Studebaker Avanti Story, Part II

To Part I In Avanti’s story (received some great comments), we reviewed the design of the coupe and a very short original production timeline in Studebaker. But the car was so unique and modern that the two enterprising Studebaker dealers knew they couldn’t kill Avanti in just two years.

Today we will take a walk for the next few decades. Avanti has been devastated over time and has become more and more lost in its true self.

The company was immediately contacted by a South Bend Studebaker dealer after Studebaker discontinued Avanti production at the end of 1963. Arnold, Nate Altman and Leo Newman all felt about Avanti and had a life beyond that. Studebaker has agreed to sell Avanti’s name, production rights, tools, existing parts, and coupe space at its South Bend plant. By 1964, the production of Transtar and Champ pickups had ceased, so the deal included Studebaker’s truck production rights. In a short period of time, Avanti resumed production.

Now built under the new AMC, Avanti Motor Corporation, Avantis was slowly built by hand. The company made a profit because AMC manufactured Studebaker truck parts, not because of Avanti. The company never built a new truck, but it did.

NOS Avanti parts were quickly depleted, and by 1965 AMC had to be a little creative to continue production. Enter Avanti II. The most notable change introduced in the ’65 model year was power swap. The 4.7 supercharged Studebaker engine has been removed and replaced by a small Corvette block Chevrolet 327 (5.4L) V8. The power was up to 300 horses, but the rest of the car (1965) remained about the same as before.

The Avanti II maintained its life as a custom-made car, and Avanti Motors required a lead time of 10-12 weeks to build Avanti depending on the color and trim selected. Interior components have moved away from the original Loewy-designed and towards more up-to-date trims sourced from different locations. Consider the many walnut, aftermarket gauge, and disco color themes.

Over time, the 327 was replaced by 400, then 350, and by 1981 it was a Chevrolet 305. In parallel with the Corvette’s decline, the 305 brought fatigued electronic engine control, a total of 155 raging horses, and GM. TH-350 3-speed automatic.

Like the rest of the automotive industry, the early 80’s was a dark time for Avanti II.But the coupe was still good 25 years There was the rest of life there, and things got much darker. We’ll discuss it in more detail in Part III.

[Images: Avanti Motor Corporation]

Studebaker Avanti Story, Part II

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