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4-Speed Project: 1963 Studebaker Avanti

The Avanti was Studebaker’s new personal luxury car in 1963-64. It had a fiberglass body with styling by famed designer Raymond Loewy, yet production problems prevented the car from reaching its sales projections. If things had turned out differently, could the Avanti have saved Studebaker? It’s doubtful as the goal was only 20,000 copies a year, but it was a car cool enough to be replicated for the balance of the century. This ’63 edition with the R1 V8 (non-surcharged) runs but needs a lot of cosmetic attention. Located in Dallas, Texas, this project Studebaker is available here on eBay for $11,500 (Buy It Now or Make Offer). Thanks for the neat find, Larry D!

As the story goes, the concept for the Avanti was developed on a cocktail napkin in early 1961 by then Studebaker president Sherwood Egbert. A mere 18 months later, the car was in production, a record feat even for an underfunded company like Studebaker-Packard. While the body was all-new, the Avanti drew mechanically from the existing parts bin, largely the compact Lark. For that reason, production costs should have been lower. But one setback led to another and just 4,647 Avanti’s were built before Studebaker ceased automobile production in the U.S. at the end of calendar 1963. Some activity moved to the company’s other plant in Canada, but that was short-lived and didn’t include the Avanti.

The seller’s car is one of 2,282 built in 1963 as an R1 (not supercharged). Another 519 copies were R2 models with the McCulloch supercharger applied to Studebaker’s 289 cubic inch V8 that could also be had in the Grand Turismo. We’re told that this car has never been garaged and has spent the last 59 years outdoors, which would explain the physical condition of the automobile. The odometer is nearing 100,000 miles for the second time.

Since the body isn’t metal, it hasn’t rusted but the undercarriage has, with holes in some places and crust in others. However, the seller believes it’s solid overall and worthy of restoring. The driver’s door is sagging and some fiberglass chips are missing at the front of the hood. This Avanti was finished in gold paint when it left the factory, but sometime since then it was re-sprayed in white and the finished looks “alligatored all over” as the seller puts it. The interior has been much given up the ghost as well.

The car does run and stop, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily roadworthy though the seller used it as such for a brief time. Everything important seems to work except for the radio and factory air conditioning. This Avanti has a 4-speed manual transmission which likely puts it in the minority of the cars that were assembled, but production numbers for transmissions seem to be available.


  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I suppose a new frame could be sourced or this one repaired. A good upholstery shop could do wonders with the interior. To me a car like this is in the category of restomod. There is a company not to far from me that does rear turbocharger modifications that boost horse power considerably. That’s the way I would go with this particular car, paint it any color your heart desires.
    Yes I can visualize this car with new white leather interior and with Candy Apple Green paint, dual turbo chargers burning up the pavement in my neck of the woods. that’s my vision, What’s yours?

    God Bless America

    Like 2
    • Steve Procter

      Please don’t do anything not original to this car. It is a great example of an R1. I would jump on it in a heart beat if it was an R2 or R3. Keep it original!

  2. Vince H

    This will be one you will have to love since there is no money to be made on it. There is no such thing as a cheap Avanti

    Like 5
  3. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Vince is correct, especially if the steel body supports [known as
    hog troughs] need replacing with stainless versions, because the body has to be lifted off the chassis. But this will also make it far easier to make the frame repairs.

    This car is worth saving, as it’s fairly rare. Few 4-speed Avantis were equipped with Factory A/C. And while it’s not the R-2 supercharged motor, it’s still got the R-1 high performance Studebaker engine, and with the 4-speed transmission, 4-barrel carb and dual exhausts, the car is quite fast.

    Like 4

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