Just Needs Cleaned Up: 1989 Avanti Convertible

When Studebaker debuted the Avanti in 1962, it was a ground breaking and advanced design. Sadly, Studebaker closed their South Bend factory in ’63, so there really weren’t many of these cars built. Well, at least that many that were built by Studebaker. The name and design passed through several hands, seeing several revisions before ending up with Michael Kelly (who ended up being arrested in 2006, but that’s a story for a different time). In 1987, John Cafaro owned the Avanti name and was building, coupes, convertibles and a 4 door version. This dusty convertible was built during the Cafaro years and other than needing a good cleaning looks to be in good shape. You can find it here on eBay in Austin, Texas with a BIN of $20k.

While these have never garnered the kind of attention that Corvettes and Mustangs do, there’s a dedicated and passionate group of collectors out there willing to spend big money on them. As it goes with most things, said serious collectors want the unadulterated original, but there’s a market for these later cars as well. While they don’t bring the same kind of money as the early cars do, they do have the advantage of being powered by a more modern Chevrolet engine and they make use of many Chevy parts, sourced from the Caprice.

While it might not be all Studebaker, there are plenty of perks from being based on the Caprice. Parts are easy to find and fairly affordable. The 305 V8 isn’t the most powerful engine out there, but there are upgrade options for it that can definitely improve performance.

The seller states that this car is in excellent condition, but it’s kind of hard to tell if that’s really the case from their photos. It would be nice to see it cleaned up and to see what the underside looks like. The seller also states that they are firm on the $20k asking price, but they offer the option to make an offer. Perhaps they aren’t that firm on their price? With out better photos and more information, it’s hard to justify their asking. So do you think under the dust is a pristine Avanti just waiting to be cleaned up and enjoyed?


  1. Metoo

    Geez! Was it too much trouble to at least get the crap off the floorboards?

    • Nojuan

      it appears the crap on the floor is for a repair inside the drivers door, looks like the door panel is removed and a horseshoe clip tool is there to remove inside handle along with DIY parts boxes

  2. Dick Johnson

    Lessee. A roll of duct tape, crimp connectors, a flashlight, a schematic on the dash, and a door handle jimmy. Wha’s goin’ on here, Lucy?

    • DonC

      I got this one……The Guy is right in the middle of whatever repair he’s doing and “Lucy” the wife comes out and screams at him, “you said you’d get rid of the POS, now get it advertised or else!”. So he yells fine, snaps some shots and puts it online.

  3. Ralph Terhune

    I never saw the attraction in these cars. I always thought they were ugly and from the side profile, they looked like they were driving in reverse because of the shape of the fenderwells.

    • TriPowerVette

      @Ralph Terhune – You were wrong. They are a stunningly sculpted, instant classic, the day they rolled off the assembly line. They were vastly advanced of their time. The shape set land speed records that still stand. The car occupies places of honor in various museums of modern and industrial art – not just automotive museums.

      I had a friend with whose automotive taste you might agree: he told me that he thought my Jaguar XK-Es were ugly. He said he thought they looked like a fish (a carp, specifically) sucking a lemon. Somehow, he never had a problem with the 1970 Coronet.

      It didn’t seem to bother him that there was one on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, and one in The Smithsonian.

      Good for both you and him. Buck almost universal acclaim. Go your own way.

  4. Luke Fitzgerald

    No way

  5. Mike

    In Federal Way, WA, they were selling these cars in a strip mall who’s main business was in-car mobile phones. There was room for only one car in their tiny “showroom”.

  6. mark

    ….the real deal Ive been after…….

    • BOP Guy Member

      Beautiful ! I love the original Studebaker Avanti’s. Wouldn’t be interested in a knockoff.

  7. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I worked in a parking lot back in the 60’s. I experienced an Avanti that drove me nuts. It was one of those places where you pulled in and the attendant parked the car. Had an Avanti pull in and the driver left and I parked the car. All was good till it came to turning off the headlights – couldn’t find the switch and I looked in all the usual places. I unhooked the battery so it didn’t run down till the owner came back. That’s when I found out the switch was in a console on the roof. Made me feel about 2″ tall, didn’t even look up for the switch.
    I’ve seen a couple of them since, but other than look at them never really had a desire to own one

    • TriPowerVette

      @86_Vette_Convertible – Gave you a thumbs up. Now I know where the light switch is on an Avanti.

  8. Duffy Member

    That duct tape scares me off all the time.

  9. Maestro1

    Sellers need to decide if they are really willing to put some effort into the sales process. It’s an interesting car with limited upside and not as nice as the earlier models.

    • TriPowerVette

      @Maestro1 – Perfectly and succinctly stated.

      Back in the very early 1960’s my father was the CO of the 19th Bomb Squadron at March AFB. He was a pilot’s pilot by all accounts. When we went to the beach (for instance), we all 4 wore matching swimwear. He would wear high polish black wingtips and black socks, with his Bermuda shorts and matching beach jacket. He was a meticulous and traditional military man… part of a better generation, now gone. We just passed what would have been his 101st birthday.

      A friend of the family, whom we called “Aunt ___”, found herself in possession of a Jeep, in satisfaction of a debt she was owed. She had no use for it, and asked my father whether he would sell it for her. He agreed, and he, my mother and I went to her house, more than 50 miles away to retrieve it.

      Once we got it home, he did not write (or rather, blather) a few words, then call the ad in to the local newspaper. He spent all of his free time (of which he had precious little) over the next month, disassembling, fixing, cleaning and polishing every square inch of that Jeep, until it looked (to my 10-year-old eye) better than new.

      Then he advertised it, and sold it the same weekend. He gave her all the money. He was a man.

      My father wouldn’t have considered offering a wheelbarrow full of dirt for sale in the condition this car is presented.

      When you asked a favor of my dad, and millions like him, you got their very best.

      My mother wore kid gloves and a hat to shop for groceries. She was not unusual. We lived the Leave-It-To-Beaver life. We weren’t ashamed of it, until the media began making fun of it. Then, they said it never existed. Yes, it did. I was there.

      They were a BETTER generation in my parent’s age.

  10. chad

    thanks for the tribute.
    Best of the Season!
    Happy Honika, Christmass, Kwanza, etc, etc.!
    May Ol Man’s 93 y/o last May…same “Greatest Generation” (U can tell it was cuz the new ones’ are all letters!).

  11. Bill McPherson

    Once knew an engineer from the Studebaker Corp., when I was much younger. We worked at the same place at the time, ( mid ’70’s ) and on break, he would tell me things, such as how those were built. The roll bar cage was 2 inches think with welds no more than 6 inches apart, and completely through the metal. According to him, there wasn’t a safer car built.


    Back in 64, I bought a 63 Avanti. It was made by AMT, but still…


    Back in 64, I had a 63 Avanti. It was made by AMT, but still…

  14. Wayne

    My father wanted to buy one of these when they first came out. He was at the time up to his ears in a 1955 Corvette rebuild. So it never happened. I have always liked them. And this is the first time that I have seen a convertible edition. I unfortunately am in the middle of a couple of rebuilds. So it is out for me at this time.
    I really like this one! Even the color. It would eventually get some larger, faster sbc rendition and a worked over 700R4 transmission. Then it would be a proper touring car.

  15. P l Windish

    Remember the lyrics “Still crazy after al these years”? That’s the Avanti! The design was one of the most polarizing in automotive history. The design inspired love or hate with very little middle ground. I was one of the many smitten as a freshman in high school when I first laid eyes on an Avanti. I ended up buying a ’64 in the spring of ’66 as a senior in high school and did what a typical 17 year old did, ran the daylights out of the car for the next 3 years.
    Fast forward to January 2011 and I bought my 2nd Avanti, a ’76 Coupe and then again to November 2014 when I bought an ’89 convertible resto-mod Lamborghini red with black interior, top and black out trim, 383 stroker SBC and 4L60 AOD trans. I enjoy them both from April through November in the Chicago area’s “good weather” and get them out on the road as much as possible.
    By the way, the Avanti design has been very enduring, standing the test of time from 1962 to today. The Avanti’s name should have been Phoenix for the number of times it arose from the ashes of one ownership to another for a span of 44 years. The classic design has endured the test of time, perhaps looking more contemporary today than the light years ago 1962 when it was first introduced. I am very happy with my two Avantis and will continue to enjoy them as long as I’m able to.

    • TriPowerVette

      @P l Windish – That’s what I’m talking about.

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