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Is it a 63 or 64?


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I recently inherited an Avanti that has been in my family since it was new. My grandfather passed it down to my father, and with my father's recent passing it has now came into my possesion. Unfortunately, my grandfather did not keep the best of records and I'm having a heck of a time figuring out exactly what year it is. It has the round chrome around the headlights which always made me (and my father) think it was a 1963 (and it's titled as a 63). But as I did some research into ordering some parts to replace on the car, I found many aspects of the car that make me think it might be a 1964 (such as round counsul knobs, style of name plate, etc). I realize most people use the square chrome around the headlights as the defining characteristic between a 63 and 64, but I also know they made 54 1964 cars with the round chrome around the headlights. From the documents I found on running changes as well as the production statistics chart I found, I'm pretty sure the car was made in August of 1963, which puts it right on the fence of what model year it is. I did order an original production order from the Studebaker museum, but it will be some time before I receive that. In the meantime, I'm in kind of a holding pattern for ordering parts and other things until I can figure out the exact year. The serial numer of the car is R4887. I found information that said the first 1964 Avanti was R4835. Some have said that R4892 was the first 64, but that is simply the one with the first square headlight frames. I was hoping someone out there with more experience and knowledge than I would have some information I've been unable to find to help me identify the year. I'd like to order the correct parts as well as the original owners manuals, etc., which will often differ from 63-64. I also am planning on joining AOAI as a member (my father was one) but would like to have the right year on the car when I register it with the organization. Any help anyone could give me on this would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

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You have my sympathies for the loss of your Dad. It's always tough to lose a loved one.

With Avanti's, round or square from headlights, it really doesn't matter what their VIN is or when they were made as much as how it was originally titled by the dealer. If it's registered as a '64, it's a '64. As far as parts, you go by the VIN to get the correct parts for repair or restoration.

Since Stude Avanti's didn't have a VIN code that designated model year, it wasn't uncommon at all for dealers to title one as a '64 regardless of assembly date. An R1 a friend used to own was titled as a '64 even though by serial number it was about 1000 units older than my '63 R1. Cars today have date codes in their VIN to keep such shennanigans from going on.

Your car may well be one of the few accepted as a "true" '64 instead of a '63 titled as such. It's kind of a transition car, with items installed that earlier cars and later cars don't have. Regardless, use the VIN for most purposes. That will be more accurate instead of using the model year in just about any case.

Welocme to the club and look forwrad to hear your experiences. A lot of help you might require is here as well.

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Thanks a bunch for the info Gunslinger. The information about the dealer titling older cars and the VIN numbers not indicating year or manufacture date as such is something I was unaware of. Being kind of "youngin" yet, I'm not as good with deciphering the system used to identify and track some of the classic cars. There's great info on the net about Avanti's and production numbers, but it seems to be inconsistent.

I expect the serial number will indeed be important for the ordering of parts. However many of the parts in the catalogs and on-line that are different between the 63 and 64 just simply state, "order this one for a 63, this one for a 64". I realize most parts are interchangeable regardless of the year, but there are always a few that aren't. I actually called a couple of the places to order parts and explained the situation and they weren't able to really tell me much beyond "if it's the wrong part just send it back and we'll send you another". I think it's reasonable to assume that the car may fall in that "transition" period where they were making several running changes. No big deal though. It's a beautiful car and I love a good challenge.

I imagine the production order I get in about a month or so should clear it all up for good, but if there's any other infomation our there, I'll take all I can get. My goal is to learn as much as possible. Despite the beauty of these cars, this one holds a very special place for me. I am very thankful for all the help already and for all the other help out there that will inevitably come my way.

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Avanti's are wonderful cars. They definitely have their quirks, but essentially everything is based on solid engineering. Most parts for an Avanti are available...sometimes pricey, but you can find just about any parts you need. I'm in the middle of a body-off reconstruction of a '70 Avanti II and there's only one small part I've been completely unable to find a replacement for...and it's just for aesthetic purposes anyway, not because it's malfunctioning.

The biggest problem I've run into with older cars, not just Avanti's, is undoing what past owners have done to them before something can be fixed correctly. In the Corvette fraternity it's referred to "Bubba mechanics" and Bubba does some strange and unsafe things to cars. Since your car has been in your family all these years, it doesn't sound like you'll have that headache to deal with.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. There's a lot of help here...lots of experience and hard won knowledge.

You have a special Avanti...all that family history attached to it. Again...welcome.

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Best thing to do is buy the parts manual. Most of the Serial number break points occur at 4892. You won't run into too many problems as most of the '64 specific changes center around a few trim items. Silver "S" vs. Gold for '63's in the "pirate buckle", parking light housings, front sway bar mounting, solid vs multi colored carpet, hood prop on passenger vs. driver, long battery vs. short, I could go on. Mechanically, the sway bar is the only thing I can think of at the moment.

Ernie R2 R5388

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Hi trek34l,

Sorry for your loss.

Rumor is that tere are about 35 to 50 transition cars. As they ran out of 63 parts . They started using 64 stuff, My 64 R4832 has the 63 heater controls, but has the small pirate buckels on the door panels. Did not understand the sway bar thing??

Karl Sparks

Edited by Twnchgr
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At some point a change was made from a mount that looked like a long bolt (earlier) to a more solid mount to the frame. The "S" in the plastic part of the Pirate Buckle on earlier cars was gold and then later changed to silver.

Good thing is that there are only a few things to be concerened about and those transition cars make for some great conversation and history.

Maybe when you receive the original build sheet you'll find the car that you thought was an R1 was originally manufactured as an R2!! That's what I learned about my car.

Ernie R2 R5388

Hi trek34l,

Sorry for your loss.

Rumor is that tere are about 35 to 50 transition cars. As they ran out of 63 parts . They started using 64 stuff, My 64 R4832 has the 63 heater controls, but has the small pirate buckels on the door panels. Did not understand the sway bar thing??

Karl Sparks

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Very good information here from everyone. I am so very appreciate for all the help. From what I've heard from everyone so far, I'd say I'm probably looking at one of those "transition" cars that is kind of a melding of both the 63 and 64. I'd say the car is some kind of "hybrid" in any case. I've got that long battery (feel bad going to farm store to get batter for a "sports" car - hehe), gold "S" on the hood emblem, hood prop on driver side, those rounded heater control knobs, all black interior, the smaller ignition key, and as Ernier said, I could go on. Good to know about the sway bar info. That is something I haven't heard about yet. I think ordering that parts manual is definitely the way to go. Think I guy can pick up the parts manual and the shop manual for about $20 on CD-ROM. My main concern was the mechanical, but from what I've seen the year doesn't look like it makes much of a difference in regards to that.

I'll have a few of those "modifications" that Gunslinger referred to to deal with, but the parts look like they are out there. Already bypassed an electric fuel pump that someone had put on, and the car has a manual choke as well, which I don't believe was standard (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Other than that, everything seems to be as much in order as I can tell. I'm sure the shop and parts manuals will be a big help once I get them. Nonetheless, I'm betting I'll be back here with questions as time goes on.

Once again, thanks to all that have posted so far.

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If you haven't done so already join the Studebaker Drivers Club and visit their forum. Between the two organizations there will be no question about your car that couldn't be answered.

How about a couple of pictures of the new arrival?

Ernie R2 R5388

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Manual chokes were not factory installed. The Carter AFB carburetors came with an automatic choke. If the car still has the original carb, either the choke is inoperative or someone didn't like it. Maybe the carb has been replaced?

Enjoy the car and share your experiences with us.

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I ran across the Studebaker Driver's Club the other day, and that looks like a good idea as well. I'll work on putting up a picture or two of the car in the next few days. It's not anything that hasn't been seen before, but I'm always happy to share some pics. With the exception of the couple modifications I noted, the car is pretty much original from when Grandpa bought it (hence some of the stuff I want to dress up a bit).

I've ran across a couple of pretty decent sites on the web for information related to this post. Figured I'd post the links below and let you all have a look at the information and see what you think. I'm in the process of compiling a list of helpful Avanti websites and will try to get that posted on a different part of the board when I get that completed. In any case, take some time and see what you think about the links below. I stress that the information linked below is the work of other individuals and they deserve the credit for the hard work done to compile it. I also make no guarnatees about the the accuracy of the information. Just figured it might be interesting to some. I tried to put a small description below each. Thanks again all.

64 Manual

(a complete 1964 Owner's Manual. Highlights some differents between the years, especially in the pics)

Production Info

(good chuck of info and production statistics for several years of Avantis)

63-64 Production Chart

(another chart that seems to back-up the information in the previous one)

Running Changes

(a list of some of those running changes we've been talking about. I'm sure there are more)

64 Specs

(specifications on 1964 Avantis. Thought the part about the starting serial number was interesting)

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Well, after some more research and a couple phone calls, I believe I finally got a confirmation on the year of Avanti in question. I talked with the owner of Nostalgic Motor Cars in Michigan, as I was going to order a couple of parts. When he asked me the year of the car, we kind of got into a similar discussion to what is posted here on the forum. As many of you probably know (but I was unaware of), Nostalgic happens to own the original manifests from Studebaker. He was able to tell me that the so-called "transition cars" (or 1963 1/2) started with serial number 4808 and they made 30 of those. Hence, the last of those cars would be serial number 4838. The cars after serial number are considered 1964s. Since the one I inherited is serial number 4887, I'd say I'm looking at a 64 Avanti. He did confirm for me that only 54 1964s were made with the round headlights, like the one I happen to have. Kind of neat bit of info that adds to the fact the car means so much to me because of my family history behind it. The car is atypical (in a good way), which would definitely describe both my grandfather and father. Always nice to have a car with that kind of history. Guess it's just a bonus that the car happned to be an Avanti as well. :D In any case, I figured I'd post what I happened to find out. I can't thank you all enough for all the helpful information you've provided on the subject. I've got the impression the Avanti community is a small one compared to most "car communities" out there. It's nice to know it's filled with people that are genuine about being helpful to others. I consider us all lucky for that. I look forward to many more discussions with you all throughout the years to come.

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