1963-1964 Studebaker Avanti


The 1964 Studebaker Avanti was little changed from the '63 version, though it now had square headlight bezels.
The 1964 Studebaker Avanti was little changed from the '63 version, though it now had square headlight bezels.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1963-1964 Studebaker Avanti had a remarkably slippery shape, even though designer Raymond Loewy had not had time for wind tunnel testing -- he just guessed! In late 1962, Granatelli broke 29 Bonneville speed records with an Avanti R3, traveling faster than anyone had before in a stock American car.

Unfortunately, Studebaker failed to deliver Avantis to dealers fast enough to satisfy the initial wave of orders. Unexpected distortion during the fiberglass curing process accounted partly for the delay, forcing the firm to add its own fiberglass body facility. By the time all the bugs were out, most of the customers who'd placed advance orders had given up and bought Corvettes or imports. Fewer than 4,600 Avantis were produced during 1963. Production had already ceased by the time Studebaker stopped car production in South Bend in December 1963.

Despite slow sales, Studebaker made numerous detail changes to the Avanti beginning as early as July 1962. Officially the car was "not designated by model year, but incorporates changes whenever appropriate." The only determination of dating was the registration date, which designates 809 Avantis as 1964 models. A rule of thumb, though not exactly accurate, is the square-bezel headlamp style, which appeared along with most detail changes in August 1963 for the "1964" models. But Studebaker's first announcement was that these were optional, and some round headlight cars were registered as '64s.

Other August alterations included a new grille for the radiator scoop (negating some of Loewy's original thinking), chrome drip moldings above the doors, restyled parking lights, and smooth vinyl upholstery as standard (instead of smooth or perforated at the buyer's option). All Avantis were very fully equipped. The list of standard equipment included a high-output generator, three ashtrays, backup lights, 60 amp/hour battery, chrome engine parts, heater-defroster, clock, center console, internal trunk and hood releases, courtesy and trunk lamps, padded sun visors, tinted glass, and two-speed (later variable-speed) electric windshield wipers.

When Studebaker abandoned the Avanti after 1964, two partners in a Studebaker dealership, Leo Newman and Nathan Altman, purchased the manufacturing rights. They formed the Avanti Motor Corporation and resumed building the car in an abandoned Studebaker plant, thus reviving one of the decade's great designs.

Get the mechanical and production specifications for the 1963-1964 Studebaker Avanti on the next page.

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