1983 Studebaker Avanti
As seen on Season Two of FantomWorks
I have always wanted to do a car project like you see on TV but I wanted something different. Everyone has done a Mustang, Camaro, Chevelle, etc,but from what I could find I never saw someone tackle an Avanti. I have always liked these cars but, never could find one close by. Then, one day back in April 2011, I was on EBay and came across an Avanti in Charlottesville. I immediately submitted a bid and shortly thereafter I had bought an Avanti. When I went to pick it up, the man I bought it from assured me that the car was drivable for my 1-1/2 hour trip home. Well, I made it home but when I got the car up in the air I about had a heart attack. Let’s just say that I had no business driving that car home. A friend of mine and I intended on doing the car ourselves, which is why I had purchased so many parts prior to turning the car over to FantomWorks. Unfortunately, my friend’s wife got very ill and he had to be her constant caregiver for the next 14 months. Because of this, I started “cold calling,” via email, restoration shops to see if anyone had any interest in doing my car. That’s when Dan called me and the rest is history.
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On April 21,1962, the Avanti prototype was sent to New York and kept tightly under wraps until April 25 when it was unveiled to the public to rave views. On the same day a second prototype was unveiled in South Bend tat a shareholders meeting and at a press conference. Immediately after this introduction the car was placed on a military aircraft and a 24-city tour was underway.
The car was introduced in dealer showrooms in the fall of 1962 and sales were almost instant. In all, 3834 1963 model Avantis were produced. These cars came equipped with either the standard 289 V-8 R-1 engines or the R-2 Supercharged version. Of course they were all fiberglass and had transmission options of automatic or manual 4-speed. Other options including air conditioning, power steering and electric windows were also available. 1964 production was limited to 809 by the termination and shut down of auto production in the Studebaker South Bend facilities.
This was not the end of the Avanti as Studebaker Dealer Nate Altman and his business partner Leo Newman, determined to keep the car alive. Altman set about making this dream a reality by approaching every vehicle manufacturer in the US with his idea but none would take it on. Finally, he and his partner decided to undertake the task themselves. They formed the Avanti Motor Corporation and started when they purchased 6 buildings in the old Studebaker complex, including the original final assembly building for the Avanti.
In mid year 1983, Blake introduced the 20th anniversary edition of the Avanti and essentially the first new car in a decade. Many updates and innovations were included in this car. The most obvious styling change was the incorporation of resin-molded body colored bumpers, which just highlighted the dramatic appearance of the car. Another change was the re-institution of a dealer network. By September of 1983, this network consisted of 24 dealers from coast to coast. 1983 proved to be a fantastic year with production reaching an all time high of 289 vehicles built.
Read more about Avantis at: http://www.aoai.org/the_avanti_story.php