Avanti II interiors were luxuriously trimmed, with stitchwork performed by a former Studebaker craftsman.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Only a true aficionado could tell the difference between a 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 Avanti II and an original, without searching for a "II" in its nameplate. Profile and detailing changed little, except that the new one sat more level on the ground.

The early "rake" (front end lower than the rear) was gone. Otherwise, the revived coupe displayed the same grille-less nose, sharp-edged front fenders, slim bumpers, and "Coke-bottle" profile, with only a slight narrowing of front wheel openings.

Lighter weight gave the car better weight distribution. Front disc brakes provided fade-free stopping power. Road-testers gave it high marks for safety, silence, and a firm but comfortable ride.

While the original Avantis had focused on performance, the new ones qualified as four-seat "personal luxury" machines, partly due to higher prices. Whereas the original had sold for $4,445, the Avanti II started at $7,200 -- or as little as $6,550 if the buyer agreed to do without a few standard items.

Throw in a full load of options, and the sticker could approach 10 grand.

Available equipment included air conditioning, power windows, tinted glass, Eppe driving lights, limited-slip differential, Magnum 500 chromed wheels, and plenty more.

Inside, $200 bought an upgrade to textured "Raphael vinyl," while $500 was the price for all leather. As later literature proclaimed, there were "more than 400 ways to 'spoil yourself' inside an Avanti."

This is not to say, however, that the Avanti had become a slouch. Top speed registered at around 125 mph, and a "II" with automatic could accelerate to 60 mph in less than nine seconds.

Eugene Hardig, who'd been the last Chief Engineer at Studebaker, was responsible for keeping the engine "legal" as it grew to 350-cid displacement in 1969, and later to 400 cid.

Following the death of Nate Altman in 1976, a succession of owners have manned the Avanti helm. And though the future of the company has at times looked bleak, the car itself has remained true to the styling theme penned over four decades ago -- a convincing testament to its timeless design.

For 1965-1969 Avanti II specifications, go on to the next page.

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