BF Exclusive: 1963 Studebaker Avanti

Round Headlights

The Avanti was a short lived, but futuristic car for Studebaker – featuring a fiberglass body and front disc brakes. It was brought to market quickly and died almost as fast. Even with such special model in their lineup, Studebaker was forced to close up shop as a result of dwindling sales. The concept did live on for decades in the hands of other owners, but these early cars are the ones to get. This particular Avanti was found by one of our readers in a basement garage. Greg L has already done a lot of work, but admits that much more is needed.

Running V8

The engine runs and the odometer shows about 75k miles. Power is provided by Studebaker’s own 289 V8. There were two engine options available when this car was new – R1 and R2. The R1 came with a four-barrel carburetor as found here and the R2 featured a supercharger. This car is well outfitted with power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning! I’m not sure why the cooling fan is sitting on the air cleaner, but the next owner will want to get that reinstalled right away.

Worn Paint

The Avanti’s shape was very unique when the car was released in 1962. In fact, fiberglass had to be used to form the body because the complex curves were hard to stamp out of steel. At first, body construction was outsourced, but quality control problems forced Studebaker to do it at home. The most distinguishing feature of the design is probably the front area where the grill would normally reside. Without a grill, some duct work was used underneath to aid with the cooling.

Clean Interior

This car has been off the road since 1984 so it needs a good cleaning and lots of sorting. There weren’t a ton of these built (in comparison to other American cars), so finding a complete and undamaged project like this can be a challenge. There are a lot of Avanti enthusiasts out there though so finding parts and technical assistance shouldn’t be a problem.

Unique Design

This American GT has an almost European flair to it! It’s going to need some work before any Grand Touring will be possible, but I’m sure it will all be worth it. The car is located in Durham, North Carolina and yes, the hood is included. You can contact Greg via email if interested.

Thanks for listing this with us Greg! Someone is going to have a very nice car once they get it all cleaned up. If you have a classic like this that you are thinking about selling, please consider having it featured here on Barn Finds!

UPDATE: Greg just let us know that the car sold within 24 hours!

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Comments

  1. Car Guy

    Wow, the dash is in amazing shape. Seats look like they could be saved too. Cool color combination. If the hood is undamaged this will make a nice project.

  2. Dave Wright

    These are fun cars that were built by several companies from the orignal jigs after Studebakers demise. The later ones used Chevrolet power trains. I passed on one last month that was for sale in Nampa Idaho……near me for 1200.00 it wasn’t as nice as this one but worth doing. The dash was out of it and all the wires were dangling…….wasn’t up to chasing one wires.

    • Haydon Worters

      Hey do you know how who I can send an email regarding some barnfinds I have found. I found a 58 studebaker champion with 74 original miles on it.

  3. Joe

    The car is said to run. Does it drive also? Through all the automatic transmission gears? If not, this can be an expensive repair.

    • Jeff DeWitt

      That transmission is basically the same as a Ford from the same period, not that big a deal.

  4. boxdin

    These look better with time.

  5. RayT Member

    Looks very salvageable to me. Body in decent shape (and of course no rust!) and almost everything there. I’m sure the clubs could help with any missing bits.

    I remember my father and I riding in a dealer demo at a Studebaker dealer in Pasadena, CA the first night they went on sale. Wasn’t as jazzy to me as our Austin-Healey, but it was still fun and fast. Later, I became friends with one of the original design team, and heard lots of interesting stories from him….

    This is another one of those “if I had the money, space, tools and time” cars for me. I appreciate the design even more than I did back in ’63. Gotta envy the next owner!

    Like 1
  6. Dolphin Member

    I remember when these first came out. They were a big deal in the car world, altho I don’t think they sold too well because they were pretty rare on the road. I think only around 9,000 originals were made by Studebaker.

    I remember that a car-guy friend had a ride in a new one and was very excited, but IIRC some of the road tests said they were basically an interesting looking car, but not great handling. I think it was the supercharged versions that got the most attention.

    The price asked here looks right, since the car is going to need some parts and work due to the long layoff, and then paint. And the drivetrain is a bit of an unknown.

    The SCM Guide says regular 1963 and ’64 R1 cars have sold at auction recently at a median sale price of $19,800, and the supercharged cars have sold at a median price of $32K. Those would have been very nice cars. Once the work and paint are done on this car someone could have a nice Avanti without being underwater.

  7. Fred W.

    Apparently the number one thing to check out on these are the “hog troughs”. Not sure exactly what a hog trough is but I surmise its structural and part of the frame. Severely rusted ones mean get out the wallet.

    • San Jose Scot

      The Hog Trough is what holds the body to the frame. Not a technically challenging repair only time consuming. The body needs to be lifted off the frame. Some replacement hog troughs only require that the body be lifted and some require the body be removed.

      If you think they look good from the outside, the inside is even better.

  8. Paul Bellefeuille

    One up the road from me in NH.. Was inside..now outside.
    https://nh.craigslist.org/cto/5617855374.html

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Yes, I was just about to post that I pass this car on my daily commute with $9500 written on the windshield. Looks much nicer in the CL pics than it does out among the junk. The guy isn’t trying too hard to sell it with it being tucked away and kind of hard to see.

  9. G 1

    Same frame as the Lark

    • Jeff DeWitt

      Well… a modified Lark convertible frame.

      • Kent Pearson

        So Jeff, You seem to know these beasts very well. What are the chances of using the original frame and one of these to build a convertible version? Much as I am enamoured of the roof line on the Avanti, my next car has to be a convert. Haven’t had one since Mustang went. Even if I went underwater, I would be thrilled to drive one. Like that purple one that turned up on BF but not.

  10. Roselandpete

    I fell in love with these cars when they first came out.

  11. Jeff DeWitt

    That could be a REALLY good deal, although as the Polous dictum says “There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Avanti.”

    • John

      Unless it’s a Lotus.

  12. Rick

    I’d stay away from these old Stude Avanti’s, the later small block Chev powered Avanti II’s are way ahead in terms of performance and reliability, just to name a couple of things.

    • Jeff DeWitt

      Actually the Stude engine is more reliable than the Chevy motor. No timing chain, plus it’s got a forged crank and rods, and solid lifters. Plus when you go to a car show and people see your engine it’s not just another bellybutton motor.

  13. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I’m not THAT far away if someone needs me to look at it. You’re going to have to tell me what to look for, though.

  14. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Always under the impression that the later cars with Chevy V8’s were the ones that sat too high for the car’s ride height, like they could have used a coil or two less when the chassis was used, aGM as I remember.

  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Don’t forget the R3 and R4’s…..check the Bonneville records these motors and cars held until the 1990’s….

  16. Rich.

    The fan and viscous Drive being off is not rocket science to figure out, the Water Pump was being replaced and hopefully NOT the Engine being removed for a Rebuild.
    The hood being off does make you wonder though.

    Studebaker V8’s are one of the most durable and dependable Engines ever built with a much stronger Bottom End than any small block GM ever built.

    Gear drive Camshaft, Solid lifters, Forged Crank, Aluminum Cam Gear, what is not to love?

  17. moosie Craig

    Had a good friend that had one, Black with a tan interior, he loved that car, he’d sit in the garage on a lawn chair with a cold beer in his hand and just admire the car, yep, he did drive it too. I wonder what happened to his.

    Like 1
  18. Graham Line

    Russ Lovell said: “… Always under the impression that the later cars with Chevy V8’s were the ones that sat too high for the car’s ride height … ”

    If you look at the front end, there’s a couple inches more body on the Avanti II between the fender line and the top of the front wheel arch. No idea what the comparative handling qualities were.

    While the Stude V8 was a good engine for its time, the Chevy smallblock is considerably lighter.

  19. Loco Mikado

    Being lightweight does not make an engine better. Back in the day (1950’s-1960’s) every small block Chevy V8 engine with over 80-90,000 miles had egg shaped cylinders and required an overbore and needed a rebuild. The Studebaker or Rambler V8 with the same mileage just usually required a quick hone job to get rid of the ridge and glaze, no boring oversize needed. It was the rings that wore out on the Studebaker & Rambler V8’s, not both the rings & bore wearing out on the small block Chevy V8’s. And the Studebaker V8 could put out as much or more HP than the comparable displacement Chevy V8.

    • Jeff DeWitt

      Plus the Stude engine was a lot stronger. You could (and people have) take a reasonably well maintained stock Stude V8 that had spent 100,000 miles pushing a Lark wagon around, put a supercharger on it and drive on (much faster!). Doing the same thing to a similar Chevy motor would more than likely result in sitting alongside the road with a puddle of oil under the car and a destroyed engine.

      • Dave Wright

        But in a couple of weeks the Chevy would be back on the road…….not waiting for parts. My dad would commonly get 500,000 miles on a good Premium 350 GMC 4 bolt main engine. They also had forged internals. I have seen strong cross hatch marks in GM engines with over 300,000 miles. Then he would run the truck into the shop…..in a week he would have it back on the road with a brand new engine including a new warranty for less cost than a Stude short block.

  20. Vince Habel

    This car has a/c. There were 9 R3 cars built but no R4 Avantis. A factory R3 is a very powerful engine. All the R3 engines were built by Granatelli.

  21. Jeff DeWitt

    Kent Pearson I wouldn’t try to turn a Studebaker Avanti into a convertible. Studebaker used the Lark convertible frame because the fiberglass body didn’t have the strength of a steel body.

    If you want an Avanti convertible they ARE out there, Avanti motors built some and in the long run it would probably be cheaper and certainly easier to get one of those than to attempt to convert a Studebaker Avanti.

  22. Kent Pearson

    wow!! Tanks, I”ll keep lookinng,

  23. hans grafftenberg

    I bought on last fall out of an aircraft hangar from the original owner. 78,000 miles R1. Everything works, even the A/C. I bought it to flip but quickly fell in love with it after driving it! Great cars.

  24. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Greg just let me know that the Studebaker has already sold. That took less than 24 hours!

  25. Chris A.

    Looking at the Avanti’s big rear glass reminds me of a Jensen. That said, both the Jensen and the Avanti were designed as true 4 seat sporty cruisers. My reading about the Avanti indicates that handling suffered from excessive understeer. The 289 Studebaker engine, although tough, but heavy, was also restricted by intake and exhaust porting that needed to be opened up. But supercharging would have really helped that problem. What would not have helped sell these was the Buick Riviera arriving within months of the Avanti for the same upscale market. With the emphasis on the design, but with restricted resources and time the Avanti had a history somewhat like the Cord by displaying a unique concept, but needing further development. The Avanti, Riviera and Cord were all designs way ahead of their time. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings to have one of each in my garage. I’m glad to read someone has taken it on to restore.

  26. GEOFFREY GOGLE

    what a nice presentation//–lots of good advice to potential studebaker owners–great engine–great car–great company//–glad to see it sold so quickly–geoff gogle

  27. Jeff DeWitt

    Dave Wright But the thing is the Stude wouldn’t have broken to begin with, and with the Stude engine you still have something unique under the hood, not just another Chevy engine.

    I’ve got nothing against the Chevy motor, and that premium engine you mention isn’t a regular Chevy motor (like you’d find in a Avanti II), it’s actually like the GM engines Studebaker used in 65 and 66, heavy duty engines meant to be almost as good as the Stude engines that were no longer available.

    Of course you’ll never have a timing chain failure on a Studebaker engine either.

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