Plastic Patina: 1964 Studebaker Avanti

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Love it or hate it, the original Avanti is iconic. It still looks like nothing else on the road. But roads are where this faded beauty hasn’t been visiting lately. Did you know that fiberglass can rust? You do now! Find this final year beauty outside Austin, TX in Llano County for $7500 here on craigslist  or saved here.

Studebaker once again went out on a limb and took a risk to try and reinvent itself in mid-1962. Rather than redo their regular car line, a sporty flagship was created, rendered in plastic. The new 1963 Avanti, which stands for forward, was a halo vehicle to try and bring in new customers. The four seat two door was based on the convertible Lark platform, but left the boxy form behind for swoopy curves. Corvette was the target, but the Riviera and Thunderbird make a better comparison.

The condition of this gray Avanti means only experts should try a restoration. Everything needed is there, but the Texas sun and wild weather has patina’d this Stude both inside and out. The bumpers are rusted, the interior has literally melted inside itself, and the engine is as frozen as Bernie Madoff’s bank accounts circa 2009. The R1 289 V8 is mated to an automatic with TwinTraction limited slip differential, AC, and power brakes with front discs.

Helping bring this car back to its glory days are an extra set of bucket seats and rear bench that are in better shape, complete glass all around, solid floors, and the front valence just needs to be reattached. Even the original window sticker is included. There is just surface corrosion underneath what appears to be a very straight body. This 1964 still has the ‘63 headlights before they went circle in square and are much better looking than the later Avanti II’s. Can you imagine what this car looked like new with gray paint and a red interior? Would definitely be nice to see it like that again. Who here is an Avanti fan?

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  1. JazzGuitarist54

    I always liked these cars, the early models that is
    As for the square vs round headlights, I prefer the round
    Maybe I am getting older, but I really find myself wanting a 1st generation Riv, older t-bird, one of those personal luxury autos.
    A bit more than I can take on, but I do hope it finds goes to someone who is competent

    Like 0
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Very much overpriced, methinks, but worthy of restoration. Shame the Avanti didn’t inspire the car buying public. If you read the story on the model, you’ll understand why.

      Like JazzGuitarist54 (who’d probably dig my mint 1966 Vox Wildcat axxe) I prefer the round headlights. An R-3 engine and four-speed would be an extra attraction for this Avanti fan.

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  2. PatrickM

    Too high asking price for the work that needs doing. I’ve always wanted one, but will pass on this one. No space, no money, and I’m getting too old to tackle this much work. Build it or leave it. I have to leave this one.

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  3. SAM61

    I always thought these were cool. Our family’s house was next to an elementary school’s parking lot…one of the teachers drove a”63 Avanti into the early “70’s.

    The Studebaker museum in South Bend is great…worth a 3 to 5 hour visit.

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  4. Fred w.

    At least you can be sure there are no dents.

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  5. SAM61

    Here’s another from the Studebaker museum.

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    • Vince H

      This one topped 200 mph both ways at Bonneville.

      Like 0
  6. darrun

    Here’s a less rusty one that, I’ve had my eyes on. If only I didn’t have so many projects.


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    • Steve K

      its my car its fiberglass very little rust LOL frame is good and the hog troughs

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  7. grant

    “The new 1963 Avanti, which stands for forward”

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    • redwagon

      i think the word ‘avanti’ means ‘forward’.

      at least that’s how i understood it.

      Like 0
      • grant


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      • Ron Wheeler

        Avanti, an Italian word for forward. How this came about, I
        sure would like to know?
        Hard to restore inside. I can’t get behind my dash for a repair.
        This project will drive you crazy.

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      • Peter

        S. Avanti; the forward model name was an ethos for studebaker at that time.
        Accordingto Wikipedia: “Loewy envisioned a low-slung, long-hood/short-deck semi-fastback coupe with a grilleless nose and a wasp-waisted curvature to the rear fenders, suggesting a supersonic aircraft. ” Also it was the first American production car to have disc brakes up front. It was designed in very short time by Loewy and other designers.

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  8. Thomas Cotrel

    My biggest worry is the frame. This component was off of the Lark/Daytona cars and either rusted or wore out over time. If I had the resources I would scoop this one up and spend whatever it took to make it a driver. I am that taken by its looks.

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  9. Joe Haska

    I agree wit almost all the comments! Love the car, but this is just to difficult of a project, for an average guy like me.

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  10. Tom

    Avanti in Italian means “forward”.

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  11. Vince H

    The round headlights were available the end if you ordered them.

    Like 0
    • Bill Pressler

      Pretty sure that any round-headlight ‘orders’ after summer of ’63 were filled from completed, unsold cars in inventory.

      I think I like the round lights better, but I like the interior improvements in what is normally known as the ’64 line.

      When the Avanti was introduced, it had disc brakes and an automatic with a PRND21 quadrant–both new for that time period.

      Like 0
  12. Tom Justice

    What a shame. Really far gone, it would take someone with major skills and deep pockets but if that person is out there, please give it a try.

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  13. Vince H

    Numbers on build order look a little odd.I don’t see factory A/C

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  14. Vince H

    Numbers on build order look a little odd.I don’t see factory A/C

    Like 0
  15. Tom C.

    I’ve always loved the Avanti’s, either the Stude or the Avanti II. The Avanti II sure doesn’t get much respect even though it is a better made, hand built, rarer car than the originals. Here’s my ’67 Avanti II and is one of 66 built that year. She’s running a 350 HO 330hp with a 700R4 trans. It just flys down the highway.

    As for the car in the article, wow, that’s a project. In my opinion, it is way overpriced. I’ve restored cars before, but I wouldn’t take this one on. I know what Avanti parts cost. Figure if you’re going to spend 20k to restore this car, might as well take that 20k and buy a running, driving, nice looking one. Just my .02.

    Like 0
  16. Rabbit

    The looks are polarizing, that’s for sure. Personally, I love ’em. A fella in the town I lived most of my life in actually had two: an R1 and a Supercharged model, both Blue Mist with white (Ivory?) interior. Last I knew (about 15 years ago?) He still had both, locked away somewhere. Safe, I hope…

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    • warren

      Ice blue, white leather interior with cobalt blue carpet…

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  17. Jim Kaufman

    I like them so much..So I bought one.

    Like 2
    • Tom C.

      “Ask the man who owns one”. Right Jim?

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    • Mountainwoodie

      Your Avanti is gorgeous! Nice color for the lines

      Like 0
  18. wcastorMember

    I have owned 4 Avanti’s over the last 50 years, and I like the square better. They aren’t completely square and I always thought that the round headlights didn’t quite match the lines of the car. But, the round lights look better than the square housing with square bulbs like my ’87 Avanti.

    Like 0
  19. Kevin in Iowa

    $7500? More like $1500 and that’s pushing the limit for such an ugly car with a very small following.

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    • Peter

      Good opportunity for someone to get a series one Avanti.

      Like 0
  20. wcastorMember

    Vince H, it indeed has/had factory air. It is very hard to see but the factory air is just a modified under dash unit with 2 round outlets in the center console and one on each side by one’s feet. To say it left something to be desired is an understatement. The arm closest to the center would be cool and the arm next to the window would roast.

    Like 0
    • Vince H

      Not according to the build order. No A/C

      Like 0
  21. Maestro1

    I’ve always liked these cars. And those who prefer the round headlights areright on; the design is more coherent. If the whole car is there, meaning the interior pieces are not being reproduced and one will have an awful time finding bits and pieces. If the rest of the car is there then by all means, looking at it from that standpoint of about a $35,000.00 restoration done by somebody who knows what they are doing. Try the car at $5000.00. You will be in the car $40,000.00
    plus insurance and so on, and I don’t know if I would drive it on the street at that number. But they are beauties and deserve to be saved.

    Like 0
  22. Doug

    I’d have to go for a more reasonable priced one – Rather than try to fix an old Lark chassis, I’d look to Art Morrison or The Roadster Shop for a new chassis, and swap the body on to one of their chassis – independent suspension and disc brakes all the way around would bring one of these beauties to it’s potential as a grand touring car. To my mind, the factory stance was just right – a set of 5 spoke ET mags ( like the AR Torque thrust D ) looked great on these when new.

    Like 0
  23. Peter

    Didn’t Loewy do the styling for this? The dash will come back up with the correct heat applied. It is the early model, I would go for it guys.

    Like 0
  24. P Wentzell

    Peter, Yes, this was a Raymond Loewy design (at least from his design studio).

    Like 0
  25. Little_Cars AlexanderMember

    “The dash will come back up with the correct heat applied?” Seriously, this alone would slow the restoration down by eons. I’d take Steve Ks II over this barn find Stude. Sorry Steve, I don’t have the money to grab yours however.

    Like 0
  26. hans grafftenberg

    I just bought my second Avanti, 1964 R1 automatic. The old man worked on restoring it for 25 years and sadly died right before its completion. I bought it for $8500 dollars and finished it, it needed very little. this guy is asking way too much

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  27. P l Windish

    Hans, you got a real bargain! I currently have my 2nd and 3rd Avantis, being forever bitten by the Avanti “bug” as a freshman in high school in the early 60’s and buying my first one, a round headlight ’64 in 1966.
    This Avanti would be a ton of work and money for someone to tackle. One would also become very familiar with the term “upside down” when tackling this project. My advice is to buy one already restored, costing you less money, time, and aggravation.
    Both my Avantis are later, after Studebaker, models that I have put more than a couple of dollars into to make them reliable cross-country driving vehicles.

    Like 0
  28. David Miraglia

    I want one too, always wanted a Avanti, but here in Brooklyn, no place to park

    Like 0
  29. That Guy

    At half the price, it might make a good basis for a vintage racer. It’s just too far gone cosmetically to be a viable restoration unless prices really climb.

    Like 0

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