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One of the biggest promoters of Studebaker in the early 1960s was Andy Granatelli, who used an R3 experimental variation of the production 289 in a highly modified Avanti at the Daytona Speed Weeks to establish 29 new records. This fete whetted the appetites of the journalists in attendance and volumes of positive ink were penned on the newest product from South Bend.

Despite a superb advertising campaign with a catch line, “Performance car... for first nighters”, which expressed both the speed and luxury available, combined with the kudos from the motoring press, just 3,834 customers could be rounded up to buy a new Avanti for the model year 1963, its first season.

A few minor details were added to the 1964 version, most notably the use of rectangular headlight bezels introduced shortly after the model year started. Improved interior appointments included the use of wood-grain appliques on the dash board and console, plus smoother more rounded control knobs on the dashboard.

Unfortunately, the Avanti came too late to help the ailing company.  At the end of December 1963, just a few months into the 1964 model year, Studebaker closed down its South Bend, Indiana, assembly plant, shifting all future production to their Canadian facilities. There were no plans for Avanti to make the move, so after just 809 were produced, Avanti was gone.

The Avanti fits perfectly in this "Mad Men" shot The Avanti was loaded with features.


 Unlike some cars that become orphans, the Avanti was treasured by its owners. From the moment they went out of production clubs and groups started to gather to celebrate these unique vehicles. Curiously, despite their positive appeal, their prices have lagged behind other sports coupes from this era.  Being a pillared coupe made it far less attractive than the mid-year Corvette String Rays, and the limited power options left it behind Ford’s Mustang, which came on scene about the time Avanti left. 

 One of the great mysteries of the collector car world is the relatively low value of all Avantis.  With all it’s attributes, it doesn make sense.  The Avanti even has a strong international following.  Values have slowly and steadily risen over the years, but barely moved during the big muscle car run. You can get in a #3, low option, base motor car for well under $20,000, and even a #1 tops out in the thirties.  Add another 30% or so for the R-2, still quite a bargain.  Short term, we look for these values to hold steady, regardless of the overall collector car market.  Eventually, though, they’ve got to break out.



With the use of fiberglass bodies there is nothing to worry about in regards to panel rust-out. However, when checking out an  Avanti there are several areas that should be given a close look. First and foremost is the chassis, as winter weather and corrosive materials can wreak havoc here.  As with early Corvettes, careful inspection of the body for repairs and stress cracks should be completed both outside and inside all panels. Look for little things like water leaks or staining around the windshield and backglass.  Desirable options are air (R-1 only) and power windows. 

In addition to the R1 and R2 versions of the Studebaker 289 cid V8, there was also a two-barrel edition that was available in other Studebaker models and some of these could have found their way into an Avanti over the years. Fortunately, during 1963 and 1964, the Avanti engines could be ordered in most other passenger car models including the Challenger, Commander, Daytona and the Gran Turismo Hawk, so there is a fair supply of them.   While many of the Avanti’s other mechanical bits came right from the corporate parts bin, some of its specific parts can be difficult to find. 

 Despite being out of production for over 40 years, there is a strong support network for Avanti owners in securing both mechanical parts and some trim and body items. There are several owner groups and Avantis are most welcome in the Studebaker Drivers Club, one of the largest single-marque organizations in the world.


 Beginning in 1970, several entrepreneurs have attempted to keep the Avanti mystique alive.  Mostly hand built, they used modern General Motor's drivetrains and were equipped with all the expected amenities of a luxury car.  Even these have value in the collector car world, particularly the ones built through the early seventies.

 P. Skinner and the editors at Collector Car Market Review

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This profile first appeared in the May 2004 issue of Collector Car & Truck Market Guide.  This article contains additional information from a Market Snapshot in the June 2008 issue of Collector Car Market Review.  (C) Copyright 2004-2014 VMR International, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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