Stunning, polarizing Studebaker Avanti in rare Ebony Black

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Avanti
The Studebaker Avanti was a groundbreaking design by Raymond Loewy and his team

A guilty car pleasure of mine is the tendency to gravitate towards cars that many others might consider strange. Of these, the model I find myself searching for the most on ClassicCars.com is the Studebaker Avanti.

There are a number of reasons for this infatuation. The first is that my friend, car-market expert and appraiser Dave Kinney, loves and collects Avantis, and I have caught the Avanti bug from him.

Avanti

The second reason is that the creation story of the Avanti is simply amazing. The unique design was produced in less than two months by Raymond Loewy and his genius team, all of whom were sleep deprived during that period in a Palm Springs, California, rental house.

Third, the Avanti was the first time an American manufacturer had created a GT car of any kind. I love grand touring cars, and this was the start of this category in the U.S.

Finally, a black Studebaker Avanti was bought new by none other than James Bond author Ian Fleming. My being a huge James Bond fan explains the importance of this fact.

Avanti

This leads me to the Pick of the Day, a 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1 from the first year of production, finished in Ebony Black with a Fawn interior.

Studebaker painted very few Avantis in black due to trouble they had with quality control of the paint on the fiberglass bodies. If this is an original Ebony Black car, it is quite rare and, who knows, it could be Fleming’s car, which has been lost for decades.

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The seller states that this car features gleaming chrome trim, a smooth 289/240-horsepower HP R1 V8 engine, automatic transmission, rare factory A/C, power steering, power disc brakes and power windows. More importantly is that the “hogs troughs,” important chassis components on either side between the axles and typical trouble spots for Avantis, appear to be totally rust free.

AvantiThe car includes books with years of service records, according to the West Chester, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. It recently received mechanical work that included new brakes, gas tank, fuel pump, carburetor, tune-up, belts, hoses and fluids, among other items, and is said to run and drive beautifully.

The Avanti was the swan song of the great Studebaker company, and these cars are both important and interesting. Some people love them and others hate them, while I find them to be visually stunning with loads of personality, and exemplifying mid-century modern design in the best way.

Avantis have been climbing gradually in value, and the asking price of this car at $26,500 seems more than reasonable.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Avanti is on my very short list of all time favorite cars, and even shorter list of attainable favorite cars. Someday…

  2. Have owned a late vin. 64 Avanti for 50 years in the Denver area. White and burgundy interior, loved the car. Was automatic,supercharged 289 Studebaker engine, built in South Bend before Studebaker closed their Avanti production. Approximately 4800 cars produced during the 63 and 64 years, 3/4 of them where 63 round headlite cars.
    The black car you are showing looks like a late vin. # 64, because of the upgraded interior. Always enjoy seeing good survivor Avantis. Thomas

  3. My neighbor was a district manager for Studebaker. They were also the importers of Mercedes. He would, on occasion, bring home a 300SL and then later Sis. He also brought the first Avanti I ever saw. I loved in at 15 and I love it now. But I don’t have one. I do have a 2002 BMW Z8. Love it too.

  4. Is this car still for sale. If so, I may be interested in it. I was born and raised in South Bend and have always dreamed of owning another one. I had a 1963 Avanti years ago. LOVE them. Living in Arizona so need AC & automatic transmission. Where is the car and can it be seen in person. The Vin# would be helpful. Thank You Kindly for your time, sincerely….duane

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