Runs, Drives, and Stops: 1984 Avanti II

This 1984 Avanti II is a project-grade example that runs and drives but will need a thorough mechanical reconditioning. The interior remains in fine shape, highlighted by a set of sharp Recaros, and the bodywork is sound if not a bit dull. The low mileage of 17,663 is accurate, according to the seller, but that doesn’t meant the car doesn’t have more than a few gremlins to sort out. This Avanti hails from the era and period of ownership in which the company switched to square headlights and went bankrupt in the late 80s, yet another disappointing chapter in the years of Avanti ownership post-Studebaker. You can find this Avanti II here on craigslist with a $9,995 asking price in Great Falls, Montana.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jack M. for the find. First off, I can’t recall seeing too many Avantis painted this shade of bright red – well, it was bright red. It’s a bit cloudy now. The bodywork isn’t bad, but the seller does note some cracks in the fiberglass. He describes the trouble spots as “…minor cracking on the front fenders and cowl. Cracks range from ½” to 3 ½” in length.” This isn’t uncommon among cars with fiberglass or plastic panels, but you do have to wonder where you’ll find replacement fenders for an Avanti. I’ve found more than one Avanti parts specialists, but none with replacement body panels listed for sale. The seller notes the whitewall tires are old but the wire wheels are in good shape.

The Avanti’s interior is one of my favorite features of this American sports car, as those Recaros are among the most supportive and comfortable seats money could buy in 1984. The interior is in surprisingly good order considering it sounds as if the storage arrangement hasn’t been the best and the car has basically been left standing and ignored. The seller does note some electrical gremlins have crept in, as the electric windows need assistance in order to go up all the way, and the seller hasn’t checked whether the power sunroof will do the same thing. The A/C system has also not been evaluated, but I’d wager it’s not in tip-top shape. The back window tray and passenger-side pillar leather needs replacing.

As we all know by now, the Avanti slowly began losing its performance chops as different ownership groups came into view. By this juncture, it made do with a Chevy HO 305 paired to a TH350 transmission. The good news? You can find replacement parts pretty readily for a drivetrain like this, likely far easier than replacement fenders. The carburetor has some running issues that seem to go away the more the Avanti is driven, but overall, the seller points to lack of use and neglect as the biggest flaws about the car, along with being parked outdoors. Will it find an owner with a garage who wants to restore a later Avanti II? Hard to say, but Avantis do seem to still have a fairly fervent following.


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  1. ROSKO

    This car reminds me of a start athlete who stayed in the game a few seasons too long.

    Like 5
  2. Little_Cars

    First thing to go would be those wire wheels. And don’t do anything with those tires except load the car on the trailer! To me, this timeless design craves a set of Magnum 500 wheels and wide paws! I’m not sure the near $10k ask is fair for something described as it is.

    Like 3
  3. tiger66

    Quote: “This Avanti hails from the era and period of ownership in which the company switched to square headlights and went bankrupt in the late 80s…”

    The switch to square headlight enclosures took place at Studebaker with the 1964 models, though some ’64s were built with the round ones. The later change of ownership had nothing to do with it.

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      They were square bezels. This has actual square hheadlights.

      Like 8
  4. Paul L Windish

    The Avanti like many other cars of the ’60’s, suffered a decrease in power and performance in the ’70’s as the Avanti II went from a 300 hp 327 through a variety of 350’s, 400’s and finally the 305 motor taking the power to the 145 – 175 range. The timeless design of the car stayed in production through a variety of owners until the 2007 model year serving as a testament to its design. The design was polarizing, producing a Love it of Hate it reaction in about equal numbers. I’m in the camp of Love it as I had a ’64 as a 17 year old in 1966 and never got over the car. I got back into Avanti ownership in 2011 acquiring a ’76 with the 400 motor and a few years later adding a ’89 convertible resto-mod with a 383 motor. I enjoy both cars and have driven to both coasts from the Midwest with the vehicles. As for wheel treatment, I really liked the car with wires so I added a Dayton set to the ’76. The ’89 came with 18″ and 20″ American Racing wheels. I like the wires, but don’t enjoy the cleaning of them. The ’76’s motor has been rebuilt and putting out 2 1/2 times the power as original while the ’89’s motor was a new 383 crate motor when installed. Both cars have no problem keeping up with traffic on the roads. As I said earlier, the Avanti design is timeless and is very well received when out on the road.

    Like 5
    • WayneC Member

      Like Paul, i got my first Avanti at age 17. A round headlight 64, R-2 supercharged 4-speed that I foolishly got rid of when the first kid came along and I never got over it. In the ensuing years, I picked up another 64 and a 63, both R-1, but they didnt have the feel of the first. I bought an 87 a couple of years ago and the quality of the build sucks. I have a friend that bought a wrecked 87 and the biggest problem is that both cars are a mixtureof GM, AMC and Fordparts, both cars being different in that respect, plus the placement of the body on the GM frame leavesxa lot to be desired. Hoods and Fenders are available from a supplier in Ohio, plus other body parts.

      Like 1
      • Paul L Windish

        I was a college junior when I sold my ’64 R-1 and got a ’67 Chevelle SS 396. I had married and we were expecting our first child, making the Avanti pretty small for a family car. I’m sure the 50 HP difference between the R-1 and R-2 made it hard going to an R-1 and enjoying the car after having an R-2. The build quality of my ’76 was superior to the ’64 I had. My ’89 convertible handles better than the ’76 because of the Chevy frame and suspension, it doesn’t float and sway in corners as the ’76 is prone to do because of the older suspension, even though its all been rebuilt. The ’89 takes corners like its on rails. I had the opportunity to get it on the Studebaker Proving grounds in South Bend last summer and driving 4 laps around it at 75+ was a blast.

      • Claudio

        Now we are talking my kinda talk
        Always had a softspot for the convertible ones
        I live in canada and i have never seen one here
        Once or twice in us car shows and simply love them
        Thank you for your input on different chassis

  5. Major Thom

    One of the many changes Stephen Blake made when he took over was to get rid of the “II” suffix, so this car, and all that came after it, are more correctly called just ‘Avanti”

    Like 1
  6. Rustytech Member

    I would think if the fiberglass cracks are limited to 3 1/2” they could easily be repaired with so fiberglass and resins. I have repaired cracks in boat hulls that were 10” or more and you couldn’t tell they were ever there. Can’t comment on the value here but I like the car.

    Like 1
  7. Kenn

    Aaaand once again, a seller has cranked back the odometer to increase the value being asked for the car. Odometer numbers line up perfectly as they go forward. Going backward, they get out of whack. These are way off.
    This is in no way a 17,000 mile car.

    Like 2
  8. Phil D

    The seller doesn’t appear to really know what he has. He describes the powertrain as being a 305 HO and a TH350, yet the indicator on the floor-mounted shifter clearly indicates a four-speed transmission, so it’s not a Turbo 350.

    Like 2
    • Ed P

      I don’t think GM had a 4 speed automatic in ‘84. So what transmission could be in there?

      • Major Thom

        700-R4 four speed transmission which first appeared in 1982.

        Like 1
      • Ed P

        Thanks Major

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