Sometimes you miss a photo opportunity, and sometimes you get a second chance. The first time this gorgeous, first-year 1963 Studebaker Avanti passed me in my neighborhood on my daily morning walk to the Red Line train into the Chicago Loop, I was so shocked by what was passing me that I fumbled my camera and missed getting a clear shot. Sheer frustration. Three days later, I heard a low, baritone V8 rumble increasing steadily from behind me, slowly turned around, and there it was.
Fall was in full swing, and I imagined the owner / driver as enjoying the last couple months of clear roads and crisp, fall air before putting the Avanti in storage for the winter. These inaugural-year ’63 models do the most for me, with their round headlights. (Every subsequent model year, while still very attractive, has the appearance of “wearing glasses”, with their rectangular headlamp housings–to me, anyway.)
I find these cars irresistible. The original Avanti is still such a beautiful, almost-timeless piece of automotive sculpture–over half a century after making its debut. Look at that graceful profile and delicate greenhouse. The flipped-out rear quarter windows and wire wheels are just icing on the cake. The health club I belong to, two blocks south of this intersection, had once been a Studebaker dealership (the “Studebaker” crest above the second floor was an architectural element which was retained after the building’s renovation), and I wondered if this car could have sat proudly in the former showroom where I do cardio.
This gentleman was clearly on his way somewhere on this Friday morning, and this coupe moved smartly out from the stop sign at the intersection – making sweet, Studebaker 289 V8-powered music as it went. And before you know it, this Avanti was going…
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, October 10, 2014.
CC: 1963 Studebaker Avanti – Flawed Brilliance by Paul Niedermeyer