Studebaker to Avanti Story

1 year 2 months ago - 1 year 2 months ago #1120 by JP
JP created the topic: Studebaker to Avanti Story

1960 Studebaker Lark

1960 Studebaker Lark

The 259 V-8 engine on the Lark still managed to get 23.28 mpg.

Over in America Studebaker was struggling to stay alive in the early 1960s against the mighty Ford, GM and Chrysler. But, like so many small companies, they produced some attractive looking cars to try to woo people away from the Big Three. Unfortunately, they had little money to spend on advanced engineering so they relied on used styling to do the job for them. Their airplane style propeller-spinner in the center of the grille was a hallmark for several years and the Starliner, designed by Virgil Exner and Raymond Loewy was another landmark. Despite this, Studebaker had to merge with Packard in 1954, and in 1956 the Starliner was revised to become the Hawk, while a super­charged version of the Packard V8 was fitted into the same car and named the Golden Hawk.

1952 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe

1954 Studebaker Starliner

1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Although temporary relief came with the compact Lark which sold well, the company was still in financial trouble and they decided to go into the sporting market, first with the GT Hawk of 1962 and then with the Avanti which went into production in 1963. (Now that car caught my eye!)

1963 Studebaker Avanti

1963 Studebaker Avanti

The Avanti was almost revolutionary by American standards for at that time only the Chevrolet Corvette could be considered at all sporting in concept. Naturally, money-light Studebaker could not afford to design a completely new chassis so the car was based on the 9 ft. 1 in wheel base chassis of the Lark compact car, but the box type ladder chassis was well cross-braced.

1963 Studebaker Avanti

The front suspension was by wishbones and coil springs with an anti-roll bar, while at the rear the live axle was mounted on semi-elliptic leaf springs and located by radius rods. Steering was by cam and peg while brakes were disc at the front and drum at the rear.

1963 Avanti engine

studebaker avanti supercharged

The standard model was fitted with a V-8 engine of 4725cc (289 cu in) capacity which gave 210 bhp (SAE) at 4500 rpm on a compression ratio of 8.5: 1 using a single Carter carburetor. A higher performance version of this engine gave 235 bhp by using a 10.25 :1 compression ratio and a four barrel carburetor, while a higher performance version with a capacity of 4.9 liters (304 cu in) gave 280 bhp at 4800 rpm using a Paxton supercharger. A three speed gearbox was standard, but a four-speed was an option, as was a three-speed automatic and power steering. The only really unusual feature of the car by European sports car standards was the bodywork, which comprised a “shovel-nosed” 2 + 2 coupe with small round headlamps set into the nose, a style followed many years later by companies like Toyota and Vauxhall. The bodywork was made from glass-fiber-reinforced plastics but poor initial quality restricted sales in the early months. However, the car attracted a devoted band of followers in the States, mainly because of the high performance obtainable from the supercharged version, although few owners ever managed to see the 149 mph claimed for the blown model. Nevertheless, it was quite popular in production drag racing for a period of time, but its modest chassis design gave it little chance of shining as a true sports car.

1967 Studebaker Avanti II

1967 Studebaker Avanti II

1967 Studebaker Avanti II

It could not hope to save Studebaker and in late 1963, the beginning of the end came when car production moved to Hamilton in Canada, and in 1966 the car-making side closed down altogether. The Avanti survived for a while, as a dealer from Studebaker's old home at South Bend, Indiana took over production, simply naming the car Avanti II. Since 1964 all Studebakers had been powered by Chevrolet engines as it was not economic to continue production of Studebaker engines.

Thanks for visiting Ed's Swap JP

(About JP: He is the author of the book, Terrorism Defeated: God’s Plan to Win the War on Terror which was released in 2008. He loves the classic car community and has made a commitment to partner with his brother to bring you a website that is a worldwide swap meet you can visit every day on your computer to find classic car parts, cars to buy or sell, or the opportunity to link your automotive needs to one of this website’s advertisers and/or experts.)

Cheers, Fast Eddie, Founder, Ed's Swap
Last Edit: 1 year 2 months ago by JP.

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