Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

The 'Avanti' was supposed to resurrect Studebaker! Company president Sherwood Egbert dreamed up the car - as a means to inject some much-needed vitality into Studebaker's veins. Egbert's choice of designer was astute. Raymond Loewy - who had penned the 'Coca-Cola' bottle, in the past - was brought in as stylist. Loewy went the minimalist route ... at least, as compared with many of his contemporaries. Typically, Detroit-built cars at the time were all chrome and fins! The Avanti, though, exuded 'European' restraint. Its glassfibre-forged lines were smart, but unshowy. On the inside, too, things were similarly sophisticated. Neat instrumentation - and leather bucket seats - were imbued with Italianate finesse.

But - just two years after the Avanti's release - Studebaker was no more! The firm went into receivership in '64. And that seemed like that for the new car. At the last, though, saviours stepped in - in the form of Studebaker dealers Nate Altman and Leo Newman. In no mood to see the Avanti die, they bought the rights to it - and set about re-starting production. With Studebaker motors no longer around, Chevrolet Corvette units were sourced. The car was re-christened the Avanti II. The first model had received rave reviews. Now, it acquired 'sought-after' status, too! Altman and Newman's faith was rewarded. Their 'Avanti Motor Corporation' thrived ... right up until '82.

The Avanti's V8 made 335bhp ... taking it to a top speed of 145mph. That 'poke' came with a comfortable cabin. 4,643 Avanti IIs were sold. In later years, there were more attempts to keep the car going. Like Loewy's coke bottle, certain products seem destined always to be with us. And - while not, perhaps, quite in Coca-Cola's league - the Studebaker Avanti will still be going strong somewhere. Last heard of in Mexico, apparently!

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