Factory Supercharged: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2

The Avanti delivered a lot of things during its production life, but the one thing that it couldn’t achieve was to dig Studebaker out of the financial black hole that would eventually consume the company. Today, the Avanti has developed a following, and good examples in R2 form are eagerly sought. This 1963 Avanti R2 is just such a car, and it is a spotless survivor. The owner has decided to downsize his classic car collection, and he has saved the best until last with this one. Located in Greenwood, Indiana, you will find the R2 listed for sale here on Hemmings. The owner has set a sale price of $39,900 for the Studebaker. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Boot for referring the Avanti to us.

The Studebaker Avanti and Chevrolet’s Corvette shared several interesting traits. Both featured V8 engines under the hood, while both dropped a fiberglass body onto a steel frame. From there, the two models went in vastly different directions. While the Corvette was a 2-seat sports car, the Avanti was conceived as a luxurious Grand Tourer that could seat four people in comfort. The styling is distinctive, and it seems to polarize enthusiasts. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, it is impossible to mistake it for anything else. This one is finished in a color that is imaginatively known as Avanti Gold. While the owner doesn’t specifically say so, the listing implies that the paint is original. The owner describes it as being a good 9.5/10, and that seems to be a fair assessment. There are no visible marks or defects, and the shine is pretty impressive. Of course, fiberglass panels mean no dings or dents to contend with, but there are also no visible cracks that could indicate that the fiberglass is deteriorating. The chrome and trim are equally as impressive, with no signs of physical damage or tarnishing. The listing contains some clear shots of the vehicle’s underside, and it appears to be spotlessly clean. There is no visible corrosion, and the trouble-prone hog troughs appear to be structurally sound and rust-free. The glass is in good order, and with all of the lights and lenses looking crisp and bright, the overall impression with the Avanti seems to be nothing but positive.

As befits a Grand Tourer, Studebaker designed the Avanti’s interior to feel plush and luxurious. The seats may have been upholstered in vinyl rather than the more plush leather, but they were still soft, supple, and beautifully comfortable. The owner says that he has replaced the carpet but that the rest of the interior is original. It features Color Scheme #1, which included Fawn trim on the dash and upper doors, Elk for the remaining upholstered surfaces and the seats, while the carpet is the correct combination of Fawn and Black. One of the unique characteristics of Avanti trim is that regardless of which color combination the buyer chose, the carpet always featured Black thread in its pile. There’s not much to fault inside this Studebaker, with no wear on the upholstered surfaces and no signs of any physical damage or stains. The car retains its original pushbutton radio and has no aftermarket additions. The listing indicates that everything works as it should but that the clock is not connected. Air conditioning was not available on the Avanti R2, but this car does come equipped with power windows.

Lifting the hood on the Avanti reveals Studebaker’s 289ci V8. This was available in several states of tune, and this one is the R2 version. Studebaker dropped the 289’s compression ratio from 10.25:1 to 9.0:1 for this engine but then bolted on a Paxton supercharger. These changes had a marked impact on engine power because while the normally-aspirated V8 produced 240hp, the R2 engine pumped out 290hp. The R2 engine in this car is original, and it is hooked to a 3-speed automatic transmission. The original owner also chose to order the vehicle with power steering and power brakes. Performance figures were considered to be pretty impressive for a car of this type and era. The Avanti could cover the ¼ mile in 16.1 seconds, and its top speed was verified at 135mph. This R2 is a number-matching car, and it appears that it is in sound mechanical health. The owner has recently had a dual master cylinder installed for safety. He has had the rest of the braking system serviced, the supercharger rebuilt, and new tires of the correct size fitted. The only fault that the owner identifies is a small oil leak. It isn’t clear where this is coming from, but it might require further investigation.

As a halo car for the ailing Studebaker brand, the Avanti should have been a winner. However, it was too little too late for a company that was plunging from one financial crisis to another. You begin to gain an insight into how sound the design and engineering principles for the Avanti were by the badge’s longevity. While Studebaker crashed to the ground with a resounding thud, production of the Avanti soldiered on outside of the parent company under the ownership of various other companies and individuals for several decades. The Avanti evolved during this time, but its design and engineering principles remained essentially unchanged. Today, a genuine Studebaker Avanti R2 can command some healthy but still relatively affordable prices. When you look at this car’s specifications and overall condition, its price seems highly competitive. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if it found its way to a new home very soon.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    An exotic beauty then and now. You definitely won’t see yourself on every street in this one, and it would be a standout at any Coffee & Chrome show. The saying “buy the best one you can afford” applies to this one, If you’re in the market for an Avanti! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 10
  2. DRV

    This is the iconic set up for the Avanti. It will be an interesting final price. Maybe it will be realized for what it is!

    Like 4
  3. Jason

    Stunning, especially in that color!

    Like 9
  4. Jay

    No ac with the supercharger – well that’s a buzz kill.

    Like 3
    • That AMC Guy

      The supercharger lives where the AC compressor would go, so no air conditioning in any of Studebaker’s R2 cars. Back when these were new it wasn’t that much of a drawback because AC was an expensive option and few cars were sold with it.

      Like 13
      • Sherminator

        Great point @That AMC Guy. Most cars of that era had much better ventilation, including those directional wing windows. That was our air conditioning!

        Like 13
  5. lschuc

    Very nice car from the photos, although the only drawback I see is that the engine compartment should not be painted Chevy black. Studebaker engine compartments were painted body color, and this one should be Avanti Gold color, like the rest of the car.

    Like 4
  6. Vince H

    Painted engine compartment makes me doubt that the paint is original.

    Like 4
  7. Howie Mueler

    This was the Find Of The Day this week on Hemmings with readers comments

  8. wayneC Member

    I agree completely with Ischuc, in that the engine compartment was always painted body color. Looking closely at the compartment, I can’t imagine how they painted the black without a major disassembly or engine removal, as there isn’t that much room. Having just bought my 6th Avanti, one had been painted black under the hood and it looks terrible compared to one that remains body color.

  9. Bill Pressler

    One of my favorite colors for an Avanti; subdued and similar to Corvette’s Fawn Beige. One small authenticity thing I would have to do to this car is paint the wheels the factory off-white.

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