The Studebaker Avanti: the car that just refused to die.
By the time the Avanti was introduced in 1962, the once competitive Studebaker was steadily and quickly approaching its last legs. The Avanti’s basic shape and concept, on the other hand, were produced until 2006.
The basic sketch was allegedly made on the middle of a flight by the newly-in-charge Sherwood Egbert. After some perfecting it was launched on April 26th, 1962.
Not much needs to be said about the design, it is unbelievably pretty and in my opinion could hold a candle against the Citroen SM. Unfortunately, there was a problem: fiberglass.
There was simply no end to the problems Studebaker had with the fiberglass body of the Avanti. Oddly enough though, the plant that was chosen to make the bodywork was the same one that did the Corvette, a car the Avanti was supposed to take on.
It lasted just a year before it was axed, with the tooling sold to the local Avanti dealerships. And then, the Avanti II was born.
Similar as it was to its predecessor, it was made from leftover Studebaker chassis’, but now they were hand built and, ironically, powered by a Corvette engine.
In 1982, it was bought up by a real estate developer, who stuffed square headlamps on the car, dropped the “II”, and called it a day. But the company folded in 1986. Enter Michael Kelly. Mostly known by the FBI for screwing innocent, elderly people out of their retirement funds. He bought Avanti, redesigned it, and placed it on a Chevy Monte Carlo platform. It was no longer the nice car of the 60’s, it couldn’t even hold a candle to it.
Somehow it managed to run until 2006, when Kelly was arrested. Truth be told, however, it was probably a mercy kill. So there you have it: our latest Car of the Week, and a textbook example on how things can go horribly wrong.
Image Credits (From top to bottom):
Image 1: Wikimedia Commons
Image 3: Wikimedia Commons