Supercharged Stude: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2

In the automotive industry, few cars represent more of a swing for the fences than the Studebaker Avanti. Although a stodgy image is never desirable, it was particularly offensive in the swingin’sixties when domestic automotive design was anything but bland. This 1963 Avanti features a supercharged powerplant wrapped in styling that today is still polarizing. The example shown here is even more intriguing due to its listing by the original owner. Find it here on eBay.

Despite surviving the 50s by churning out economy-minded models that found favor with cash-strapped buyers, the prosperity of the 1960s demanded Studebaker shake things up a bit. Sherwood Egbert became the company’s president in 1961 and provided the injection the historic automaker needed, first hiring Brooks Stevens and then Raymond Loewy as the firm’s new designers. Stevens refreshed the existing lineup while Lowey corralled a team focused solely on creating the striking Avanti coupe.

Two of the Avanti’s trademark design features are its cockpit-like interior and low-drag body lines, both of which complimented the powerful range of engines available. The standard R1 packed 240 b.h.p, but the R2 featured here came equipped with a Paxton supercharger, nudging the total output to 290 b.h.p with a four-barrel carb and dual exhausts. Though rarer, more powerful options existed in limited supply, the R2’s specifications put the Avanti into Corvette territory, and its fiberglass body has helped preserve examples like this one from the ravages of rust.

This R2 has led a sheltered life at the hands of its original owner, with only one respray in the factory color and the original black interior is still in excellent condition. Though the listing mentions ‘light rust’ on the frame, we’re assuming this is limited to surface rust. However, it would be worth following up with the seller to confirm that assumption. The engine, supercharger, and transmission were rebuilt 18,000 miles ago, which tells us that the owner has kept on top of the maintenance while also not hesitating to drive the car. Of course, the sound of the supercharged mill exiting via the glass-pack mufflers would be reason enough to give the Avanti plenty of exercise.

Though this striking car wasn’t enough to save Studebaker, it is still celebrated today by collectors and brand aficionados alike. In the 1960s, a supercharged model reached 168 m.p.h., and advanced safety features like a built-in roll bar, put the Stude years ahead of its competition. Buying an R2 from its only owner is certainly a rare opportunity, as is the chance to drive one of America’s most significant sports cars.

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Comments

  1. Ed Somers

    This design would look new now, 50 years later. This car and the original XKE are two of the most beautiful production cars ever built. I remember as a 15 year-old reading an article in either Road and Track or Car and Driver about the Avanti when it first came out. I fell in love with it then and still feel the same way about it today.

  2. NY Neil

    This, along with the original E type Jag have to be the MOST beautiful cars ever built.
    The fresh thinking of Raymond Lowe brought to the world stage just how advanced and original AMERICA could be when it came to automotive design. This fresh new (at the time) design has truly stood the test of time. (and funny that I wrote this before I read Ed’s comment)

  3. Wil

    Indeed it is a polarizing design, I’m on the other side of the coin. Always seen it as a series of several uncomfortable shapes forced together at strange angles. The headlamps look like they don’t belong there. The word *awkward* always comes to mind imo with these cars. Agree about the Series I E-Type coupe–it is the polar opposite of this car, it all flows together totally harmoniously.

  4. Tony

    Cool but not as cool as the Wagonaire Daytona R2

  5. Anonymous

    nice car – just don’t bumb into anything

  6. Neil McElhannon

    I have loved the styling of this car since the first time I ever saw it. One word Beautiful. I really wanted the Avanti 2 to be profitable to ensure there would be more Avanti’s on the road and I would be able to own one. The square headlights on the 2’nd styling did work much better than the original round ones. Either way I wish I could have owned one.

  7. Kent Pearson

    I love Studebakers but the Avanti just hits it out of the park for me. The downsidewould be the understeer mentioned. Having once put a Le Baron into the concrete guards on a highway entrance never again do I want to drive a car that underperforms my pickup. Anyone know a fix?

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