Yesterday was an unseasonably warm fall day here in the Middle West, the kind that usually brings out the classics. Today did not disappoint, and I was able to quickly snap a couple of photos of this 1983 Avanti II at a traffic light…
My beater farm truck wasn’t up to the task of keeping up with the Avanti, but hardly three minutes later I was passed by an AC Cobra (I don’t know them well enough to know whether it was original or a replica), and then spotted a “supercar” (maybe a Ferrari, not sure) across the highway median. I also noticed a late ’60s Pontiac GTO at a filling station when I came off at my exit.
In the bed of my truck were parts for our ’62 and ’63 Volkswagens. Since I had just picked them up from the sandblaster’s, I guess I can “technically” count myself among those other classics out enjoying a beautiful fall day.
I have always enjoyed that rare pleasure of seeing an Avanti (I or II) on the road under power. All these years after first seeing one, I can still gaze at that shape and all of the design details for almost an eternity.
I have written before that I tried to talk my father into getting an Avanti II in the 1970s. He even ordered literature. They were virtually hand built and you could choose any automotive paint color and the interior carpet and upholstery of your choice, from any source. I wonder with all that choice available, why the first buyer of this car would go with white? Oh well.
Also, I wonder what engine they were using by that time. An Avanti with a Chevy 350 would probably scoot pretty quickly. I would imagine that they may have gone to the 305 at some point, but have not looked it up.
Unfortunately the only Avanti I see around here is one of the hideous 4dr versions. What’s worse is that rather than leave bad enough alone the someone chose to put custom wheels on it. They are a bad early 90’s design and the combo of the offset and/or tire width means that the tires stick out past the fenders ~2″ and they are smaller than stock diameter too.
That sounds like the tire/wheel combo that I see on the GM “jumpers” around here, with the hydraulic suspensions, big speakers, and memorials to some junkie who died too early on the back window.
I think they started with the 327, then the 350, and I’m quite sure the 305.
I did some pretty serious MMing on an Avanti II also; in the late seventies and early eighties, its design still looked very contemporary, or downright even avant garde, compared to all the Broughams.
I didn’t like how they started trying to make it look more contemporary with time; talk about mucking up a clean design. And from the very get-go, I was mad at them for raising the front ride-height of the Avanti. It really changed its stance; the slight forward lean was an important and deliberate aspect of the original.
I saw a ’67 Electra convertible last night, red, sounded good. It’s nice to see so late in the year! Soon, all classics will be stored for winter.
I’d bet the Cobra was a fake, the replicas are way more common these days and really why not just have a replica anyway? It looks just as good, more modern mechanically, and if you wrap it up you won’t lose your ass or destroy a beautiful piece of history. Let the rich guys keep the real ones in their garages and polish them with a diaper.
We get to see the classics and S/I cars all year round in SoCal. It was upper 80’s today in LA as I was driving home on the 10 from mid-city out to the beach when I saw, in succession, a first generation Cressida with what appeared to be the original owner behind the wheel and a pristine old (historic vehicle plate) Morris Mini, driver’s window open and a sunburned arm leaning on the door, rolling along with the rest of the traffic. Many convertibles with tops down today. A continuing joy of living here is the great weather that helps to preserve old cars and to encourage the owners to drive and enjoy them on a regular basis.
I’ve never seen a post-Stude 4-door Avanti but see a few 1st gen cars around town, especially on week-ends. Beautiful cars and they still look stylish and modern.
What’s with the Shower Heads for exhaust tips?
Big Lots clearance shelf.
What parts were did you have in the truck for your Volkswagens? I assume they are Beetles?
VW guy here, you can be specific 😉
Front beams (plus the spare steel wheel from my ’00 NB which is getting resprayed white to match my other wheels). Sadly, the two Old Beetles have sat most of the summer with little progress. Hoping to get the pans back on rubber over the winter, tho.
Interesting fact on the Avanti 4-door: they were based on the Chevy Caprice, including the chassis and V8 engine. Yes, under that tortured version of the classic original Avanti design beat the heart of our beloved B-body!
(image from productioncars.com)
I suppose I understand the impetus to add a four door, but what an unfortunate result. The aircraft-style door frames ruin it for me; the boxiness of the windshield just doesn’t lend itself to that approach.
Interesting, never new that.
Thanks for that info and pic, Tom. I’m familiar with some of the Avanti II iterations over the years (see a convertible here once in a while) but somehow the production of a 4-door escaped me – and I’ve never seen one. Not quite as bad as the Porsche Panamera, a car I see frequently in SoCal (where sales are strong) and one that to me just looks bad from nearly every angle.
The rear end of this Avanti reminds me of the last 1990-92 Olds Toronado in the back.
I use to see Ed McMahon self serving his own Avanti Conv. @ Sunset/Doheny chevron- id also see ricky schroeder in a big truck there. But I Was admiring The Black convertible, when I wondered What Type of person the owner might be, Looked him up and down, recognized who it was, let it register, nods exchanged… nice car! He gave a tip of his hat, sweet. I’ll always remember Ed for that, as I do Johnny for racing up Barham Av in his Delorean against me in rush hour.
> Today did not disappoint, and I was able to quickly snap a couple of photos of this 1983 Avanti II at a traffic light…
Good find on the Avanti. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one aside from at car shows. I looked at this article last night on my new phone and was impressed that you figured out the model year. Now that I revisited it on my PC, I see that it’s obvious. 🙂
Home Depot parking lot, San Carlos CA, 4/23/12, factory original:
A Gen-U-Wine Studebaker. The little emblem on the C pillar was not used on the AII. No “Supercharged” badge on the front fender, either, so probably a basic 4 bbl 289. Wow would I like to have that. I spent many happy hours in and around the red 64 Avanti R2 owned by my buddy Tim’s dad.
I spoke briefly to the owner, but didn’t get any details. He told me he’d had it for a couple of years, and used it as an occasional driver.
The thing that always struck me was that Studebaker did a first class job on the interiors of these cars. Not flashy like the T-Bird, but in more of a “gentleman’s sports car” kind of good taste. I can even find fault with the Hawk interiors, as there are places where cost-cutting compromises show. Not so with these.
Full instrumentation for sure, in a tasteful and understated design. Even a vacuum gauge over on the right. Did you notice t he wrapped segments on the wheel where your hands rest?
I’d love to have one of these myself, although I’m not sure what I’d do with it.
The gauge layout is real impressive — a vacuum gauge AND a tach is really nice…although I figured they’d put those two guys closer to each other. But the spokes on the steering wheel don’t block the gauges & are at a nice angle.
I bet that car is a blast to drive.
Those gauges look like they were sourced straight out of a J.C. Whitney catalog…
I think straight out of the Stewart-Warner catalog, actually.
At one time JCW sold S-W and VDO gauges.
The Avanti is in my humble opinion, the best looking American car-ever. The original Rivera and the Corvette Sting Ray maybe a close second. From what I’ve read the Avanti II used a variety of Chevy engines, I think they started with the 327, went to the small block 400 in the early 70’s and by the early 80’s were using the Chevy 305. The Avanti is one of the few cars that still looks quite current today…most vehicles from that ear today simply look quaint. Sometime in the 80’s Tom Kellog(who was one of the designers working under Raymond Lowey’s supervision) came up with a new version; it was nice but I have always preferred the original design. There has never been anything like it again, in my estimation.
It was my recall that they overreached with the updated design. They spent a bunch of money and modernized the car, then went belly-up. As long as it had stayed a low-budget custom car operation, it worked. But there was no way that the vehicle could support the kind of volume that would have been necessary to pay for all of the upgrades.
My understanding is that they generally were fitted with whatever standard Corvette drivetrain was current. Couldn’t swear to it though.
Never realised how good the Avanti looks from behind. Living as I do on the “wrong” side of the pond, I don’t think I’ve seen one in the metal/plastic.
Nice Avanti, Went to the Stude Museum in S Bend a couple of weeks ago. Worth the trip. If you are in the neighborhood check out the ACD museum in Auburn as well.
The only Avanti I’ve ever seen was in pieces. Some ten years ago or so on weekends, I would occasionally see signs for garage sales. I’d be on my way to or from golf, so sometimes I’d stop. One place had an Avanti totally stripped down. The owner was in the middle of a restoration. I think the body was fiberglass.
As far as driving classics are concerned, one of the few benefits of having cars with limited value and collectibility, is driving them on decent fall, winter,and spring days. I try to drive mine all year, but never in snow. Getting caught in the rain or a clickity clack of a stone is no big deal.
I would hate to drive a high end classic. Too stressful for me, anyhow. No matter how careful, an occasional scratch or nick is imminent.
That’s why I want a Beck Spyder, and wouldn’t really want an original Porsche 550 even in an alternate universe where I could afford one (they’re pushing mid-7 figures these days). You can build out a Beck to functional interchangability with an original for about the cost of a Camry, and if you prang it, you haven’t written off a chunk of history.
I know where there’s an Avanti sitting in a yard in Tacoma with tall grass around it, and old black/green fir pollen that looks like moss all over it. It’s close enough to through streets that I figure I’d be seen as another pest if I went up there and asked about it, so I haven’t. It’s been there for three or four years that I know of. Sad.
I hate going out with no camera now I spotted a 14hp Vauxhall in traffic on Thursday reached down no camera mint old car with elderly lady at the wheel and yesterday saw a 34 Ford pickup with a Farm name and Iowa on the door no bloody camera again.
I think they really ruined the Avanti II when the thin chromed bumpers (like the original) went away. The integrated bumpers just look wrong on that car!