The Studebaker Avanti reborn

By: Steve Nally, Photography by: Alistair Brook

Presented by

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Avanti's many false starts

Studebaker Avanti

Avanti is the car that just wouldn’t die. In 1965 two former Studebaker dealers purchased the rights and tooling and formed the Avanti Motor Corporation offering hand-built Avantis. Production continued until 1982 when the company was sold. The new owner introduced new models including a 20th Anniversary Edition, a convertible, and racing versions but in 1985 the company folded.

studebaker-avanti-roadster-2.jpgPatricia Little and her 1988 Roadster

The New Avanti Motor Corporation started producing cars from 1987 including a Luxury Stretch Coupe and 25th Anniversary Edition before it too went belly up. Avanti was back in 1988 with a new owner and a new name, Avanti Automotive Corporation, and the car was ‘modernised’ in 1989 by using a Chevrolet Caprice chassis and running gear. Both four-door and convertible models failed to sell and two years later Avanti was history again.

An Avanti enthusiast attempted to revive the car in 1995 with one of the original Avanti designers, calling it the AVX, and three versions were built but never went into production. AVX assets were purchased in 1999 and the 2001 Avanti was launched by yet another new company using GM chassis and drivetrains. A 2007 Avanti, to be made in Mexico, was launched in late 2006 based on a Ford platform but production ended soon after the car was introduced. And the Avanti story appears to end there.

Raymond Loewy Designs

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Legendary industrial designer Raymond Loewy won his fame for penning iconic designs across an incredibly diverse product range. The Pennsylvania railroad for starters, the Avanti of course, and the interior of Air Force One for the late President John F Kennedy.

Electric Avanti?

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Avanti fans debating the relative merits of naturally aspirated V8s vs those relying on a bit of boost from a Paxton blower need to know there's been another whole new engine-choice elephant in the room for a while now. That's the electric-power option...

One Avanti enthusiast from Winnipeg, Canada, bought his secondhand in 1997 and, after enjoying its natural petrol-powered charms for almost 20 years, decided it was time for a change. A big one.

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A 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car was cannibalised to provide all the electric underpinnings, and control systems.

What was a 180hp V8 front-engine/rear-wheel-drive car became a 110hp electric-powered front-wheel-drive vehicle. The owner/builder claims equal 9.3sec 0-60mph times for the original and modified versions of his beloved Avanti.

1987 Avanti convertible specs

Engine 5001cc V8
Power 138kW
Torque 326Nm
Gearbox 4-speed auto
Suspension wishbones, coil springs (f); live axle, semi-elliptic leaf
springs (r)
Brakes Discs (f), Drums (r)
0-100km/h 9 .0 sec

 

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