1981 Avanti II

Studebaker's South Bend factory closed on December 20th of 1963, though cars bearing the name of its Avanti sports coupe continued to be produced by several entrepreneurs. Initially, the vehicles were built from left-over Studebaker components and later from General Motors and Ford chassis and engines.

When Studebaker closed, the tooling and plant space was purchased by local Studebaker dealers, Nate Altman and Leo Newman, who incorporated as Avanti Motor Corporation and hand-built a small number of cars. With only slight modifications, the new company introduced the 'Avanti II' in 1965. Initially, they were powered by a 327 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, which later evolved into a 350, 400 and finally the 305. All of the Avanti II models were built on left-over Studebaker chassis until 1987.

Real-estate developer Stephen H. Blake purchased the rights to the Avanti II on October 1st of 1982. Blake made modifications to the car, which had remained unchanged since the production of the Avanti II model had begun in the mid-1960s. Changes to the Avanti II included modern plastic body-colored bumpers and rectangular headlights. The 'II' from the car's name was dropped, with subsequent cars named the 'Avanti'. Blake's attempt at producing the car continued for several years, before going into bankruptcy in February of 1986.

Michael Kelly purchased the company and relocated production to Youngstown, Ohio. The cars produced from 1987 to 1989 were based on General Motor's g-platform that underpinned the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The next model was based on GM's 'F' platform. From 2004, the cars used Ford chassis and engines.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2011
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