1963 Studebaker Avanti: Wide-Eyed Luxury

Studebaker Avanit R1

I’m not sure why I’m fascinated by the Studebaker Avanti, but I know examples like this 1963 R1 here on eBay with zero bids always stop me cold. It may be the polarizing styling, with those Beetle-like headlights peering out from behind two front wings that serve no purpose, near as I can figure. But somehow it all works, like a funky modernist house with odd angles and shapes that come together to form a distinctive architectural gem. I know not everyone can get behind the looks of these stylish Studes, but I’d love to own one – though I might have to skip today’s eBay feature. You see, the seller mentions the frame has rust, which is unusual considering the rest of the car appears pretty straight. It could be a sign of some poor storage or long-time exposure to salt (the car is located in Illinois, an area that is no stranger to snow), so if you like this one, I’d take up the seller’s offer of an available spare chassis as a separate deal – or buy a different car altogether! What would you do?

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Comments

  1. fred

    Probably best to RUN from this one. There are torque boxes under the car, called “hog troughs” by aficionados, that are notorious for rusting from the inside out. Find a rust free example instead.

    • RogueInLA

      Since it’s just a Studebaker convertible frame (wagon frames can also be used) it’s not really a big deal to find a rust free frame to put under it. For a time, when they were building Avanti IIs, and ran out of frames, they were buying rust free frames in the Southwest to refurbish to put new cars on. We used to go to South Bend to pick up parts, and would go thru the Avanti “Manufacturing plant” such as it was. Wasn’t exactly a beehive of activity tho.

  2. Mark E

    Was going to say what fred said. Also, the reason the body seems straight is that Avantis have fiberglass bodies. Finding rust on this car would be as rare as rust on a Vette!

    • SoCal Car Guy

      Rust is very common in second (’63-’67) and third (’68-’82) Corvettes, both in the frame (particularly toward the rear, where the main rails and rear section are joined) and in the “cage,” the steel inner body structure onto which the fiberglass exterior panels were mounted. I’m sure that a rust belt Avanti could suffer the same inner body structure rust out that a older Corvette can.

  3. MH

    They all have fiberglass bodies. The floors will rust out quick on these. Nice cars but not many people care about them. They were better in the late 70’s when they had a chevy 327.

    • RogueInLA

      After Studebaker ended production in South Bend, in 1964, they ALL had Chevy engines in the Avanti IIs

  4. JW

    Strange little cars IMO, when I checked out the pictures on ebay I thought something looks familiar here, Mendota is the farm town I moved from in 2000 to Missouri. I owned a farmette 2 miles north of this town on highway 251. Yes unless they stored it every winter that car seen more salt than a baked potato or slice of water melon.

  5. charlie Member

    One of the cars on MY list, but, one without terminal frame rust. The early ones are pure Studebaker, and if it has the Paxton supercharger, they could move, and handled pretty well for the time. Door handles inside, knobs, etc. all shared with standard Studebakers of the time, so can be found. If the separate chassis is solid, and the interior is good, and the fiberglass body is good, and you have time, or money, you could make a nice driver out of it

  6. Tirefriar

    Fred, you’re spot on about the torque boxes however they can be replaced. Replacing these will require lifting the body but it’s not an impossible task. Not too long ago I looked at buying an Avanti II with a Chevy 400. The car was too far away and the seller was not very cooperative. So, instead I concentated on checking off my motorcycle wish list – almost done. After that I may go back to looking at one of these….

  7. Joey

    Of the Studebaker Avantis – the 1963 R1 is the least desirable. It was the ‘base model’ – although this one seems like it has the automatic (common) and factory A/C (not quite as common). The Rarest of the Studebaker Avantis (production anyway) was the 1964 R2 – with the supercharger. I like Avantis – I will probably own one someday – however I am biased towards the later Avanti II’s so that I could put a much more modern GM powerplant in one without a lot of major surgery. They are also worth less and more often customized so that I wouldn’t be hacking up an original car. (Something I’d rather not do). It isn’t uncommon to see a running, driving, original or close to it 1963 R1 in the neighborhood of 8-10 grand depending on condition. If the frame has rust, and you went the route of swapping onto the other chassis the guy has, you’d be into this Avanti for a whole lot more than 8-10 grand with a 5K starting price. In short – too high an asking price and too poor condition if it can’t be salvaged on the existing frame.

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