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Avanti Jim

Newbie questions

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I just bought a 1980 Avanti II here in Fort Worth, TX and I'm new to this forum.

1. Is there a place on this website to search archived topics? 

2. Is there a place where OEM parts are listed by specific year for Avantis?

3. Is Nostalgic Motors still in business? If so, how do I get in touch with them?

4. Has anyone considered creating a YouTube channel for information and repairs specific to the Avanti?

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28 minutes ago, Avanti Jim said:

I just bought a 1980 Avanti II here in Fort Worth, TX and I'm new to this forum.

1. Is there a place on this website to search archived topics? 

2. Is there a place where OEM parts are listed by specific year for Avantis?

3. Is Nostalgic Motors still in business? If so, how do I get in touch with them?

4. Has anyone considered creating a YouTube channel for information and repairs specific to the Avanti?

1 - Not here, but go to Bob Johnstone's website and you'll find a lot of info. http://www.studebaker-info.org/ Just click on tech help and search to you hearts content

2 - Not really, but there a ton of parts that fit all. There are a number of vendors that can handle parts questions and applications. https://www.studebakervendors.com/

3 - Nostalgic is still in business in Wixom Mi. Dan Booth, but he only does business by phone. Google nostalgic will get you the phone # or see vendors above

4 - nope.

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Thanks for your quick reply, Avanti83. I have read quite a bit on Bob Johnstone's website. I am impressed by this vast resource. While I'm a fan of many Studebakers, I only own the1980 Avant II. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a section applies to the parts on my car. I also don't know if parts on my car are original or not. I've already run into replacing an old incorrect part with an identical new incorrect part (aargh).

Thanks for the parts vendors link. I hadn't come across it yet. I understand that Dan at Nostalgic may still sell a reproduction of the white plastic windshield washer reservoir for my car. That would be nice.

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If you find a suitable Windshield Washer  reservoir replacement let us know. It is not high on my must due list but it is on my nice to do list.  

I have been chasing issues and solutions for 5+ years and finding great satisfaction in the chase and solving each issue as they come up. In my case time and $$ are the limiting factors not the list of problems to address.  

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Avanti Jim said:

Thanks for your quick reply, Avanti83. I have read quite a bit on Bob Johnstone's website. I am impressed by this vast resource. While I'm a fan of many Studebakers, I only own the1980 Avant II. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a section applies to the parts on my car. I also don't know if parts on my car are original or not. I've already run into replacing an old incorrect part with an identical new incorrect part (aargh).

Thanks for the parts vendors link. I hadn't come across it yet. I understand that Dan at Nostalgic may still sell a reproduction of the white plastic windshield washer reservoir for my car. That would be nice.

Remember these are essentially limited production cars built on a restricted budget that had to meet certain regulations and criteria. They just used what they could get to work and moved on. Documentation was not a strong suit. They were also custom built as they would do about anything to sell a vehicle so what's stock and not stock can be hard to unravel.

I use a lot of resources as I work on both of mine but questions on the forums are the best sources I've found. While Bob's site a mixture of Studes and Avanti's his search capability uses Google to search his site and will get pretty specific if a couple key words are used.

Bob

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I did get in contact with Dan Booth from Nostalgic Motors, Bill. He does have NOS Avanti windshield washer reservoirs for $120. I have the same issues as you with time and money. This reservoir may seem pricey, but it is a one-off part for a very limited production vehicle so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet.

Avanti83, I understand what you are saying. I knew that Avanti Motors hand-built these cars to buyer specifications, but I had no idea that they produced so few cars per year. It makes sense that, with such low production numbers, they would do what was necessary to get a car out the door with as little cost as possible. My limitations are similar. I want this car to be nice, but I don't plan to gold plate it. Just getting it on the road again is going to cost a bit of time and money. Having a group that doesn't mind newbie questions is a great resource in itself.

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2 hours ago, Avanti Jim said:

I did get in contact with Dan Booth from Nostalgic Motors, Bill. He does have NOS Avanti windshield washer reservoirs for $120. I have the same issues as you with time and money. This reservoir may seem pricey, but it is a one-off part for a very limited production vehicle so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet.

Avanti83, I understand what you are saying. I knew that Avanti Motors hand-built these cars to buyer specifications, but I had no idea that they produced so few cars per year. It makes sense that, with such low production numbers, they would do what was necessary to get a car out the door with as little cost as possible. My limitations are similar. I want this car to be nice, but I don't plan to gold plate it. Just getting it on the road again is going to cost a bit of time and money. Having a group that doesn't mind newbie questions is a great resource in itself.

There were 147 Avantis built for 1980.

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Exactly. I was expecting numbers in the 500-1000 per year range. Avanti Motors had no economies of scale. Studebaker (and AMC) could buy parts from suppliers by the hundreds of thousands. Even after acquiring the Studebaker factory and parts inventory for pennies on the dollar, Avanti II production costs must have been absolutely sky high.

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The biggest cost for Avanti Motors was less parts but labor.  The Avanti bodies used twice or more the man-hours producing than industry average.  I'm not discounting the costs of parts but the labor involved was behind Steve Blake's efforts in new body fabrication techniques and paint processes in an effort to lower man-hours per car which resulted in the company's ultimate failure.  Good ideas gone bad due to wishful thinking and not testing the new processes out before initiating full production.

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4 hours ago, Gunslinger said:

The biggest cost for Avanti Motors was less parts but labor.  The Avanti bodies used twice or more the man-hours producing than industry average.  I'm not discounting the costs of parts but the labor involved was behind Steve Blake's efforts in new body fabrication techniques and paint processes in an effort to lower man-hours per car which resulted in the company's ultimate failure.  Good ideas gone bad due to wishful thinking and not testing the new processes out before initiating full production.

The 1990 and 1991 Avantis were molded in big pieces and not MANY small pieces.  This cut labor way down.  Of course, there were other problems by that time.

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On 5/26/2019 at 9:16 PM, Avanti Jim said:

 

Avanti83, I understand what you are saying. I knew that Avanti Motors hand-built these cars to buyer specifications, but I had no idea that they produced so few cars per year. It makes sense that, with such low production numbers, they would do what was necessary to get a car out the door with as little cost as possible. My limitations are similar. I want this car to be nice, but I don't plan to gold plate it. Just getting it on the road again is going to cost a bit of time and money. Having a group that doesn't mind newbie questions is a great resource in itself.

I got a tour of the Avanti "plant" in around 1976-77.  Geoff Newman must've been given bum data about how likely I was to buy a new Avanti, as he spent a couple of hours with me.  One particular thing I remember was that if one ordered a new Avanti, you were invited to spend a couple of weeks at the factory helping to build your own car.  They started by welding the frame rails and cross members together, placed it on a low cart, then pushed it around the building as components were added.  A woman assembled the wiring harness by wrapping wires around nails strategically placed on big piece of plywood.  Others sewed up the interior pieces.  They would make them from whatever material you wanted -- including your grandmother's drapes.  They truly were built by hand.

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Wow, I understand the concept of building low production cars at rather high prices, but the concept normally offers fairly exclusive advanced engineering. Your audience becomes extremely limited if you're using dated systems (brakes, suspension, and steering) and off-the-shelf engines from another manufacturer. Though, I have to add that those engines make the car more easily serviced by any mechanic. It's just amazing that the company lasted as long as it did. You would think that they would adapt techniques to cut labor costs earlier. Then again, with such a small work force, cutting labor costs means laying off workers that have become family. You would think that this would have ended the company much earlier.

It seems to me that the company would have kept one item to continue its reputation for performance. The supercharged V8 was a huge attraction to the original Studebaker Avanti's. Why not supercharge the Chevy V8? Does the McCulloch supercharger prevent the installation of an AC compressor? If so, couldn't you just fit a heat-shielded turbocharger somewhere in that engine bay? A performance image is key to exclusive hand-built cars.

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There was a '67 or '68 Avanti II that was factory supercharged.  I've heard rumors of a second one but it may have been the same car in a different color.  Also...Nate Altman wasn't interested in pure performance...he wanted the Avanti to be a true GT, not a balls-to-the-wall performance machine.  He was more interested in the Avanti getting its owner to his destination quickly and in style...not in a race.

One reason why Avanti Motors stuck with the same technology so long is that there was a pretty significant supply of parts purchased from Studebaker and as parts began to run out they would introduce other parts as they could be sourced.  Possibly the biggest headache was having to meet increased government safety and emissions requirements which were no small matter.  They had some temporary waivers since Avanti Motors was classified as a small volume car maker but those waivers were only temporary and eventually they had to comply.

When Steve Blake purchased the company he tried to institute techniques to cut man-hours and other costs, but along with some questionable decisions otherwise financial ruin happened.

Edited by Gunslinger

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True. I guess the EPA would require emission recertification of an engine with any modification from original. My understanding is that the EPA certification process was both arduous and tremendously expensive with limited hope of success. Avanti motors was stuck selecting whatever unmodified engine a large manufacturer had already certified in a passenger car. There were not a lot of powerful engines to choose from. The only off-the-shelf super- or turbocharged American V8 that I can remember from this time period was the 1980-81 Pontiac 301 which put out only around 200 net hp. The L82 corvette 350 of 1980 put out 230 net hp.

This really limits the extent of your market. An expensive personal luxury car should stand out as a great performer, innovative, luxurious,  and unique to be successful. Even as early as 1967, the Avanti II was only luxurious and unique. Later added "safety" equipment requirements (like 5 mph bumpers) just skewed the original look and increased production costs. That was a very sad and difficult time in the auto industry. I know Cadillac certainly took a hit during that time period.

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You are correct about the cost of providing vehicles for EPA emissions testing.  I have a 74 with 4-speed, either the last or next-to-last one built with standard shift (until the Blake era, when more waivers were available for small manufacturers).  According to Geoff Newman, the reason was that beginning in 1975, the EPA required auto manufacturers to provide them with one vehicle with each engine/trans combination for testing -- and Avanti Motors couldn't afford to build two cars just for the EPA to test.  So it was easier to drop the stick shift and just loan them one car.

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