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23k Original Miles: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1

At one time or another, most major vehicle manufacturers will introduce a “halo” model designed to entice buyers into their showrooms. For Studebaker, that car was the Avanti, but it wasn’t enough to save the company from financial collapse. With limited build numbers, they have now become a desirable classic. This 1963 model is a spotless survivor, and the time has come for it to find a new home. The Avanti is located in San Pablo, California, and has been listed for sale here on Facebook. This beauty could be yours for $22,000.

When a manufacturer chooses to introduce a “halo” car, it is a tactic that is fraught with risk. For Studebaker, the Avanti was a considerable gamble. Sales had slumped badly and occupied that uncomfortable region that could best be described as “not very many.” The original target was to sell around 20,000 Avantis per year when the model was launched in 1962. If they had achieved this target, Studebaker might well have survived. The reality was a long way short of the mark, with less than 10% of this target rolling off the line during 1962. By the time Studebaker drew the curtain on Avanti production in December of 1963, a total of 4,647 cars had been built. This 1963 example presents very well and is being offered for sale by its 3rd owner. With fiberglass body panels, there is no external rust to consider. It is finished in Avanti Black, and while the owner states that the trim and chrome are original, he doesn’t indicate whether the same is true of the paint. However, it does hold an impressive shine. There is no mention of structural rust issues, so we have to hope that the vulnerable “hog troughs” are free from problems. The wheels aren’t original, but they do suit the character of the vehicle well. Combine the glossy paint with glistening chrome and flawless glass, and this Avanti is a classic that makes a bold statement.

Apart from replacement seat covers, the Avanti’s interior is original and unmolested. Once again, this presents extremely well, with no visible issues to report. It is impressive that the White trim pieces exhibit no stains or yellowing, while the headliner and carpet are perfect. There is a cover over the dash, so it isn’t clear whether any problems are lurking beneath. The original radio is intact, while the interior also features power windows. The owner supplies no engine photos but does provide a good amount of information. The Avanti had been sitting for around 30-years, but it is now roadworthy once again. Under the hood is the R1 version of the 289ci V8, which should be pumping out 240hp. This power is fed to the rear wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission, while power steering and power front disc brakes are standard features. The car is a numbers-matching classic, and the seller says that it runs and drives exceptionally well. He also indicates that it has a genuine 23,000 miles showing on its odometer. However, he doesn’t say whether he holds evidence to verify this claim.

The Studebaker Avanti turned out to be a great car that suffered from bad timing. Buyer confidence in the Studebaker brand was at an all-time low when the car was launched. Various media sources indicated that the company was in financial trouble. Hence, buyers were reluctant to hand over the cash for a vehicle that might become an automotive orphan if Studebaker did go under. Sadly, that is precisely what happened, but it didn’t spell the end for the Avanti. It soldiered on bravely after being produced by various companies through until 2006. There is something to be said for owning one of those original Studebaker-built cars, and that’s what is being offered with this vehicle. It isn’t the cheapest Avanti on the market today, but it is a long way from being the most expensive. Pristine examples can easily fetch $30,000, although far higher figures aren’t that rare. That might make this one worth a closer look because the price does seem to be very competitive.


  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    The Avanti is a sexy design. But for all the reasons Adam cites, it just came too little too late. And rarity doesn’t seem to translate into value in this case.

    I see a couple of them here at car shows in Tampa, and they really are nice looking cars.

    Like 2
  2. Vince H

    The wheels were optional. Very few had them back then. They reproduce them and are now seen more often. If this is good as it looks it will sell fast.

    Like 6
    • Douglas

      Vince H
      On the wheels of the 63 Avanti. Those are pretty close, but they are not the reproduction wheels you can buy. The spinner looks pretty close though. If you want to see a pic I have a set on my 63 Avanti. Email me

    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Yep – they did some road tests in the magazine’s in 1963/64 with the optional wheels. They tested a R2 Lark Daytona and it makes me want a set for my Daytona.

  3. Poppy

    I can’t tell from the small photos if those are Halibrand wheels on there. If so they were a rare and pricey option at the time.

    Like 4
  4. Joe Haska

    Because of B/F and a gentleman in my neighborhood that is an Avanti owner and National Club Member, I have become a fan and at some point would like to be an owner. This car seems to check all the boxes if you want one. For the money and the fun factor, I don’t see how you could go wrong.

    Like 4
  5. Rixx56 Member

    The wheels’ offset appears odd to me-
    but I’d certainly drive this… alot.

    Like 3
  6. JBD

    A very rare and iconic car. Probably a decent investment also.

    Like 3
  7. JoeBob

    Beautiful Avanti. Seems like a fair price. If I was closer I’d go take a look.

    Like 1
  8. Douglas

    Vince H
    On the wheels of the 63 Avanti. Those are pretty close, but they are not the reproduction wheels you can buy. The spinner looks pretty close though. If you want to see a pic I have a set on my 63 Avanti. Email me

  9. Charles E. Kinzer

    The Halibrand wheels are a VERY rare option on these. But the magnesium in them has possibly become brittle with age and there are those that, for safety, won’t drive on old magnesium wheels. As mentioned, a modern reproduction has been offered. And there is some interesting history about the black paint. Being fiberglass, and typically with some minor waviness, those imperfections showed up more with black. Ian Fleming (James Bond author) had an Avanti that was black so the car was seen a lot and apparently the waviness was commented on some. Sherwood Egbert, President of Studebaker, had black stricken from the choice of colors. But you could still special order it if you wanted.

  10. george mattar

    I had the pleasure of driving a mint 1964 R1 model about 10 years ago. What a car. Less, too much too late. I believe if Studebaker didn’t pay their employees so much money and Sherwood Egbert did not die, the company might be around today. They certainly built better cars than GM, Ford or Chrysler.

    Like 1
    • Charles E. Kinzer

      Actually, most of the Studebaker Avanti (and I own one) was developed using what they say are “things from the parts bin”.
      The frame was from the Studebaker Lark convertible. It has kingpin steering. The fiberglass body was because they couldn’t avoid the cost of dies to stamp steel and it was faster to get to market. They used their aging 289 because they couldn’t afford to develop a new “big block” sort of engine. While they had some innovations over the years, their small size was the source of their doom and not really anything else. The “Big Three” with more sales had far more money, as a percent of sales, for more engineering and more dealership support. Studebaker, founded in 1852, tried valiantly eventually acquiring other companies but they couldn’t cover the auto losses. One of the companies was Paxton (superchargers) and its president Andy Granatelli, so they could get Granatelli to lead the power improvements to the old 289. In the end, it was a typical story of being “shaken out” of a competitive market by far larger players.

      Like 1
  11. John Moreton

    I had one of those in 1966 thru 1974, I sold it to a friend who restored it at the time and sold it to buy his house. Same color but interior was red. Had a lot of problems with it, wipers ripped out of the fiberglass, steering problems, broken motor mounts, starting problems. Did 135 mph once, it could really move.
    Still enjoyed driving it and was sorry to see it go. Did several long trips, once to Florida and back. Once to Yorktown VA and back.

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