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by Jay Traugott
Although its production life was very short, Studebaker's Avanti managed to leave a lasting impression amongst collectors and fans of the brand alike.
While Cadillac and Lincoln built mammoth "personal luxury coupes" in the Seventies, other automakers such as Studebaker took a different approach to the segment only a decade or so earlier. But first things first, the term "personal luxury coupe" came about when American automakers realized that buyers were more than willing to pay more for a coupe with added luxury and technology. This formula still applies today, just as some people spend extra on a Lexus instead of opting for a Toyota.
Studebaker, yet another old name for those familiar with their American automaker history, launched the Avanti in 1962 and it unfortunately only stayed on the market until the end of the 1963, due to the company's outright closure. From the onset, the Avanti was designed to be different than nearly anything else on the road at the time, but clearly its styling wasn't for everyone. Believe it or not, the Avanti's basic design was first drawn up by the company's new president Sherwood Egbert on a flight heading west from Chicago. He was on the job for only 37 days at the time and was simply brainstorming design ideas.
He took his doodles back to Raymond Loewy, the famous French-American designer whose firm had done work for Studebaker in the past, specifically during World War II. Only now he was charged with bringing Egbert's design concept to life in an effort to attract younger buyers to the troubled brand. Together with his design team, Loewy created the Avanti in just 40 days. The final product was a radical departure from nearly everything Studebaker had ever done and stood out even amongst other automakers' models. Its body was made from fiberglass and utilized a platform shared with the compact (and extremely ugly) Lark.
Power came from a 4.7-liter 240 horsepower V8 mated to a four-speed slushbox. It had its debut at the 1962 New York Auto Show and was generally well received for its unconventional and daring design. Technologically speaking, the Avanti featured Dunlop front disc brakes and an optional Paxton supercharger. However, Studebaker itself was in trouble and only some 4,600 units were built by '63. The Avanti had a great start - it even served as the honorary pace car at the 1962 Indianapolis 500 - but it was simply too little too late for the automaker. It's since become a sought after collector's piece and this particular example up for sale on eBay is no exception.
The current owner has had it for four years and has done some major restoration work, specifically to the interior which has been redone in the original Turquoise color. It also features a new headliner, step plates and black carpeting. The dash has also been completely restored and the gauges all work. This Avanti comes with the optional Paxton supercharger and has just 14,400 miles on the odometer. It has an asking price of $27,900 which is pretty decent considering the amount of work it's received so far. About a decade or so ago, it also had a complete frame-off restoration.