Runs and Drives: 1963 Studebaker Avanti

With the company on its financial knees, 1962 was a strange time for Studebaker to introduce a premium model such as the Avanti. The fact that it remained in production as a Studebaker for little more than 18-months was indicative of just how dire things were looking for the company. The VIN on this particular car reveals that it was the 40th Avanti to roll off the production line in 1963, and as part of an estate, it is now looking for a new home. It is located in Caldwell, New Jersey, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN for the Studebaker has been set at $10,000.

The Avanti White paint on the Studebaker has certainly seen better days, and this is a car that is a prime candidate for a full restoration. One surprising fact about this particular car is that given the amount of corrosion that is visible on many of the external chrome trim items, visible rust in the car seems to be virtually non-existent.  With a fiberglass body, this was never going to be an issue externally, while a lack of carpet affords us a good look at the floors. These seem to be really clean, but I would like to get a good look under the car to see how things pan out there. The owner makes no mention of any rust, so hopefully, things will be okay. As previously stated, trim items such as the bumpers will definitely require restoration, while there are also some other external trim items that are missing. The factory tinted glass is all present, and this seems to be in good condition.

The interior of the Avanti is largely complete, and the seats and other soft trim appear to be free of significant rips or tears. The seats are upholstered in a combination of red leather and cloth, and while they look dirty, I think that a deep clean would yield some pretty positive results. The door trims would appear to be in the same boat, but there are still some items that will require restoration or replacement. The top of the dash has some pretty significant cracks, as does the wheel. A new carpet set will also need to be sourced, and as is the case with the exterior, there are a number of interior trim items that are exhibiting corrosion. These will either require restoration or replacement. It is nice to see that there have been no modifications or aftermarket additions to the Avanti, while it is a great bonus to find that this is one of the relatively few cars to have been optioned with air conditioning.

The inclusion of air conditioning in this Avanti is an indication that this is a vehicle that has been fitted with the standard 289ci V8 engine. A supercharged version of the 289 was also available as an option, but buyers could not have the supercharger/AC as a combination. Backing the engine is a 3-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, which sends the car’s 240hp to a 3.73 rear end. Unsurprising for a premium vehicle, the Avanti also comes equipped with power steering, along with power-assisted front disc brakes. The good news on the mechanical front is that this is an Avanti that runs and drives. It isn’t clear whether it is actually in a roadworthy state, but I would be inclined to have a thorough inspection performed on the car before I took it out on the road. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In 1963, Studebaker produced 3,834 examples of the Avanti, which was a long way short of their stated aim to build 20,000 cars. Of those cars, only 772 were normally-aspirated vehicles fitted with the PowerShift transmission and air conditioning. Today a good example can quite easily fetch prices in excess of $30,000, with air-conditioned examples commanding a premium of between 15-20% over these prices. Values have been increasing slowly but steadily in recent times, so if this one turns out to have no significant rust issues, then it could be a restoration project that makes sound economic sense.


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  1. Rich

    Get it road worthy, install some carpet and drive it as-is. Perfect for a no worries car that will still turn heads regardless of condition.

    Like 4
  2. Tucker Callan

    I remember hearing that they had a 283 mill, made in Canada? Our football coach had one!

    • That AMC guy

      Not in the Avanti, that came with Studebaker’s own V8. The GM engines were used after the South Bend factory and engine foundry were shut down and production had moved to Studebaker’s small facility in Canada. Since the Studebaker engine plant was no more, GM engines were sourced for the 1965-1966 models. With the move to Canada only the Lark-based models were produced.

      Like 6
      • fred

        It’ wasn’t a “Move” to Canada, all that happened was the USA Operation was shut down. The Canadian Operation had been in business for years, in that location since 1947. Studebaker became a import car in 1964 rather than American. The idea that they picked up and move is something that is a myth in the automotive history rule. It was just one USA plant closing. The other USA Plant, for Military division was sold to Kaiser.

  3. DRV

    I’ve been involved with a few of these. The frame has outriggers called hog troughs which are crafted with so so quality, and rust badly. You must check those first as the expense is considerable to replace.
    There is a huge club along with the international Studebaker club for support. I have posted many ads from here on their sight. It’s a great group !

    Like 4
    • Lew

      There is also a fair sized club devoted to all things Avanti, the Avanti Owners Association International with nearly 2,000 members.

      Like 3
  4. Gaspumpchas

    Good write up, Adam and I like the pun–Look underneath to see if everything PANS out!!! Good luck to the new owner and as DRV says, watch the rust underneath!!

    Like 5
  5. Rick Harrison

    Wow, two Studebakers in one listing! But, alas, no money and no space in the garage!

    Like 1
  6. PDXBryan

    I ran this one by an “Avanti” friend who thinks you’d need to spend at least $15K and your own labor to end up with a $25-30K car. He says they’re simple mechanically but complicated cosmetically. Seems like a cool project, though, if you’re not concerned with flipping.

    Like 2
  7. Tim Allen

    FYI, seats and door panels have been recovered and are not re-done as original. Looks like it was produced August 1962 from SN# records. Dash should be problematic and expensive to restore/replace

    Like 1
  8. dogwater

    Can you still buy parts ? looks like the headlight rings are missing…..

    • Lew

      Several vendors have most parts for Avantis, including Studebaker International in Indiana.
      the headlight glass covers and other parts are available online from Endurance Built Products
      They will soon have the headlight rings too, better than original.

      Like 1
  9. George Mattar

    These awesome cars were among the first 60s cars to command what was considered big money about 40 years ago. I had the pleasure of driving 64 model with a supercharger in 2005. Loved it. Studebaker president Sherwood Egbert believed this car could save the company, but Studebaker workers in the early 60s made very good money. Well, the company gave it to them. That, along with other factors, killed the South Bend company. Great car at the wrong time. Studebaker fans are very loyal. Parts can be found.

    Like 1
  10. Jim

    These are very cool cars (I own one), but they are much different than regular Detroit iron. These cars have a roll bar built in from the factory. This was the first car with standard front disk brakes built in the US. Having said that, those brakes are licensed-built copies of the Series I Jaguar XKE brakes. As such, the caliper does not float on pins like modern (1970’s) calipers. They must be shimmed to get even pad contact in each side of the rotor. They are also too small for a car of this weight. Most owners buy a conversion kit to larger modern disk brakes for safety reasons. The power steering is not what we’re used to either. It uses a four line system instead of just a pressure and a return line. All four lines will invariably need replacing. The air conditioning compressor does mount in the exact engine accessory area where the supercharger mounts. That means you could buy a supercharged Avanti OR an air conditioned Avanti, but you couldn’t have both. The fact is the supercharged Avanti’s bring the higher selling price.

    Like 4
  11. SusanOliver

    The guy down the street from us bought a new one. WE all thought it was real sporty but questioned if buying a Studdie in those days was a good idea. He insisted that the company was sound and would be around for ” a great long time”. Since he was quite handsome and a doctor, I know I believed him, after all, how could he be wrong?

    Like 3

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