1 of 100: 1985 Avanti II

The Avanti was the car that refused to die. After Studebaker suspended production of the Avanti in late 1963 as part of its extended wake, interest in continuing the car surfaced. Two former Studebaker dealers bought rights to the name and manufacturing space and brought the car back to life a couple of years later, using a lot of Chevrolet components. But it still looked like an Avanti. Five sets of owners would continue production of the car through 2006. The seller’s car is from the second ownership period and saw just 100 copies made for 1985. This one looks to be in excellent condition and is located in Placerville, California. Available here on craigslist, the asking price is $18,500. Thanks, rex m, for sending this tip our way!

The Rise of the Avanti began when the Altman brothers and Leo Newman, Studebaker dealers and diehards, founded the Avanti Motor Corp. and bought the Avanti’s production rights. From 1965-83, they built the largest number of new Avanti’s, now called the Avanti II, since the Studebaker days: 2,526 units (an average of 133 cars per year). The second ownership group managed 589 cars between 1983-85, including 100 in 1985, the model year of the seller’s car. After three more groups and 2006 came along, a total of 4,129 post-Studebaker Avanti cars had been made, about 10 percent fewer than Studebaker itself did in 1962-63.

Seldom were two model years of the Avanti II the same because different chassis and drivetrain combinations were being used. For 1985, the underpinnings of the Avanti II came from the Chevy Monte Carlo, as did the 305 cubic inch V-8 and Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. By 1985, the Avanti was starting to look different, using rectangular headlights in place of the round units as on the original Studebakers. They did away with chrome bumpers and went with plastic fascia materials.

We’re told the seller’s 1985 model has just 54,000 miles on with zero rust from years of habitation in Arizona and California. Everything on the outside of the car looks pretty tidy, including the factory aluminum wheels. But we’re only given a few pictures of the exterior of the car, so you can’t totally be sure. The interior is equally nice and better accessorized than the original Avanti was. For example, a greater use of leather materials is found and the addition of a power moon roof and Bose stereo system is present. The seller says that everything works as it should.

The engine should be the Chevy 305 V-8 and – since the seller says it has the 4-barrel carb – output should be 190 hp. Not a rocket ship by any means, but sufficient power for cruising once you get up to 60 mph or more. The fortunate side to using later model GM components is that parts are more readily available than Studebaker’s from nearly 60 years ago. Hagerty suggests that a 1985 Avanti II should be worth close to $20,000 in excellent condition. Less than what the originals go for, especially the R2 supercharged editions from 1963-64. The seller indicates a willingness to trade for a classic car, hot rod or even a smaller motor home. So you can relive the Avanti dream without breaking the bank!


  1. Sherminator

    Looks like a great version of that era’s Avanti. I do wonder if something is hiding under that clutter in the back seat or if the owner was just too lazy to clean up before taking pictures. A little TLC and patience with picture taking can pay off significantly.

    Like 13
  2. rex miller

    About the same price as decent 65-66 Mustang coupe…

  3. Jasper

    Nice to see one without GM wire wheel COVERS and whitewalls.

    Like 5
  4. JP

    Too expensive. You can pick up originals at this price, or less occasionally. The post-Studebaker Avantis will never have the panache or desirability of the earlier models.

    Like 1
  5. Steve Clinton

    It still looks good 35 years later, IMHO.

    Like 4
  6. Steve Clinton

    The seller posted ridiculous photos of the car. Why not take more exterior pics…or is he hiding something?

    • Dave

      Happens so often that it’s nauseating- lazy sellers 😒

      Like 1
  7. JMB#7

    I remember seeing one of these run at Mid Ohio Escort Radar Warning 24 hour race. We were camped out on the back stretch. It looked perfect in race trim & wheels, only slightly different than stock, but just enough to make it more aggressive. As I recalled, it held its own and was among the front runners until about 2:00 or 3:00 AM when it experience some sort of failure (maybe transmission, but cannot recall). I had been a bit of an Avanti fan prior to that, but that car & race really turned me into a serious fan of the Avanti II.

    Like 1
  8. JMB#7

    I hope it is OK to post a few links here, regarding the Avanti GT at Mid Ohio
    OK, so it was way off from stock, but that is how I like them.

    Like 2
  9. Phlathead Phil

    Watched the movie “Karate Kid.” The movie has a red one rolling through in one of the segments.

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