As promised at the end of my last post about imaginary AI-generated 1975 Studebaker Larks, I’m working on working on what mid-70’s Avantis might have looked like if Studebaker had stayed in business. I’m not thrilled with the results.
While the AI is doing the heavy lifting of actually creating the pictures, what I end up showing you depends on what prompts I give the AI and which images I choose to upscale (render with more detail). And all of that is very much dictated by my own biases, preconceived notions, and expectations.
In any case, I was churning out lots of credible sporty-looking cars but they lacked a clear lineage to the original Avanti. Also, every car had thin 1960’s blade bumpers instead of 5-mph girders or an Endura nose cap.
One way to get around this is to provide a reference image. Thus far I’ve avoided doing that for this project because a) the AI can be too literal and just creates variations of the reference image and b) part of the reason for this project was to see what the AI could do.
However, through working on another project I learned that I could use multiple reference images to achieve the desired result. For example, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get it to depict a whistle laying on a blue pillow. However, when I fed it separate images of a whistle and a pillow, I got exactly what I needed, and it didn’t look like it was a copy of either image. Success!
So, in a fit of desperation I tried this technique on the Avanti. In addition to my normal Avanti prompt, I fed it three reference images:
- An early Avanti
- A 1975 Chevy Laguna (for the Endura nose)
- A Porche 928 (for un-chromed nose with visible round headlights)
It came out much more period-correct than my previous attempts. The nose is unique, though I think it would work better in all red. The boy may have gotten too much GM-flavor from the Laguna. In any case, there’s a tease of my next What If post.
The feedback on the AI Larks was varied, ranging from “yeah, I can see that” to “no way.” To each their own. But I thought, why not try the Lark with reference images and see if I can get a better (if maybe less honest) result.
As a baseline, I asked the AI for a 1975 Studebaker Lark without any reference images. It gave me four possibilities.
Of those, I chose to upscale this one. (Note that the upscaling process isn’t just re-rendering the image at a higher resolution. It further refines the image and adds or changes details. Sometimes upscaling adds or removes headlights).
Now let’s try it with reference images. For my first image, let’s use a 1966 Studebaker Cruiser from a Tom Halter Auction Classic post.
To get the correct bumpers and 1970’s aesthetic, I chose a 1975 Chevy Nova from Jason Shafer’s Nova Custom post.
As usual, I got four choices. I discarded the first as looking too much like a Nova from the sides and the third and fourth for having weird shadows covering parts of the body.
So Number Two got upscaled. The usual weird details aside (what are those things on the hood?), how do you think this compares to the Larks from my previous post? Is using reference images gaming the system for these posts?
but, but… there WERE mid-70s Avantis. And 80s Avantis. And 90s Avantis.
And Avantis into the early 21st Century, at least according to Wiki-p.
I know, that’s why I said “if Studebaker survived.” The Avanti survived. Studebaker did not. So my question is what would have happened if Studebaker updated and refreshed the Avanti.
Using reference images definitely seems to have improved the results. The Avanti still looks a little bit too much GM (especially in the wheel arches), but still very plausible. Keep them coming!
Other than legible badges and getting rid of those weird artifacts on the fenders, the only thing I’d correct about #2 is to square up the top corners of the windshield, since everything else looks like it could’ve been done over the old hard points in use as of 1966.
Give it body side moldings lower down the sides, square headlights and some of the chrome replaced by black trim and you’d have a 1982 Studebaker Lark.
These are all very unpleasant to look at.
Perhaps the idea that Studebaker wanted their 1960-era Larks to look like they did is an error. The Lark was never a fresh start, so I’m confident that the auto stylists weren’t thrilled with how they turned out. By 1958, the Studebaker was a five year old serving of Hamburger Helper. Cutting out the spices to create the Lark the next year might have been a fresh start, but it was still old hash. There was a lot to improve in the Lark’s look. Granted, they pulled it off for a few years, but in a way, they were as challenged by the original design, as AMC was with their old Ramber American of the same era.
With Studebaker, if you took a 1939 Champion and used AI to create the 1953 car – it would have never come close. Also, had you taken the 1953 Studebaker and asked it to design a 1963 Avanti – same thing, not even close. Studebaker didn’t evolve their styling when they had options. If Studebaker was still a player by 1973, there are many reasons to believe that their offerings wouldn’t have any Lark design touches in it.
Notwithstanding cars like the Mustang, with identities based on carrying certain memes across time, anyone designing a 1975 Lark would have started with a clean sheet of paper. We can’t look at these without the knowledge of 50 years piled on top, but as long as the design uses stylistically current ideas and tech, the car could really look any old way, and you couldn’t argue its authenticity. If a car seems “too GM” that’s not necessarily a useful complaint; I still have a hard time telling an AMC Rebel from a Road Runner.
I’m seeing lots of post-rooflift Lincoln Versailles in the sedan, though the front looks like it’s from a big Japanese or European import, or maybe one of those Australian ’70s cars that look like they could have been American cars but weren’t. The coupe has much Camaro/Firebird influence. I’m not seeing any Studebaker in any of these, but a real Stude from 1975 had they survived that long wouldn’t have looked like the ’60s versions either (whenever they got a chance to fully redesign a car, they tried to give it a new rather than evolutionary look).
I’m imagining Studebaker having an Argentine subsidiary that kept on going after its parent’s demise in the US, with low-budget restyles. Not unlike what was done with the Aero Willys and some others in that part of the world. In that way, it rather works, quite effectively, actually.
Looks like a USSR era mid level bureaucrat’s vehicle.
If you showed me the final Lark image without saying what it was, I would be scratching my head as to what JDM large car was I forgetting about. It definitely has that “70’s JDM big car using American styling cues” look. Probably more Mitsubishi Debonair than anything else.
The Avanti is not bad, although the AI managed somehow to re-create second-gen Camaro front fenders even though that wasn’t one of the reference images.
The AMC Matador sedan is my bar for bad, and out-of-date, 1970s domestic sedan styling. And I think this is below that bar. Looks more from 1965, than 1975.
The vent windows alone make it look dated.
You can add, the entire greenhouse. 🙂
At the time felt the same way. Wish we had gotten one of those “75ish, Matador sedans”. Would a lasted us till “1982-3”.
It (the 4 door) honestly looks like a late 70s Aussie Valiant in front and a Aussie GM Holden in rear side . Just a generic mashup
I love all of those Avantis. They’re better than Loewy. The second one with the rear ‘air intake’ is beyond perfect.
The Avanti reminds me a bit of the DeTomaso Pantera, although the net effect is more Chevrolet Laguna, perhaps inevitably.
The lead image looks more like a Toyota Cressida than anything else. Truthfully not a bad thing to be making and selling in 1975 or so as long as build quality and performance were good. Perhaps alternative universe Studebaker learned something from Mercedes-Benz during their tenure as North American distributor and learned some more from Toyota and AMC.
Neither of the reference images had the “kick up” in the door, which was characteristic of Studebaker sedans (as a relic of the incredibly piss-poor calamity that was the 1953 sedan styling in its attempt to mimic the Loewy coupe styling) up until the Brooks Stevens refresh, the latter of which was one of the reference images. So it’s weird that it reappeared here. Like Giugiario would have said, in imitation of what he said of the TR7 “they put it back! On both sides!”
As someone else said, very 1970’s JDM feel here. Which might be appropriate,because Studebaker might have been trying to capture that same market had they survived.
The Avanti looks weird. Like the took a Laguna front end and attached it to a Z28. Maybe using one of the 2000 Avanti’s, the ones built off a Mustang platform, as a reference image, might have helped things.
One of Studebaker’s last ditch ideas involved CKD assembly of Isuzu Belletts. This is what a 1975 Bellett looked like, so here it is!
Really, they had no path forward and left the business at just the right time: before anyone else lost any money on it.
I forgot the picture, not a handsome ride.
Indeed, I’m surprised to learn the Bellett lasted until 1975 (it’s a mid-’60s design) before being replaced by the GM T-Car.
The Avanti looks cool.
I see a little 2nd-gen Riviera, some Pantera, a bit of Rover SD-1 and a smidgen of Monteverdi HCI.
Works for me.
There are 2 full size styling mock-ups of the planned 1967 and newer Studebakers, in 2 and 4 door body styles. They are on display in the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. It might be worth getting a couple of photos of them from the museum staff, and submitting the photos to get a different result.
Been wanting to get to that museum for ages!
Some of those “generated variations” look like “1964”, artist renderings of cars in the “1970’s”.
The Nova is/was a handsome ride.
I can see why this would be a good 82 Lark. It has Matador vibes, which perhaps just for me isn’t bad, and it feels a solid compact from the age. It’s important to remember that the archetypal sedan from any decade has lots from the previous one….
The comments saying that it has Toyota Cressida genes, I think they are right, and that’s also good. Why not? There’s cross polination in the industry, now, then, ever.
Keep on the good work. Nobody can say how it would had turned out, so counterfacts, if not taken too seriously, are for me an entertaining exercise.
Maybe referencing cars that used the Avanti as a starting point may be better?
I don’t know what planet you are from, but your last picture is an almost exact replica of a 1974 Toyota Cressida. Look it up!! The things on the fenders is the mount for Japan mandated fender mirrors for home country right-hand drive vehicles. History of design should be your starting point, then look where design went to the boring homogenized designs of today. All lumps with wheels.
If there were real designers employed today, there might not be a need to try to imagine where iconic designs would be today because we would be there now!!
BTW the Jensen Interceptor design was derivative of the Iso Griffo, the De Tomaso Mangusta, and the Maserati Mexico, not the Avanti. Raymond Loewy designed that all by himself, along with his design of Air Force One, International Harvester logos, equipment, ergonomics, and hundreds of other famous designs. Look him up too. Very talented guy.