Supercharged Manual: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2

The Avanti was Studebaker’s answer to the Ford Thunderbird and intended as a halo car for the ailing independent auto manufacturer. Created under the direction of famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, fewer than 6000 were made from April 1962 through the end of 1963, when the Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana was shuttered. Its curvaceous four-seater fiberglass body was mounted on a Lark convertible chassis and featured innovations such as a low-mounted air intake below the front bumper and front disc brakes, the latter being a first for an American car. All Avantis were powered by a 289 cubic inch V8, with an optional supercharged R-2 performance package. One such example is this restored 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2 available here on eBay in Emory, Texas.

The body of this Avanti is said to be “pretty much original Studebaker quality,” so interpret that as you will. It looks good refinished in a recent two-stage Eastwood Molten Metallic Red paint job. During restoration, the body was removed, and the frame was media blasted and repainted. A few undercarriage photos are provided to support this. The seller states that most lighting has been upgraded to LEDs and admits that the headlights “look a little odd,” which is a bit of an understatement. If the new owner wants better lighting with something that matches the overall original look of the car, they could replace the LED headlights with a pair of round H4 inserts.

The supercharged 289 sits tightly packed in a clean engine bay. One of the reasons that so few R-2 cars were sold is because the Paxton supercharger took up the space that would have otherwise been occupied by an air conditioning compressor. But isn’t one horsepower per cubic inch cool enough? The seller states that the engine, transmission, carburetor, and supercharger were all overhauled while the body was off the frame. The engine has been upgraded to R-3 exhaust manifolds, flat top pistons, and an electronic ignition, so it likely makes a bit more than the stated 289 horsepower which is delivered through a T-10 transmission with heavy duty clutch and Hurst shifter. All five tires are new and the original brakes have been upgraded with a Wilwood master cylinder and booster.

The interior is in nice condition and records indicate that it was reupholstered some years ago. New carpet was recently installed, and power windows were deleted in favor of manual crank windows. Cool interior features of the Avanti include aircraft-inspired heating and ventilation controls and a passenger’s side vanity and makeup mirror that slides out of the glovebox. Continuing with the aircraft theme is the abundance of instrumentation placed in front of the driver, including a boost gauge for the supercharger.

With more than two days left to bid, this clean upgraded Avanti sits at just over $18,500 with the reserve not met. Hagerty places a #2 excellent condition Avanti at $33,500 plus 25 percent for a four-speed manual which would put one this one at more than $40,000. Depending on the reserve, this could be a good buy for the right person. Would you forego the cool comfort of air conditioning in exchange for some extra supercharged muscle?

Fast Finds


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Lately it seems that every Avanti ever made is for sale.
    Am I the only one who can’t stand the look of those UGLY
    headlights?They just don’t look right.

    Like 28
    • Steve Clinton

      They remind me of a bottle of bath oil beads I gave my mom for Mother’s Day in 1961.

      Like 11
      • Rex Fox

        Then they are period correct!

        Like 3
    • BR

      Lets hear what you would do for headlights. I’m curious.

      • bone

        Ummmm , maybe two sealed beams ?

  2. stillrunners stillrunners Member


    Like 12
  3. Sam Shive

    Those FUGLY Headlights GOTTA GO. The rest of the car is Sweet As Honey

    Like 17
  4. Ed Hardt

    If I were to buy this I would leave the headlights on the curb in front of the seller home before I left.

    Like 16
    • Tin box

      But be sure to back over one in the way out to spare another car the indignity of wearing these fugly lamps.

      Like 5
  5. Jcs

    I have always thought that these had one of the best interiors ever and this one is a fine example as to why. Just gorgeous.

    Like 15
  6. DRV

    It’s a beautiful restoration on a beautiful car with the right stuff. These are finally appreciating as many other ignored unique cars have been lately. The hobby moves on and has even embraced 80s and90s pickup trucks. If a Chevy C10 is worth 20 grand the this is worth a considerable amount more! One thing, put some white wall tires on it that fit the wheel well.

    Like 9
  7. George Richardson

    Sadly I know of one sitting in a hedgerow in NY. Guy won’t sell.

    Like 3
  8. Steve Clinton

    Restored? Not with those headlights.

    Like 7
    • George

      Nor the brakes

  9. charlie Member

    If money were no object, this is the one for me. But here in the high desert of CA it was over 90 degrees each day, for about 6 weeks in a row last summer, with one thunderstorm, so even though it is “dry heat” it is not fun without A/C. I suppose one could get one of those ’40’s swamp coolers that hang on the outside of a window, they actually do work up here where the humidity in the summer averages about 8%.

    Like 4
  10. Vince H

    All Avanti engines had flat top pistons. The regular 289 had dished pistons. The headers were optional but probably added later.

    Like 2
  11. BR

    Lots of headlight hate here, with no alternatives offered.

    Like 1
    • Solosolo Member

      Jonathan Dennis suggests a set of LED H 4 headlights as a possible replacement in his write – up.

      Like 3
      • BR

        Ok, so people are referring to the light source, not the luminaire. Yes, there are even better choices in LED’s for that matter.

    • Tin box

      It originally had a 7” sealed beam – there are plenty of off the shelf choices that look good.

      Like 5
  12. charlie Member

    Plenty of upgrades, in addition to the headlights, so it won’t win at Pebble Beach or lesser competitions, points off for all the upgrades, and there are more than enough to go around for the museums (which periodically fold, since there are more than enough of them to go around), so DRIVE it. They had a low center of gravity for the time, and compared to todays’ SUV’s and SUV wanna be’s, they are still low, and this will drive well. It was a Grand Tourer (GT), meant to be driven long distances in comfort, so as long as you keep north of the heat in the summer, and south of the snow, ice, and salt, in the winter, you will be fine. And “Studebaker quality” was variable. Fit and finish was better than Ford or Chevy, the V8 and its supplements, were less so. You don’t find many people putting a Studebaker 289 V8 into anything to make it a better car.

    • Vince H

      The Studebaker V8 was one of the best V8 engines ever built. They are much sturdier than either Ford or Chevy.

      Long distance travel can be uncomfortable due to lack of leg support. I know I have owned them andstill do.

      Like 4
      • wayneC Member

        I have found that the lack of adjustment of the seats was the biggest problem for me. I know, I have owned them and still do.

  13. CCFisher

    With those headlights, it looks like “Little Orphan Avanti.”

    Like 3
  14. Jim

    Run an air-conditioned off the diff.

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