Late Production Model: 1987 Avanti

The Avanti story got fairly murky as the company entered and exited different ownership groups, with the updated design lacking some of the original grace that made it such a standout when new. The later generations kept the basic styling traits in place, but it was never quite the same as the Studebaker-built models. This one is a 1987 two-door that 65,000 original miles and is being sold by what sounds like a long-term owner who has to move the car along due to old age. Find it here on Craigslist for $7,800, reflecting a price reduction from $8,200.

The Avanti maintains some of that classic look thanks to the wire-style wheels and white-wall tires. Interestingly, the seller points out that this version of the Avanti hails from the Michael Kelly ownership era, who bought the company twice throughout his career. Kelly made a few moves that kept the spirit of the original car alive, from dropping the “II” designation to return the name to simply being “Avanti”, to hiring a designer who was a member of the original Studebaker design team. I didn’t think the dual exhaust was original, but brochure photos confirm it is.

While the exhaust may have been somewhat exotic-looking in appearance, the drivetrain was growing increasingly restrained as the Avanti brand evolved. After the high-performance heyday of the Studebaker-built model, the brand began to lose some of its footing as a viable muscle car alternative. Of course, the entire automotive landscape was rocked by changing appetites for high-consumption muscle cars, so vehicles like the Avanti had to make do with whatever Chevrolet was offering at the time – in the case of a 1987 model, it was the 155 b.h.p. 305 V8.

Some of the later Avantis we’ve seen have been more tarted up than expected, but not this one. It clearly reflects ongoing ownership that maintained the car in stock condition with major alterations from new. The seller notes that A/C, cruise control, and the power windows and seats all still work, and that the shocks were recently replaced. The fact that the price has already been dropped may indicate a willingness to negotiate further, and given these later examples don’t hold their value as well as the early models, there should be some wiggle room in the asking price.


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  1. Jasper

    STAT!!! We need a doctor in the wheel and tire department. I feel this car’s pain for having been adorned with those cheesy wire wheel covers all of these years. Need to be transplanted onto someone’s beloved Pontiac 6000 diesel!

    That being said, this era of Avanti looked best with black mesh BBS style wheel. This one might look nice on silver to better match the light side mouldings. Seems like a pretty good deal, if the bottom looks good!

    Like 5
  2. Will Fox

    IMHO, I’ve always felt the Avanti is probably THE ugliest car that was built in this country during the 1960’s. They look like they are going to fall backwards onto the pavement.

    Like 2
    • Jasper

      I know, you either love them or hate them.
      What I really despise is how Toyota adopted that reverse radius wheel well on the last generation of Tundra, Sequoia and Lexus RX. They just didn’t have the funkiness to back it up and it just looked goofy. Like the body wasn’t fastened to the chassis correctly.

      This Avanti really needs its stance adjusted.

      Like 1
  3. Vin_in_NJ

    Someone was very proud of their heritage.”The Club” in the backseat has probably been with this car since ’87

    Like 1
  4. Kevin Williams

    This Avanti incarnation is resting on a Chevy Monte Carlo chassis. It’s a body off body on conversion.

    Like 1
  5. TJDasen2

    I’ve owned some limited production cars in my time, but THIS is really rare.

  6. Vince H

    Not true dual exhaust. It is from the cat back like the Corvette used in 75.

  7. Joe Haska

    Whats with Barn Finds today, I want to buy most of the listings, this Avanti being one of them. Its perfect un-mplested, decent price, a blank slate, any up-grade would just make it better, and you have an every day driver, that no one else has, Perfect!

    Like 4
  8. pacekid

    I love this car. I was always amazed that the original design came out in the 50’s. Looks space aged compared to a 57 Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler. Without being to cliche, this design was far ahead of its time. This one looks like a real stunner!

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      The first Avantis came out in ’63, but still styled way ahead of their time.

      Like 2
      • Vince H

        Roger Ward received one for winning the Indy 500 in May 1962. It was the honorary pace car. The 62 Lark convertible was the pace car.

  9. alphasud Member

    One could buy the car and give that 305 a much needed bump with the addition of a Procharger and intercooler to make a R2 tribute. And of course loose the white walls and hubcaps!

  10. JoeNYWF64

    This has got to be the last car made with openable front vent windows!!, tho I would prefer a cleaner more futuristic astroventilation hardtop look.
    The earlier ones look better with circular headlites.

  11. PatrickM

    Aw, snap! Here we go, again. And I can’t…. Excuse me while I cry my eyes out.

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