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
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
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
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.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
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.
Skinner and the editors at Collector Car Market Review
Back to Avanti page 1
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.
Current Values: 1963
Avanti page 1