Cohort Outtake: Avanti II Convertible – Raymond Loewy Must Be Spinning In His Grave

I kind of got the early idea behind the Avanti II, to put it back in production beyond its early death in 1964, after Studebaker closed its South bend factory. On the other hand, the original Avanti never sold very well, so it was kind of a stretch to think that it would in its reincarnated form.

But somehow the Avanti became some kind of touchstone, and it just wouldn’t die, even if its styling was very much a product of the early 60s, and not really truly a great design. It was bold and different, but Loewy wasn’t really a good car designer, and left it to his hired designers to come up with something that he could then approve. But the Avanti is the closest thing there is to a genuine Loewy design, and like his other one-offs he built for himself, it’s got some…issues.

But that’s nothing compared to what it morphed into in the later years, like this Avanti II convertible, probably from around 1990 or so. Ouch!


William Rubano shot this at a storage facility and posted it at the Cohort. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an AII convertible, but it sure isn’t working for me. Starting with the terrible gap around the hood. Build quality was never a strong suit with its fiberglass body, but I’ve never seen an original Avanti with such a bad hood gap. And of course the atrocious efforts at updating it are painful. But most of all, that steep windshield, which was a contentious issue in 1963, looks utterly absurd in a car from the 90s.


The wrap-around cockpit dash was innovative in 1963, but soon everyone had them. This looks like a gussied up 70s’ camaro version.


I’m sorry, but this is simply awful. And it’s anything but a tribute to what was a fresh and rather exciting design in 1963; it’s a desecration.


And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s this four door sedan, which looks all the world like one of those safety concepts from the mid-70s.

My tribute to the brilliant but flawed original Avanti is here.