Coke-shape a must: ’63 Avanti 4-speed
On March 18, 1933, Studebaker entered receivership. The company had been struggling with its debts, exacerbated by the problems of the Great Depression, but would manage to make a resurgence. It would, however, be dogged by financial problems until its final demise in 1966.
Sherwood Egbert arrived as Studebaker’s new president in 1961. Egbert’s halo car was the Avanti. While Brook Stevens was updating bread & butter models, Egbert recruited industrial designer Raymond Loewy who had considerable auto design experience. Egbert knew what the new car should look like. Loewy took Egbert’s vision and sequestered his highly talented team in a rented desert ranch house near Palm Springs. Loewy gave his men instructions that established the Avanti’s design theme, such as “Coke-shape a must” and “wedgy silhouette.” Egbert wasn’t a “car guy,” but knew a winner when he saw one. He was delighted with the car, and Studebaker’s board approved its construction just five weeks after Loewy’s team began work on it. No major American automaker had ever done a car so quickly. The Avanti was rushed into production making the decision to go fiberglass the only option. While it did speed the Avanti into production, it also caused misery for the dealers as delay after delay resulted in cancelled orders. This Avanti offered at Vaultcars is a pretty nice example. It is an R1 with the original engine, a 4-speed, A/C and posi-traction. The exterior color is Avanti Gold complemented with an Elk colored interior. These R1s are more desirable than Avanti II that came after Studebaker collapsed. Considering so few cars were built, many have survived probably due to the fiberglass body. Sports Car Market has these at a rather modest $25,000 for a perfect car. We don’t know what Vaultcars is asking for this one but if you ever had a desire for a car designed by one of the great masters, take a look at this by clicking here.