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First Avanti I Ever Saw!


mfg

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In 1962 Studebaker transported Avantis around to dealers for a short display/demo at each.  Having seen the advertisement I went to Foley Motors in Harrisonburg, Va and got a ride in a turquoise/turq. '63 R2 Avanti.  A couple days later this same car was at Mason Motor Sales in Timberville and I got another ride in it.  This must have been late summer 1962.

--Dwight

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1 hour ago, Dwight FitzSimons said:

In 1962 Studebaker transported Avantis around to dealers for a short display/demo at each.  Having seen the advertisement I went to Foley Motors in Harrisonburg, Va and got a ride in a turquoise/turq. '63 R2 Avanti.  A couple days later this same car was at Mason Motor Sales in Timberville and I got another ride in it.  This must have been late summer 1962.

--Dwight

COOL!......You followed the car around!....

Did you have to wear a Groucho Marx disguise to get that second ride??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I never got to see one 'for real' until several months after they were introduced.  Because of the inability to supply dealers with sufficient stock on introduction day, our local dealer did not receive an Avanti until early 1963 in Canada.

Craig

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14 hours ago, mfg said:

COOL!......You followed the car around!....

Did you have to wear a Groucho Marx disguise to get that second ride??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, different people, so I wasn't recognized.  My only regret is that I didn't follow it further, to Valley Motor Sales in Staunton, McGeorge in Richmond, Kern Motor Sales in Winchester, etc.  I'll regret that the rest of my life.

--Dwight

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1 hour ago, 8E45E said:

I never got to see one 'for real' until several months after they were introduced.  Because of the inability to supply dealers with sufficient stock on introduction day, our local dealer did not receive an Avanti until early 1963 in Canada.

Craig

Yes, that would be a bit late....I wonder how many Avantis Studebaker would have sold if there were no production snags at all?

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3 hours ago, mfg said:

I wonder how many Avantis Studebaker would have sold if there were no production snags at all?

It would have had a sales-curve similar to the AMC Pacer 13 years later, had they been in stock and ready for purchase at the dealers like the Pacer was.  In the first year-and-a-half, Pacer sales enjoyed over 100K units; a dream for any independent to achieve.  But sales dropped off sharply after that, despite a new station wagon for 1977 and a V8 engine in 1978.  I suspect the Avanti would have had phenomenal first model year sales (for an independent), but once their faults became known and made to the press reviews, sales would have tanked right after.

Craig

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6 hours ago, 8E45E said:

It would have had a sales-curve similar to the AMC Pacer 13 years later, had they been in stock and ready for purchase at the dealers like the Pacer was.  In the first year-and-a-half, Pacer sales enjoyed over 100K units; a dream for any independent to achieve.  But sales dropped off sharply after that, despite a new station wagon for 1977 and a V8 engine in 1978.  I suspect the Avanti would have had phenomenal first model year sales (for an independent), but once their faults became known and made to the press reviews, sales would have tanked right after.

Craig

In 1984 the Pontiac Fiero sold just over 100,000 cars, but sales dropped sharply thereafter, dropping to 26,402 in 1988.  The Fiero was a specialty car, a 2-seater with limited space to carry anything.  So, that market was limited and they had saturated it.  (It didn't help that some early ones caught fire.)

Similarly, the Avanti was a specialty car in a limited market, and was never going to sell a lot of cars.  Plus, the Avanti had major competition: Thunderbird, Riviera, Grand Prix, Olds Starfire, and an all new Corvette.

There weren't very many faults with the Avanti; power window problems and a hot shifter are all that I can think of.  They had production problems, though, that limited supply.

--Dwight

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The Avanti was never intended to sell in big numbers…but be a halo car to draw attention to Studebaker’s other…more profitable and mainstream products.  It was certainly expected to sell in numbers larger than it did…maybe 10k units annually.  But…we all know supply, quality control and production issues kept that from happening.  Add to that many Studebaker dealers had no idea how to sell such a car…even if they could get them.  

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10 hours ago, Dwight FitzSimons said:

In 1984 the Pontiac Fiero sold just over 100,000 cars, but sales dropped sharply thereafter, dropping to 26,402 in 1988.  The Fiero was a specialty car, a 2-seater with limited space to carry anything.  So, that market was limited and they had saturated it.  (It didn't help that some early ones caught fire.)

Similarly, the Avanti was a specialty car in a limited market, and was never going to sell a lot of cars.  Plus, the Avanti had major competition: Thunderbird, Riviera, Grand Prix, Olds Starfire, and an all new Corvette.

There weren't very many faults with the Avanti; power window problems and a hot shifter are all that I can think of.  They had production problems, though, that limited supply.

--Dwight

Another good comparison; this time from the 1980's.  As Andy Beckman stated with the Pacer. "Everyone who wanted one got one in the first year, and then they ran out of buyers".   The same was true with the Fiero, despite adding a V6, and a GT model.

Craig

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Ironically…the parts situation for the Avanti is probably better than for the Pacer.  Besides a cottage industry maintaining, rebuilding and reproducing parts for the Avanti and other Studebakers…Chrysler saw to it AMC parts were destroyed.

When Chrysler purchased AMC…they really only wanted Jeep.  For tax purposes they scrapped all AMC parts the company had…and earned the undying enmity of AMC fans.  It was financially more advantageous to scrap the parts and take the write off than sell the surplus parts and pay tax on the revenue.

Studebaker sold all their parts and entrepreneurs like Nate Altman, Jon Myer, Dan Booth and others bought them and also from dealers liquidating over the years.

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Wasn’t the Pacer another Brooks Stevens design? It was an interesting car. We called them fish bowls back in the day. I do think stuffing that 250 inch(?) in-line six in it didn’t help matters at all. I guess the scenarios are similar to the Avanti though. GM introduced the 63 Corvette which screwed up the production of the Avanti potentially killing the car and GM pulled the Wankle engine intended for the Pacer at the last second which forced a crude redesign of of the Pacer to fit that long, heavy six cylinder.

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The Pacer was designed by Dick Teague, who also designed the 1955 Packards based on the 1951 body.  The Pacer was his final design for AMC before he retired.   

Yes, it was supposed to have a Wankel engine, but in fairness, the first energy crises killed the Wankel as it had a reputation for poor fuel mileage.  Not only GM pulled the plug, but so did European manufacturers who were also going to use it.  The Triumph TR-7 was supposed to offer a Wankel option, but it also got killed along with the Pacer.

Craig

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I remember the energy crisis was the ultimate nail in the coffin. The Wankel is inherently inefficient from what I remember. What I  meant is AMC and Studebaker both got blindsided by GM. No real fault to GM just how the chips fell. It is/was a competitive industry.

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Craig.didn't Brooks Stevens deign one or more of AMC’s larger cars? I remember the passenger door on the two door car was longer than the driver’s side for ease of entry into the rear. Novel idea and practical. Maybe this was the Pacer but I seem to remember that on a larger AMC model.

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I know Brooks Stevens made an Ambassador-size concept/proposal around 1969 for AMC.  It was on display in front of his museum in Mequon for many years outside under a canopy. 

Remember, Richard Teague had a preference for tunneled headlight design, as seen on the 1964 American, Javelin, 1974-'78 Matador 2 doors, and it is a dead giveaway on the Pacer. 

Craig 

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1 minute ago, 8E45E said:

I know Brooks Stevens made an Ambassador-size concept/proposal around 1969 for AMC.  It was on display in front of his museum in Mequon for many years outside under a canopy. 

Remember, Richard Teague had a preference for tunneled headlight design, as seen on the 1964 American, Javelin, 1974-'78 Matador 2 doors, and it is a dead giveaway on the Pacer. 

Craig 

I always liked the overall look of those AMC Matadors you speak of...especially the front end!...Ed

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It's too bad Studebaker didn't have more time to manufacture Avantis...

I've noticed over the years that whenever large (or small) inventories of NOS Studebaker parts surface, it's uncommon to find any part 'exclusively Avanti'.....They just weren't in production long enough for very many 'Avanti only' parts to filter down into dealer inventories.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/20/2023 at 12:53 PM, mfg said:

I've noticed over the years that whenever large (or small) inventories of NOS Studebaker parts surface, it's uncommon to find any part 'exclusively Avanti'.....They just weren't in production long enough for very many 'Avanti only' parts to filter down into dealer inventories.

There were close to 4500 Avantis manufactured, and roughly 2200 Studebaker dealers at the time, which would average two Avanti's per dealer.  Of course it never worked that way, a dealer maybe selling ten, and several selling none.  Even a dealer that sold ten would never inventory a stock of 'Avanti only' parts, and would have ordered them from a Parts Depot.  I would not be surprised one of the many reasons R-series engines were offered across the board for the 1963 model year was to get more of them out in the field where dealers would stock tune-up parts for them.

Craig

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  • 3 months later...

The first Avanti I saw was in the National City Studebaker dealer's showroom.  This would have been either late 1962 or early 1963.  I think it was white.  I remember trying to talk my uncle into buying one, however he was a GM guy.

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  • 2 months later...

University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, IL.  I was an undergraduate student from 1972 - 1976.  Probably an Avanti II - I saw it parked on campus outside Garcia's Pizza.  It was such a unique and gorgeous vehicle that I stopped in my tracks to admire it. 

Turns out it was owned by one of the two owners of Garcia's - the most popular pizza place on campus at that time.  The two owners, who called themselves "The Flying Tomato Brothers" also flew a hot air balloon, shaped like - what else -a tomato!

I always swore I would own one someday, and now I do - a gold 1963 R1 with black interior.   

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3 hours ago, michaelb said:

University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, IL.  I was an undergraduate student from 1972 - 1976.  Probably an Avanti II - I saw it parked on campus outside Garcia's Pizza.  It was such a unique and gorgeous vehicle that I stopped in my tracks to admire it. 

Turns out it was owned by one of the two owners of Garcia's - the most popular pizza place on campus at that time.  The two owners, who called themselves "The Flying Tomato Brothers" also flew a hot air balloon, shaped like - what else -a tomato!

I always swore I would own one someday, and now I do - a gold 1963 R1 with black interior.   

Great story Michaelb….and I believe that all of us Avanti owners have had that ‘stopped in our tracks’ moment when we viewed our first one! …. Ed

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was introduced to the Avanti in 1982/3 by a Deacon @ my church in Slidell, LA who I used to cut his grass.  We were speaking about cars and he made mention that his desire was to buy an Avanti.  He then proceeded to pull out a book that was hidden in his garage on Avanti's.  He described that they were hand made/assembled, quite pricy, made to order, etc...  I will say that I was quite intrigued.  While admittedly it was not my "dream car" little did I know that I was hooked.  Fast Forward to 2019ish while driving through Franklin, VA I spotted a Royal Blue 4 door Avanti that disappeared just as fast as it appeared.  I questioned the 4 Doors as I  did not remember such a beast from my introduction.  I made comment of seeing it to one of my Deacon's, who happens to be a motor head / drag racer, and after telling me that he knew the car he also let me know that he new the owner.  I have attempted to make contact with him as I understand that he has a very nice car collection that includes Studebakers, AMCs, and multiple Avantis but have not been successful.  Anyway fast forward to 2023 I happened to be flipping through Craig's List as I had the itch again to try my luck at rebuilding a classic and I saw an add for a ""mini" Camaro" and the picture was a Avanti.  I made a call, made a few visits, and I purchased RQB-3616 - The First Avanti that I was able to lay hands on since being introduced to them in early 80's.

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