R1 Survivor: 1963 Studebaker Avanti

Everyone has one or more cars on their “wish I had one list.” In my case, the original Studebaker Avanti would top mine. It was a spectacular, innovative automobile that came along too late to save Studebaker. It was built for only a year and a half which resulted in a little more than 4,600 cars. The R1 version was naturally aspirated, while the R2 was supercharged. This nice R1 survivor finished in Avanti Turquoise is located in Silverlake, California, and available here on craigslist for $21,000. Thank you, rex m, for finding this tip for us!

As of early 1961, Studebaker president Sherwood Egbert knew that the company needed to do something dramatic to stay afloat. The merger with Packard hadn’t worked and the success they had in the late ‘50s with the Lark was fading as more players were getting into the compact car game. Egbert recruited Raymond Loewy, the genius behind the Golden Hawk, to fast track the development of a sporty personal luxury car. The end result was the Avanti that went into production in mid-1962, the first 4-seat car with a fiberglass body constructed on a “volume” basis. The Avanti had advanced safety features at a time when U.S. automakers weren’t particularly concerned. This includes such things as a built-in roll bar, padded interior, and door latches that became structural body members when closed. The Avanti was also the first car of its type to use caliper-style disc brakes.

There was no time or money for a new engine, so the Avanti was powered by a modified version of Studebaker’s 289-cubic inch V-8. This “Jet Thrust” engine produced 240 horsepower in standard “R1” form and 290 horsepower in supercharged “R2” form. The car was well-received by Studebaker customers, but some early production delays caused cars to trickle out at first and sales were lost as a result. For 1963, Studebaker built 2,282 R1s and 1,552 R2s. In the abbreviated 1964 model year (production stopped at the end of 1963 due to financial troubles at Studebaker), 519 more R1s were produced along with 282 R2s. The seller’s Avanti would fall into the group of 2,282. The main way to distinguish a ’63 from a ’64 is that the former had round headlight bezels and the latter square ones.

We’re not offered a lot of detail about the seller’s car and no photos of the interior or engine compartment, so the car is left to sell itself. Since no reference to supercharging is made, we assume this is an R1 Avanti. We’re told it’s been garaged kept and the body and paint look really good. 98,000 miles is reported to be the odometer reading and there is no mention of its running condition, but since the car is photographed in more than one location, we assume it’s a runner. The seller does tell us that a new carpet kit in black is included, which suggests the old carpeting is worn out and needs replacing. This Avanti has an automatic transmission.

Hagerty pegs a stellar 1963 Avanti R1 at upwards of $60,000 if in flawless condition. Good is in the $20,000 range. If this Avanti is as nice as it looks, the car is priced to sell quickly. But maybe it’s not as good a car as we might think it is.

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Comments

  1. rmward Member

    What a beautiful car. Even at 57 years old it still looks better than the boring white Camry in the background of the underground garage pictures.

    Like 26
    • Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

      Hey every car has its purpose and that boring Camry serves millions just fine.

      Like 7
      • Mr.BZ

        “serves” is correct, and the Camry has done that well, in an incredibly boring fashion for decades.

        Like 22
  2. Vince H

    The Avanti was not turbocharged. It had a belt driven supercharger.

    Like 8
  3. Vince H

    The Avanti production started in mid 62 not 63. There were also 9 R3 Avantis made in the 64 model year that ended on December 26,1963.

    Like 8
    • ADM

      Andy Granatelli said they made 400 bhp, with a lot of engine upgrades.

      Like 1
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Check the 1963 and 1964 Bonneville records set by Studebaker’s and then look for when they were broken.

    • ADM

      Andy Granatelli said the R3’s made 400 bhp, with engine upgrades.

      Like 1
      • Vince H

        Yes they made over 400 BHP. Everyone was different. They dynoed between 425-450 BHP

  4. Danno

    I remember seeing one for the first time as a kid, at a muscle car show. Dark blue & wire wheels is what I retained, then, but it was probably tricked out in ways I didn’t understand at the time. I still like the unconventional exterior design, but my tempered perception sees something that has been turned upside down (or maybe inside out) and placed over a car chassis, now. An overturned boat maybe.
    Id’ totally drive it, if it were mine. Maybe toss a set of wire wheels on it…

  5. jimjim

    Likely an automatic, since you can’t tell from the ad. Too bad.

    Like 1
  6. JoeBob

    Nice car, but pictures of the interior and engine bay and underside would be nice.

    Like 2
  7. Vince H

    I see Russ has made corrections.

  8. Vince H

    Russ
    thank you for the corrections.

  9. SourPwr Member

    Maybe it’s the angle of the photo, but that front end has a look only a mother could love.

    Like 2
    • Skorzeny

      I have always loved the rear, never the front. Needs a grille of some sort.

      Like 1
  10. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    I keep seeing “caliper-style disc brakes” from time to time: what other types of disc brakes are there?

    Like 1
    • tiger66

      The early disc brakes used by Chrysler, 1949-54. Which were not caliper-style.

      Like 2
  11. Ken Vrana

    I grew up in the Hamptons and was working at the famed Bridgehampton Racing Circuit the day the first Avanti was showcased at that venue. The public had never seen one before and went nuts> I think I have some pics of it that day if anyone would like to see them.

    Like 3
    • Mark Kurth

      Yeah, I’d sure like to see those pics!

      Like 3
  12. ADM

    About 1988, in a dusty, Glastonbury, CT mill building, a guy had a small collection of “barn find” cars. Among them was a dark blue ’64 R2. It was a beautiful sight, looking at that supercharged engine, and everything looked fine, except for all the dust. I do hope, 32 years on, that someone has that car all slicked up, and on the road.

    Like 3
  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Yep…beat the Corvette by a year – 1962 – with disk brakes……….

    • Ron

      More than that, first year for Corvette disc brakes was 1965.

      Like 5
  14. misterlou Member

    Silverlake CA AKA Los Angeles.

  15. JonArd

    Nate Altman, a previous Studebaker dealer,and his brother, bought the tooling and rights for the Avanti and produced the Avanti II from 1965-1981 … it was powered by Chevy engines – 327, then 400, then 350, and 305, with the last one having a Roush V 6 engine … itcould be built to personal specifications – for instance, if Wilt Chamberlain wanted one he could have the roof raised and leg modifiications made … interior also – if you wanted ostrich leather, you got it … and it would be painted any way you desired … each took 10-12 weeks to build … I sent off for a brochure and was tempted to buy one … bought a Corvette instead … after Altman, several others tried producing their own Avanti models in the late ’80s/early’90s, even in four-door and convertible models, and finally from ’02-06 when the last producer was arrested for fraud and all cars were sold off … another great car lost to history …

    Like 2
  16. Joe Haska

    Three Avanti’s on B/F today, they all have some pros and cons , for me this one is second choice and fairly obvious whose third , if price is not a factor.

  17. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    Thank you, tiger66. News to me.

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