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opinions about restoration


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Hi again. I haven't posted much. This pandemic has given me so much more to do in my business(I'm a contractor) what with labour shortages and material shortages, that I just haven't had time. Anyway.

I am almost ready to buy my first Avanti. I have numerous choices but don't know which is the better way.I have heard arguments both ways

1] buy the best car you can and go from there

2] buy the cheapest you can find and start there.

I'm 70 now, and thinking to retire in a year or two. My retirement gift from my wife is a mid 60's-mid 70's restomod. Either finished before purchase by others, or a basket case that I have done myself, to my spec.

The backstory. In 1963 when I was just 12, Studebaker came out with the Avanti. i immediately fell in love with it, and from then until my last move about 10 years ago I had an AMT Avanti plastic model car. I've lusted after one for all this time. About 10 years ago, I almost bought one, but it just didn't happen. Now, once again, I have a chance.
The choice is: do I buy a well preserved one, (price range 20-30,000 U.S.)and modify it, or a car in need of work(I have 4 on my list right now: one for $1500, one for $3000 (both run and drive) another for 6800(doesn't drive)and another for $8800(no motor, good body).
In an ideal world, It will get a crate engine, new interior, new front chassis clip(Art Morrison makes one specific)and of course a slick paint job. Believe it or not, my wife is ok with me spending this much money on the car ( I know it could approach 6 figures), provided I sell my daily driver (a 2016 Jaguar F-type ragtop)
I'm inclined to go for one of the cheap ones, since I'm replacing so much of it anyway, but I remember seeing Boyd Coddington and Dave Kindig, and Danny Koker saying get the best you can, you'll have less issues..
Of course, an Avanti is fibreglass, so the rust issue won't be there, so maybe the starting condition doesn't matter.

I'm given to understand that most or al parts particularly trim pieces, are available. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

A caveat: I am better with tools than some, but very very  far from what you might say skilled. The last time I did any serious mechanical work was probably 35 years ago. M plan is to do the dis-assembly, patchwork and body prep, cleanup, and then let the experts do the paint, interior and mechanical.
Looking for  opinions, or experience or advice, or all 3

We are also planning to restore my son's 89 Foxbody coupe (we've owned it for 15 years, but have let it sit, literally in my barn, for 7 years), so I hope to have a busy retirement

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I'd suggest that you look for the best 1966-83 Avanti you can find and do the upgrades to the engine, trans etc.

If you are dead set on the 63/64 round eyed version your choices become more expensive.

A very nice later Avanti should go for under $30K and leave you a ton of room for mechanical upgrades like an LS engine/trans combo. The Dana 44 rear will be plenty strong for this power.

Paint, hog troughs, body and frame repair not counting interior will get you close to $25K and will still nickel and dime you from there. It best to start with one that doesn't need all that work unless you can do the work like painting, etc.

I've done one Avanti in really poor condition because I do about everything so cost is reasonable but if I paid myself for my labor I wouldn't want to know what I've spent.

Starting with a good one and upgrading should get you on the road with a driver you will be proud and happy to drive for approx $50K or less. Now a show car is another story. 

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I normally suggest buying the best car that you can.  Since you want major modifications the situation is different.  Ideally, you can find a car with at least some of the major modifications already done.  If that is not possible, go with a post-Studebaker Avanti since you plan on not using the Studebaker engine anyway.  For example, a nice 1987 just sold for around $7K.  For any Avanti that you consider, the main item of concern is lack of rust in the frame and torque boxes.  

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Not an unreasonable thing to do to put round headlights on a later car.  Doing some glass work will give you a chance to get rid of the luggage rack, sun roof and gas cover lock too.  With the body off, you can put it back with whatever angle you want to the stance - I like the early ones

Ed M

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Agree, buy the best car cosmetically and mechanically you can find.  Look for a A II without a sunroof.   The aftermarket sunroofs were a disaster; they leaked, delaminated and are expensive plague to get out.

The SBC is the least expensive part of a good car.  We can build a strong, durable 383" or 400" for cheap.

The 4-speed overdrive automatic is a real plus also.

jack vines

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Has anyone made a round headlight car out of a square headlight car?  I used to do fiberglass boat work and I don't think it would be too hard.  I have seen a couple of cars with the sunroof covered over.

Ed M

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Yes to answer your question. I have changed the headlights on my 73 to round. I was lucky and found a 63 that was being parted out and was able to use original fiberglass parts. Both inner and outer panels have to be changed to do the job correctly. Somewhat involved but nothing that is impossible. 

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11 hours ago, Ed M said:

Has anyone made a round headlight car out of a square headlight car?  I used to do fiberglass boat work and I don't think it would be too hard.  I have seen a couple of cars with the sunroof covered over.

Ed M

If you were to replace the nose panel with a '63, you would probably want to modify the slots for the bumper back-bars.  With the Avanti II body sitting higher on the frame than the '63, the slots are too tall.  If you compare a '64 Avanti and a II side by side, you can see the difference in the slots by looking at the distance between the top of the slot and the headlight bezel.

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I agree to buy the best car you can. When I was looking for a Healy 3000 I had a friend a friend that owned a Morgan. His advice was to go to a national show and buy whatever wins first place.  I've never done it as I didn't have the money but when I did buy I didn't buy it to sell.  I keep my cars a long time and improve them slowly.  I seldom lose money.  I bought a $8,000 non running car with good hog troughs.  The car has almost every option and 4 speed and now has MSD ignition, FI Tech fuel injection, roller cam, roller rockers,  Dubz Thermal radiator and recapture tank,  relocated battery, Michelin tires, Rocket wheels, rebuilt front suspension, new exhaust, and at present a/c is being refreshed with new hoses and a new Sanden compressor, plus  all new gauges but needs paint and carpet.  But when I look what I see advertised, I could buy a better looking car for far less money than I have in mine. 

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I normally would agree with  "buy the best Avanti you can afford and go from there"....however, considering you're considering replacing the entire chassis, drivetrain, interior, and paint....I think you should probably look to buy the cleanest Avanti BODY you can find, (hopefully accident free and unmodified), and not be too concerned about the condition of that car's other aspects.....Just a thought!....Good luck with your quest!!:)

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Just now, mfg said:

I normally would agree with  "buy the best Avanti you can afford and go from there"....however, since you're considering replacing the entire chassis, drivetrain, interior, tires and wheels, brakes, and paint....I think you should probably be looking to buy the cleanest Avanti BODY you can find, (hopefully accident free and unmodified), and not be too concerned about the condition of that car's other aspects.....Just a thought!....Good luck with your quest!!:)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks guys. I am now leaning towards a 75 that's available locally.(I'm in Toronto, Canada). The car is a 10 footer, good shape mechanically, and the ask is $20 grand CDN. I'm hoping I can bargain him down a bit. Then, since I have a running driving car, I can start to do upgrades in stages. First, I think, would be to do up the interior and freshen it up a bit. A year or so later probably the chassis and engine, then eventually a killer paint job.

Doe anyone have pictures of Avanti's with some sort of customized front end? Different headlights, an upper grille, anything like that?

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4 hours ago, Quicksilver said:

Thanks guys. I am now leaning towards a 75 that's available locally.(I'm in Toronto, Canada). The car is a 10 footer, good shape mechanically, and the ask is $20 grand CDN. I'm hoping I can bargain him down a bit. Then, since I have a running driving car, I can start to do upgrades in stages. First, I think, would be to do up the interior and freshen it up a bit. A year or so later probably the chassis and engine, then eventually a killer paint job.

Doe anyone have pictures of Avanti's with some sort of customized front end? Different headlights, an upper grille, anything like that?

Since you asked, here's a couple of videos of my 74 after many years of reconstruction. Of course it started as a $3500 rough model but a ton of body/frame work, a 383 stroker motor, T56 six speed and a redone interior got it to here. 

Just one thought, please don't even consider an upper grill on it.

I started this when I was about 70 and finished it (kinda) at 77, you can do it.

 

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On 11/24/2020 at 8:37 PM, Avanti83 said:

Since you asked, here's a couple of videos of my 74 after many years of reconstruction. Of course it started as a $3500 rough model but a ton of body/frame work, a 383 stroker motor, T56 six speed and a redone interior got it to here. 

Just one thought, please don't even consider an upper grill on it.

I started this when I was about 70 and finished it (kinda) at 77, you can do it.

 

Very nice. The interior is very well done. Personally I'd keep the original dash profile but yours looks very professional

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On 11/24/2020 at 6:37 PM, Avanti83 said:

Since you asked, here's a couple of videos of my 74 after many years of reconstruction. Of course it started as a $3500 rough model but a ton of body/frame work, a 383 stroker motor, T56 six speed and a redone interior got it to here. 

Just one thought, please don't even consider an upper grill on it.

I started this when I was about 70 and finished it (kinda) at 77, you can do it.

Way cool! As someone who has a 383 stroker in mine, I just love the rumble of the exhaust. Speaking of which...where are the exhaust tips? Looks like you have an AMC sourced horn button cover. Re: upper grille. If you check out page 27 of Andy Beckman's "Last Dance" book on the Avanti, you'll notice the clay model produced in Palm Springs had an upper grille. Pure blasphemy to most owners!

 

 

On 11/24/2020 at 6:37 PM, Avanti83 said:

 

 

Edited by Desert Driver
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Thank you, the exhaust dumps in front of the rear axle. I'm going to fab a set of oval Boom Tubes that will exit in front of the rear wheels. The entire wheel and horn button are AMC (as you noted), I bought an entire column cheap at a swap meet to get the wheel, ring and spare parts for my original 74 tilt column.

I've seen the designed upper grill and a couple others and they just don't fit my idea of an Avanti look. I don't even like the "vee" trim Loewy put on his personal car.

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Hopefully that's your car. I must say that I would not have thought I'd like flared fenders but it looks right on this one. The hood vents fit the theme well and the side vents are a touch of styling genius. You don't happen to have a side view straight on, I love to see the profile with the fenders and bigger wheels.

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10 hours ago, Avanti83 said:

Hopefully that's your car. I must say that I would not have thought I'd like flared fenders but it looks right on this one. The hood vents fit the theme well and the side vents are a touch of styling genius. You don't happen to have a side view straight on, I love to see the profile with the fenders and bigger wheels.

If only my wallet was as big as my dreams! This beautiful Avanti GT is the work of AOAI member Larry Gibson of Ontario, and his son. The car was featured in a previous Avanti magazine article, but Gibson's website has all the details and photos  https://www.gibsonmotorsports.ca/single-post/2016/03/15/avanti-gt

Side photos? You bet! I sleep better at night knowing Larry's Avanti GT has the same steering wheel and transmission shifter as mine. And that's about it!

 

IMG_6823.JPG

IMG_5335 (2).JPG

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Great link, thanks. I don't remember it from the magazine but it's bookmarked and I'm going to give it a good read or two.

I didn't realize it had been shortened from the above shots but it looks spectacular modified this way.

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