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The Studebaker Avanti Muscle Car

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By Mark Weisseg

The Studebaker Avanti was built between June 1962 and December 1963.
As you see by the picture, this Avanti (Italian for “forward”) is for sale by this dealer. The Avanti was a Studebaker product and built in Indiana at one point and in Youngstown Ohio, among a few others.

A friend of mine had a storage building and in that he had tucked way back in a corner an Avanti. He bought it when they were building them in the Youngstown market. The plans by the company at that point were to revitalize the car and provide hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy.
That didn’t work out too well as the 60s began, Studebaker working the greatest of shapes financially.
The car’s fibreglass body panels, were outsourced to the same guys who made the Chevrolet Corvette bodies, Molded Fiberglass Products Company, but this was one of their un-doings.
If you added the supercharged option to the 289 CI V8 engine from the Studebaker Hawk model, the Avanti’s shape made for good aerodynamics, with Bonneville Salt flat times of  0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds and a flying mile speed of 168.15 mph.
It appears the only people that buy one are loyal to the Studebaker/Packard line or possibly the town it was built in. The Youngstown market was high on the idea since its steel industry was nearly gone. This car was to bring some life to towns that were nearly closed due to losing its life line. The Avanti had offered the area hope and at the time , hope is all they had.
The Avanti lived and died several times by then and at this point it was on life support. The final total for its 18 months of production was 4,643.

The car was a very unusual design on the exterior and even more different on the inside.  The real problem this car had was a simple one they could not or would not fix. It was ugly.
The lack of a front grille didn’t help.


Avanti tried four doors, toyed with a wagon model but the bottom line was the car was ugly. The car was not so popular then and even today, the car is still not on a top ten list.
But, the life was very short for the ugly duckling and like many cars before, died a slow death. It also took another dream of a community with it. The guy that I know that has one keeps it for sentimental reasons. I rarely ever see one at a car show but when I do, I stop and remember a car that showed promise but in the end, could not overcome the competition.

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The Studebaker Avanti Muscle Car, 9.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings


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