The Avanti was a big deal for Studebaker and the first all-new body style since 1953. The last car design of the legendary Raymond Loewy, it rode on a shortened Lark chassis with a stock Studey 289cid V8. The Avanti’s striking simplicity of shape was just one of Loewy’s celebrated confections.
From his voguish Coca-Cola dispenser to the chaste Lucky Strike cigarette pack, Loewy’s creations were instant classics, and the brilliant Avanti was a humdinger. Studebaker’s prodigy was fairly audacious too, with a fiberglass body, antisway bars, and wind-evading aerodynamics. Dealers, however, could not meet the huge wave of orders and this, combined with other niggles like flexing of the fiberglass shell, resulted in impatient buyers defecting to the Corvette camp instead.
Fewer than 4,650 Avantis were made, and production ceased in December 1963, the Avanti concept being sold to a couple of Studebaker dealers. They went on to form the Avanti Motor Corporation, which successfully churned out Avantis well into the Eighties.
More European than American, the Avanti had a long neck, razor-edged front fenders, and no grille. Early sketches show Loewy’s inspiration, with telltale annotations scribbled on the paper that read “like Jaguar, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes.” Lead time for the show Avanti was a hair-raising 13 months, with a full-scale clay model fashioned in only 40 days.
The slippery shape was not wind-tunnel tested, but a piece of guesswork by Loewy.
The 289cid was the best Studebaker V8 ever made, developing 240 bhp in standard R1 tune.\ Supercharged R2 and R3 boasted 290 and 335 bhp respectively.
Standard equipment included internal trunk and hood releases and vinyl bucket seats.
The clean, uncluttered rear included ageless light treatment.
Unmistakable from any angle, early ’63 Avantis had round headlights, but most later ’64 models sported square ones.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Studebaker Avanti (1963)
PRODUCTION 3,834 (1963)
BODY STYLE Two-door, four-seater coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass body, steel chassis.
ENGINES 289cid, 304cid V8s.
POWER OUTPUT 240–575 bhp (304cid R5 V8 fuel-injected).
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional Power-Shift automatic.
SUSPENSION Front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front discs, rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 120 mph (193 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 7.5 sec
A.F.C. 17 mpg (6 km/l)