Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Avanti is named after a kingdom of ancient India. Let’s see if this one’s price tag makes it a historically good deal.
There are those who advocate that the way to go through life is to “fake it ’til you make it.” When it came to yesterday’s 2007 Porsche Cayman, however, a fake “S” badge was enough to make the majority of you question the car’s $22,400 asking price. In the end, reality set in for the seller as the hammer dropped in a 60 percent No Dice loss.
Realizing that time was not on the company’s side and seeking to avoid the delays inherent in undertaking the project in-house, Egbert phoned up renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy for the project. Loewy assembled a small skunkwork of three additional designers and sequestered the team in a rented house in Palm Springs, California, where he led the work. There, the Avanti’s design took on its eventual shape: a long-nose, short-deck two-door fiberglass four-seater with a bottom-breather nose and wrap-around rear window.
The original idea was for the car to ride on a newly designed chassis, but time and budgetary constraints ixnayed that idea, and the new car adopted the existing chassis of the compact Lark. Studebaker’s V8, in naturally aspirated and supercharged editions, provided power, while either a four-speed manual or Borg-Warner three-speed automatic could be fitted behind those.
In short, the Avanti proved too little too late for Studebaker, as pricing and other issues limited its sales. Studebaker spiraled into obsolescence, shuttering its South Bend, Indiana factory in 1963 and finally closing its last assembly plant in Hamilton, Ontario, in March 1966.
Amazingly, though, the Avanti saw a second life as a stand-alone model beginning in 1964 when South Bend Studebaker dealers Nate Altman and Leo Newman secured the licenses for the name and design, as well as much of the tooling and factory space to restart production.
Studebaker had already started sourcing engines from Chevrolet before going belly-up, so the revitalized model’s drivetrain wouldn’t be challenging. The new owners were also able to contract with the original body maker, MFG, to supply the fiberglass body panels and inked a new contract with the Budd Corporation to produce Lark frames to complete the car. While even more expensive than the original Avanti, the now rechristened Avanti II would prove a winner for a time as a boutique niche offering.
This 1969 Avanti II hails from the model’s golden age. This is a very early ’69, having been shipped in September of 1968, according to the build sheet shared in the ad. As such, it sports the Chevy “Turbo-Fire” 327 V8. Later in the year, Avanti would transition to the 350 as Chevy phased out the 327.
Behind the 300 (gross) horsepower V8 is the Borg-Warner three-speed automatic, which the seller claims has been recently rebuilt. Apparently, that’s not the only part that has seen refreshing, as the ad touts over $30K in parts and wrenching to make the car a solid driver.
The aesthetics have not seen such work and, aside from a light patina of age, don’t seem to need any. Like almost all Avanti IIs, this car sports custom paint and upholstery. The “Kashmir Ivory” top coat looks perfectly serviceable, and happily, the car carries all its original and irreplaceable trim. A set of Magnum 500 alloy wheels underpin and add to the car’s charm.
The interior shows a bit more wear and tear in the upholstery, but much of that would likely be ignored by occupants marveling over the cabin’s aircraft-style gauges and switchgear, as well as the twee makeup tray in the glovebox. Again, most everything here seems complete and intact.
The ad claims a clean title, a meager 107,000 miles on the clock, and reliable drivability thanks to all that work. What more could one want of an old, limited edition classic car? Well, how about the price? The asking price is $17,500, and you now need to weigh in on that and its relation to this bit of classic car history. Does that price seem fair for the car in its present, semi-restored state? Or is that just too much to give this Avanti one more life?
H/T to Kyle Chambers for the hookup!
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