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tvrgeek

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OK, I am a little British car guy. But I have dreamed of an Avanti since probably when they were introduced. I drove up to NJ a while back and drove a "restored" and I use that word loosely, series II and it drove like a worn out Lark. Not sure the steering wheel was attached to anything, Engine had less power than my MGB, the interior was cheap vinyl, and it looked jacked up and ungainly. Discouraged, but I have not given up. I am sure it was just a messed up car.  ( Fancy resell red paint job was the main restoration I believe)

I am about ready for my next project.  I want more of a GT, not a sports car.   It needs automatic, and AC.  Room for luggage.  It needs to be the car that when I go to the garage, I naturally get in it.  I believe with very little effort any of the Avanti's could be tweaked to fit that bill. It should not be much harder than getting an old Mustang to be reasonably civil.  I understand it is a 60's car built on a 50's running gear.  I don't expect it to handle like my GTI or cruse like a Lexus. It should drive as well as my Sonoma, which is quite serviceable. 

Can the Lark front steering be made reasonably precise, or does it need major replacement?   Just a bad steering box and worn out links, or does it need something different? It does look like a Rube Goldberg design. 

Regular Hochkiss rear drive. Not a problem to deal with.

Should be able to do disk power brakes with not too much difficulty. 

Crate SBC and newer 700R should fix the engine. 

Other than the hog troughs on the Lark chassis, what should I be looking for?    Can the late  ugly bumper cars be made to look like intended?  ( I have done plenty of FG work.)   Which forums should I be lurking in to figure what I should go for?  Any unobtainable parts I need to be sure are n good nick for whatever I buy? 

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Welcome and good luck.  To start with, all Avantis have power disc brakes, at least on the front.  Sometimes very minor corrections in the front suspension/steering can bring the car back to the way it should be.  It should drive like a late 1950s car, not a new car, but it should not feel like the steering wheel is not attached to anything.  All Avantis through 1985 were on the Studebaker chassis.  Avantis from 1987- 2007 are on more modern GM or Ford chassis.  Look around a bit before jumping on one.    

EDIT: The Studebaker Drivers Club has a very active Forum.

Edited by studegary

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If you are going SBC/700R4 then buy the later II version 1966-85 or 66-83 if you like the chrome bumpers, it will be a drop in as they came with the SBC and the OD trans is a bolt on/in. When I bought my 83 it had steering very much like you describe. When I took it in for an alignment the shop said it needed a rebuild before it could be aligned. I opted for a complete rebuild which I did in my garage with about $1000 in parts including rebuilt kingpins. I added KYB shocks and urethane bushings to the swaybars. The tires are about double the footprint of the originals and radials.

I may not be a vette but it does steer straight and the ride and steering are pretty precise for the origin of the suspension. A comfortable roadworthy driver.

Rearend is a widely used Dana 44 that has great dependability and parts availability.

Along with the hog troughs take a good look at the frame particularly from the front rear spring mount over the axle including the rear cross member. Also remember a paint job is not cheap so either figure one into the purchase price or buy one already done.

Nothing against a period Mustang but you'll be passing yourself consistently. Not so much with an Avanti. 

Bob

Edited by Avanti83

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Is it possible to retrofit a late bumper car with earlier chrome or repo bumpers? 

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1 hour ago, tvrgeek said:

Is it possible to retrofit a late bumper car with earlier chrome or repo bumpers? 

"Possible", yes.  Easy or practical, no.

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In a solid well restored Avanti II the only real component that show it 50s - 60s heairitge is the front steering.  The fiberglass body, engine drive line and accessories are on par with many modern restoration vehicles.  The vehicle is light, has good power and performance and relates very similar to mid 70s Corvettes except for the steering.  (Which is very similar in the C3 Corvettes)

A Restored front suspension at best is just an acceptable feel when compared to modern cars with rack and pinion steering.  The vehicle handles well, rides well, and is reasonably fast.  And it looks fabulous!

I share your concerns about the front suspension and may eventually look at converting to a modern steering rack, but otherwise most of the components are serviceable as they are.  

My vehicle already has has a SBC with a 700R4 overdrive, working air and heater, chrome bumpers, and well restored components and really nice paint. So it did not need much and was very drivable when purchased. A tire upgrade was my first improvement and next comes an alignment and tweaking the electrics and maybe some day upgrading the steering.  

As is, it’s a really very drivable and usable and a comfortable vehicle.  Eventually a redo of the vinyl interior to a custom leather might really spice her up!  

As a Corvette guy, I have always admired the Avanti as a 4 seat Corvette.  It pretty much fills that bill for me, I love my Avanti II.

 I am not a purist, and a mid 70s Avanti is not as collectible as an early Studebaker Avanti, so doing a little retr- mod is acceptable to me, but I would not do that to an early Avanti, those I would want to restore and keep stock.  The later models Avanti IIs with the SBC are semi custom cars to start with, so a little upgrade and customizing seems acceptable to me!  

Buy a good one and do your thing!  ED3205F1-EC7E-406E-8C3D-8739D41D5D6E.thumb.jpeg.7bf48a501f1090158cfabe83f8e93470.jpeg

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Thanks for the advice.  I am continuing to do research and planning on looking at another one next week.    It occured to me the "fix" for the 305 is not a 350, but a 4.3! 150 Lbs lighter, 100 more HP right out of an S10.    Of course, nothing wrong with a 350 and a lot can be done to the 305. I hope I am not too over-sensitive about the steering. I am used to LBCs which have run racks since the 50's, but a box can work. For example, the Alpine I looked at yesterday used a linkage just as complicated as the Lark and it works fine. ( a rust free car that meant only all four wings and both rockers were were paint over air)  

It seems late cars are probably better cars, but I guess I really want an earlier II chassis as it is what says Avanti to me. 

Never been a purist, but believe in mods that stay within the spirit of the car. If you want something else, buy something else.  I did a 5.0 in a 2500M, much in the spirit of the TVR 302 prototype. A few electrical changes made a trip in my Morgan a destination, not an adventure. The 5 speed I am putting into my B just relaxes the highway cruise.  I believe in making it work as designed before doing mods. New chassis rubber, modern tires, gas shocks, tight links etc. Only then can you know if the design needs changing or it was purely a maintenance issue.  The first one I drove was a "restored" car than meant it was painted with 30 year old parts. 

 Maybe I'll get one and find out it really is a 50's Stude, and go back to British cars,  but I just have to have one. Bucket list goal.  I can see me being able to drive it for as long as I can drive. I can't see me folding up in my B when I m 80.  RIght now, the only competition is a 67 or 68 Cougar.  Chassis is just as bad ( I had several Mustangs) but like the Avanti, I just seem to like it. Of course the Fords are called "rustangs" for a reason.  Not sure I am up for 6 months of metal work on a rotisserie again. 

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My '63 Avanti had a "loose" feeling steering system when I got it and I was concerned about what it would take to fix. I shouldn't have been... If your bushings and kingpins are worn, replace them. Mine weren't so I gave them a good shot of grease. If your P/S pump is weak, fix it. Mine was so I did. If your steering box is loose, rebuild it or adjust it. Mine only needed PROPER adjustment, which is a critical part of a tight steering system. If your bell crank is sloppy, fix it. Mine was but it wasn't worn at the bushings so I installed the proper shims and tightened down the cinch bolt. If it seems to want to wander, align it. Mine did so getting this done right was critical! I started with a basic machine alignment at a good garage and tweaked it from there. Remember that it does NOT align the same when radial tires are fitted.

The end result of all this is that it is now one of the tightest handling Studes I have owned (30+) over the years, and this is with a heavy supercharged Stude V8 up front.

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Hello, Norm and other Avanti owners.  I just got new wheels for this '63. Really sets it off.  It was pulling to the right after putting the new wheels on.  We replaced all the bushings, tie rods, etc.  It needed it badly.  Problem is when I had it aligned properly the steering wheel is crooked.  Alignment shop tells me that there is not sufficient thread left on the tie rods to align the steering wheel.  They want to rebuild it....much $. I do have a bellcrank shim and seal kit.  Do you think it would make any difference in the straightness of the steering wheel to install this shim and seal kit?  Or do you have any ideas to offer me to straighten my steering wheel without sinking so much money into rebuilding the whole system.  I'm prepared to hear a grim diagnosis if warranted.  I would appreciate your input in this regard.  Dan

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Find another shop and no to your question.

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What studegary said.

There are areas of the steering linkage that can wear but if it is so severe that it can't be set up for basic alignment you would find the problems post haste. I had a Lark with worn upper and lower pins on one side. They were SO worn that the outer shells were cracked and the pin was oval. This was found about 3 minutes after I got the car up on my hoist. It was still mostly aligned even with this problem, but it was really sloppy to drive. You need a second opinion.

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When all the front suspension and steering parts are new and tight and properly aligned, the Avanti steering and handling need no apology.  They're fine for a daily driver.  FWIW, I've seen more Avanti screwed up by conversion to R&P and/or aftermarket front clips than I've seen improved.

Same with the front disc brakes.  When they're new and right, they are fine for a daily driver.

jack vines

 

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I concur with Jack as it seems all too common to trash the Dunlop/Girling Disc Brake setup which was chosen as OEM for Avantis and Performance Hawks and Larks. If you may recall originally they were intended to be used to stop a Jaguar Mark 10 which is close to 1000 lbs heavier than an Avanti. I am sure that if all is rebuilt back to factory specs and no corners are cut they will perform adequately. Don't forget Jaguar raced with these at LeMans.I have used the 2 1/4" Stainless Steel pistons from Hye-Dra-Cyl Corporation http://www.hyedracyl.com/etype.html (HDC Part # 8777-14) which give an ADDITIONAL 15 % clamping force if required. These are also the same as used on early Toyota Crown full size cars although somewhat difficult to source these days

Bill.

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