The Studebaker National Museum is currently celebrating a major addition to their collections. The museum recently received two steel-bodied Studebaker prototypes designed by Raymond Loewy, who designed the original Avanti as well as several other Studebaker-built automobiles.
Somehow, these prototypes survived the scrap heap when the Studebaker Corporation closed its doors in South Bend, Indiana. Initially, the cars remained with the newly-formed (and South Bend-based) company, Avanti Motors. They were on display in South Bend's Century Center, then left with Avanti Motors when the company moved its operations to Youngstown, Ohio.
Little was heard of the prototypes after that move. Individuals reported seeing the prototypes in four different states. Nothing definite was known about their whereabouts until 2010.
The cars have been referred to as 'Avanti prototypes' but they are more correctly identified as Avanti-themed prototypes for sedan-based automobiles.
Both cars were constructed in France by coachbuilder Pichon-Parat and based on stock Studebaker chassis and drivetrain. The car's body was built entirely by hand, with some parts sourced from Studebaker's parts bins.
This example is a Notchback Sedan. All windows except the drivers are made from Plexiglass. It is the only one that will roll down.
In the early 1960s, Sherwood H. Egbert became president of the automotive division of Studebaker-Packard Corp. He quickly began work on establishing an all new lineup of automobiles. He hired the Brooks Stevens Studio and Raymond Loewy/William Snaith Studio to design these new models.
Loewy had presented the initial design for the Avanti and would later task John Ebstein and Bob Andrews to create a two- and four-door version that was both sporty and a family sedan. After six weeks of work, the team had created two models, a notchback style and a fastback design. One-eighth scale clay models were created and taken to New York where Loewy, Ebstein, Andrews and Kellogg perfected the design. One side of the clay model was a two-door design while the other side was a four-door version. Once the teams work was complete, the models were cast in plaster, painted and sent back to Paris. In Paris, Ebstein created full size slides to aide in the approval process. The work was approved by Egbert and later by the Studebaker Corp. board of directors in South Bend, Indiana. A deadline of April 12, 1962, was given to create the first prototype - the notchback - with the work given to Pichon-Parat of France. The fastback model was scheduled to be completed by October.
Egbert, after seeing the notchback prototype, was excited and worked to get it into production. The board members, however, doubted the success of the car. These two designs never made it past the prototype stages, though both of the steel-bodied prototypes have survived. By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2010
This Fastback Sedan Prototype is one of two built to study the feasibility of a series of Studebaker automobiles utilizing the Avanti's styling themes. This example is a 'three door,' with one door on one side and two on the other. It was built this [Read More...]