt and by 1964, Studebaker had closed its South Bend plant.
This Studebaker Avanti R1 example was produced during the first of round headlights. The prior owner was Lloyd Richardson who personally restored the car to factory specifications.
The car is painted in factory black with a black-and-tan vinyl interior. It is equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, fiberglass bodywork, a Borg-Warner Automatic gearbox, factory air conditioning, and a 289 cubic-inch 'Jet Thrust' V8 engine.
In 2007 the car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, California where it was estimated to sell for $20,000 - $30,000. It was offered without reserve. Those estimates proved accurate as the lot was sold for $30,800 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
Studebaker's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette was the Avanti. It was built in similar fashion using fiberglass for the body and built on a standard chassis - the Lark Daytona Convertible. For an additional $210, a supercharger version of Studebaker's 289 CID V-8 could be had. Sadly, the Avanti did not help the failing company and production of Studebakers in the US ended on December 9th of 1963. The Avanti continued as an independent brand into the 1980's.
The Studebaker Avanti was a sports coupe built by the Studebaker Corporation at the direction of its president Sherwood Egbert between June 1962 and December 1963. It has been described as 'one of the more significant milestones of the postwar industry', gaining iconic status with enthusiasts and collectors.
Designed by Raymond Loewy's team of Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews and John Ebstein on a 40-day crash program, the Avanti featured a radical fiberglass body design mounted on a modified Studebaker Lark Daytona 109-inch convertible chassis with a modified 289 Hawk engine. Only 4,643 Avantis (not including prototypes, some of which were assigned serial numbers at the end of the run) were produced.
This Avanti is in original, unrestored condition. The paint, interior and motor are 100% original. It has 48,000 original miles.
This car's owner is its third. The car was sold new to a doctor in Northwest Pennsylvania.
Raymond Loewy was contracted by Studebaker management to design, in secret, an entirely new car with the hope of revitalizing the image of America's oldest vehicle manufacture. Loewy and his team produced the Avanti (meaning 'forward' in Italian), a sport coupe introduced as a 1963 model coded 63R. Styling included a built-in roll bar with an aerodynamic glass fiber body that swept back from smooth, unconventional front styling into a Coke bottle shape that enclosed amenities for four people to travel in grand touring, bucket seat comfort uncommon for the time. High style slim line seats and full, aircraft style instrumentation were augmented with either a manual or autoshift transmission.
Caliper disc brakes, the first in domestic production, provided stopping power for the 3,240 lb Avanti. Power was from Studebaker's 289 cubic-inch, overhead valve engine as either the single 4-barrel R1, 240 horsepower, or R2, Paxton supercharged delivering 290 horsepower. Much rarer were Avanti's with the engine bored to 304.5 cubic-inches supercharged to about 345 horsepower, the R3 or the R4 dual 4-barrel engine without supercharging.
An experimental engine with dual superchargers, the R5, produced about 575 horsepower. These were the cars that set 29 new world land speed records at Bonneville in late 1962 with an R3 Avanti becoming the fastest American production car of the time. Total Avanti production in all forms was 3,834 with an average price of $4,445.
In 1736 three hardy Studenbecker men sailed from Germany for Philadelphia. One of their descendants was John Studebaker who eventually settled in South Bend, Indiana. In 1852 he began what would become a prosperous wagon-making business with his five sons.
They entered the car business in 1903, first with electric cars, then with gas-power a year later. Trucks and then buses, fire engines, and even small-rail locomotives followed. Over the next fifty years a well-respected reputation for quality was slowly built.
The dashing Avanti - meaning 'forward' in Italian - debuted in 1962. Its 289 CID OHV engine came in four versions and such was its stunning design that orders soon outnumbered those for the new Corvette. However, delays with the fiberglass body caused many buyers to switch to the new Sting Ray.
The Avanti included a roll bar, aircraft-style instrumentation and disc brakes. This car had the R2 package - which meant 290 horsepower of Paxton supercharger idling under the hood. The compression ratio was a modest 9.0:1 to handle the belt-driven blower. It makes 303 lb-ft of torque; does 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and tops out at 158 mph. 3,834 Avanti's were built, costing an average of $4,445.
This car was the fourth one built and was assigned to the New York Studebaker office for publicity appearances. Options included tinted glass, power steering, seat belts, limited slip differential, radio and the supercharger. The current owner has owned a number of Avanti's including an R2 that was lost in a fire.
The Avanti was designed by Raymond Loewy's team of Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews and John Ebstein. Loewy envisioned a low-slung, long-hood/short-deck semi-fastback coupe with a grille-less nose and a wasp-waisted curvature to the rear fenders, suggesting a supersonic aircraft. The radical looking body was mounted on a modified Studebaker Lark chassis and was powered by a modified 289 cubic-inch Hawk engine. The Avanti's complex body shape would have been both challenging and expensive to build in steel, so Studebaker chose to make the exterior panels of fiberglass, outsourcing the work to the same company that built the fiberglass panels for the Chevrolet Corvette in 1953.
The Avanti featured front disc-brakes that were British Dunlop designed, made under license by Bendix, the first American production model to offer them. It was one of the first bottom breather designs where air enters from under the front of the vehicle rather than via a conventional grille, a design feature that would become much more common after the 1980s. A Paxton supercharger was offered as an option.
The Avanti was publicly introduced on April 26, 1962 at the New York International Automobile. Studebaker's financial problems resulted in the closure of the factory on December 20, 1963.
This early production 1963 example has recently undergone a complete restoration by the current owner. It features a rare orange interior and the desirable 4-speed manual gearbox.
The Avanti debuted at the 1962 Indianapolis 500. The car was created to revive interest in the failing Studebaker brand, and was marketed as a 'prestige car' similar to the Ford Thunderbird and Buick Riviera. Standard equipment included a fiberglass body, seat belts, disc brakes and a roll bar. Available options included a supercharged engine, four-speed manual transmission, and a tilt steering wheel. Bendix supplied the Avanti's disc brakes, under a license from Dunlop of England.
Studebaker came into existence in the very early 1800's where they specialized in making wagons for the Union Army during the Civil War. The company later switched over to producing automobiles and by the 1920's had built a reputation for making a fairly good car at a reasonable price. As the 1920's came to a close, the Great Depression coupled with stiff competition made business difficult for the struggling Studebaker Company. An acquisition in 1928 of the Pierce-Arrow Company nearly sent them to bankruptcy. Though the Pierce-Arrow vehicles were some of the best in the industry, they had not done enough to stay competitive. They were supports of the six-cylinder engine while the rest of the competition had outfitted their vehicles with larger eight- and twelve-cylinder vehicles. By the time Pierce-Arrow began using the larger engines, their competition again changed their marketing plans and moved 'down-market', producing lines of inexpensive cars in order to stimulate sales.
During the late 1930s the Studebaker was again able to turn a profit and their business began to prosper. After World War II they were the first American company to introduced new and dramatic designs while their competition continued to create outdated vehicles. By the close of the 1950s, the Studebaker Company was once again faced with staggering sales. In an attempt to redirect their misfortune, Raymond Loewy, a renowned industrial designer, was hired to create a performance car. With the help of three other designers, Loewy began creating a new vehicle that would surly resurrect the troubled company. Locked in a private cottage for two weeks, the team was able to create a clay model accompanied by detailed drawings which they presented to Studebaker.
Studebaker quickly began creating the car but since money was scarce, the company performed many cost-cutting measures such as modifying a Studebaker Lark convertible chassis and using that as the basis for the vehicle. By 1962 the car was ready and dubbed the Avanti, Italian for 'forward'. It was an instant love-or-hate design. Since this was to be a performance car, Studebaker employed the services of Andy and Joe Grantelli to modify the engine. In forty-days the task was completed and the result was a power-plant that could propel the Avanti to a top speed of 171.10 miles per hour, which it achieved on a clocked-run at the Nevada desert. Further fine tuning of the engine, chassis, and body gave the engine the name 'R3'.
Though it had captured the title of 'fastest production car in America' it failed to generate sales. The styling of the vehicle was too much for buyers to bare. In total, only nine examples of the Avant R3 were ever ordered. The company was forced to close its doors on December 9th, 1963 and production ceased. Production of the Studebaker Lark continued for two more years in Canada.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2012
The Studebaker marquis had been in the business for over 100 years before the Avanti was debuted. In the mid-1950s the company lacked the economy of scale of the bigger U.S. automakers like General Motors and couldn't compete with their prices. They managed to tread water by producing compact economy Lark models that sold remarkably well for the times until 1961 when their volume fell by more than half.
Being described as one of the most impactful milestones from the postwar industry, the dapper Avanti was among the most enterprising 1960s American cars. Influenced by popular Italian sports cars of the time, including Jaguar's new E-Type, it featured incredibly innovative American styling.
Just thirty-seven days after becoming president of Studebaker in early 1961, young Sherwood Egbert was doodling a design during a jet plane ride that would inspire the Avanti. Milwaukee-based designer Brooks Stevens did the best he could do with dated Studebaker cars and engine but Egbert desired a truly spectacular new car to grab the public and aid the ailing automaker.
Stevens was busy updated higher-volume cars so Egbert enlisted the creative Raymond Loewy, a well-known industrial designer with a substantial auto design background. Loewy was in fact responsible for one of the most eye-catching American car of the 1950's; the 1953 Studebaker coupe. With just a rough idea of what Egbert was wanting
the car would be designed by Loewy's hand-picked team of Tom Kellogg, Job Ebstein and veteran Bob Andrews. Andrews and Ebstein had been longtime Loewy designers and Kellogg was a recent graduate from the Art Center College of Design in southern California. His gifted team was moved to a rented desert bungalow near Palm Springs, California to fully immerse themselves without any distractions from Studebaker executives. For weeks the talented team worked 16-hour days on the design of the car. The design theme was clearly described to his team with phrases like 'wedgy silhouette' and 'Coke-shape' from Loewy. He knew that Egbert loved flying so he designed an aircraft-style cockpit, and even personally designed the wheel openings, which mimicked the flight trajectory of the Russian Sputnik space satellite.
On March 19, 1961 a clay scale model was give to Egbert by the Loewy group. The Studebaker president fell in love with it instantly. Following board approval the construction began just five short weeks after the team had began work on it. Never before had any big American automaker ever progressed so quickly.
The end result would be an impressive fiberglass body design mounted onto a revamped Studebaker Lark Daytona 109-inch convertible chassis with an updated 289 Hawk engine. Construction was set to happen at Molded Fibreglass Body Co., at Ashtabula, Ohio, which was the same company that built fiberglass panels for the Chevy Corvette back in 1953.
Featuring a coke-bottle 'waist', the Avanti was truly something to behold. It had razor-edged front fenders that flowed back to the curved rear end and landed in a dynamic tail. The roof was thin-sectioned and an extra-large window was found in the rear along with a built-in roll bar. An air scoop was at the front underneath a thin bumper and the hood had an asymmetrical hump. Passengers sat in four slim-section bucket seats, much like ones found in an Alfa Romeo sports car. On the inside it really did resemble an airplane cockpit with aircraft-style controls and instruments some even place above the windshield.
Since the design had been rushed there wasn't time or resources for wind-tunnel testing, but the Avanti proved itself to be amazingly aerodynamic. The Loewy team guessed at the car's slick shape, but it paid off when the car could hit nearly 200 mph. The body was constructed of fiberglass, once again because time and money were tight and left no roof for steel body dies. With a shortened muscular Lark convertible frame and sport suspension with front and back anti-sway bars the car was incredibly strong and also had bear radius rods to give exceptional handling.
Under the Avanti hood was an updated version of Studebakers aged but durable 289-cubic inch V8. Developing 240 horsepower in standard 'R1' form, this 'Jet Thrust' engine featured dual exhausts, four-barrel carburetor, a 3/4 –race high-lift camshaft and dual-breaker distributor. It supercharged 'R2' form it developed impressive 290 horsepower. Several supercharged 'R3' V8s engines were produced that developed 335 horsepower. An experimental 'R4' was a non-supercharged 280 hp V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors. Even more impressive was a twin-supercharged, fuel-injected 'R5' V8 engine with magneto ignition that produced 575 horsepower.
The personal luxury coupe Avanti was introduced at the New York International Automobile Show in April 26 of 1962. Advertised by Studebaker as 'America's Only 4 Passenger High-Performance Personal Car!' it continued in production until December of 1963. The public was enthusiastic over the arrival of the upscale Avanti, much to Studebaker's delight. Nicely equipped the 1963 and 1964 models had a base price of $4,445. Dubbed 'America's Most Advanced Automobile' the Avanti was available in red, gold, white, turquoise and black. Gray and maroon were later offered. The Avanti was the most expensive car in Studebaker's lineup with the Gran Turismo Hawk following close second priced at $3,095. The Avanti was designed to compete with the Buick Riviera, the Chevy Corvette Stingray and the Ford Thunderbird.
The winner of the 1962 Indianapolis 500, Roger Ward won a Studebaker Avanti as part of his prize package at the Annual Shareholders' Meeting. Ward became the first private owner of an Avanti. That same year a Studebaker Lark convertible became the Indianapolis pace car and the Avant was dubbed the honorary pace car.
At a time when safety wasn't the highest priority to U.S. automakers, Studebaker added features that included door latches that became structural body members when shut, padded interior and a built-in roll bar. The Avanti became the first mass-produced fiberglass body four-passenger American car and the first to use caliper-style disc brakes. The Avanti featured front disc brakes that were British Dunlop designed units produced under license by Bendix. A Paxton supercharger was offered as an option.
One of the fastest cars during the 1960's, some Avanti models came with a supercharged V8 engine and had a top speed of 168 mph. A modified version could reach 196 mph, which was mind-blowing for a 1960s production street car.
The plan was to sell 20,000 models in 1962, but unfortunately only 1,200 models were built. Molded Fiberglass Co., which also constructed Corvette fiberglass body parts messed up Avanti bodies and delayed production for months. Unfortunately countless delays and cancelled orders were quick to follow. Though Studebaker set up its own fiberglass production most buyers ended up cancelling their order and buying a Corvette or other comparable sport car. Rumors spread at the same time that Studebaker was on the edge of going out of business and in December of 1963 they did close their South Bend operation. The door was barely closed before the final 1964 Avanti left the plant.
The Avanti title, plant space and tooling were sold to Nate Altman and Leo Newman, Studebaker dealers in South Bend, Indiana. Lasting four decades after 1963 with Chevy V8 engines, numerous Avanti replicas and new design cars would be produced through 2006. Newman and Altman bought the rights to the car and formed Avanti Motor Corp., and continued to create hand-built models for years in the old plant dubbed 'Avanti II'. Powered came from a Corvette V8 and Gene Hardig; the original Avanti head engineer was happy to take on his old role. Altman felt that the Avanti was 'too sensational' to let it die and worked diligently for more than a decade to keep it alive. Nearly identical to the Studebaker version, the Avanti II however lost its slight front rake and featured the Corvette V8 engine. It was of a much higher quality and the purchaser was able to select their own carpet and other high-grade interior material. Altman died in the mid-1970s and his family sold the operation.
In Canada until 1966 various Larks and several other models were constructed. For some 1964 models the Avanti 240- and 290-horsepower V8s were available. In 1963 a total of 3,835 Avanti's were produced. The following year the numbers totaled at 809. One can typically tell the models apart by the rounded headlights of '63 and square headlights of '64.
Ian Fleming, James Bond author ordered a black Avanti and shipped it overseas when he traveled outside of the U.S.
Today an impressive number of Avanti's have survived the test of time. Thanks to the solid construction of the day and their no-rust fiberglass body. A '63 or '64 R1 is valued at $10,800 in good condition and nearly double that at $20,500 if in exceptional condition according to the Cars of Particular Interest guide. A R2 can go for $12,000 to $22,800.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson
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