1964 Studebaker Avanti II Coupe
Intended to revive the ailing fortunes of the Studebaker marque, the Avanti was a rare case of an American car maker breaking free of the conservatism that pervaded the auto industry, to build a radical sports coupe that has gone on to become a genuine classic. With styling from the studios of legendary industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the Avanti had heavily sculpted 'Coke bottle' lines free from superfluous chrome ornamentation and a smooth front end that did away with a traditional grille. Like Chevrolet's Corvette, the bodywork was formed in fibreglass and supplied by Molded Fiber Glass of Ashtabula, Ohio. The chassis design was based on the Lark Daytona, but had Bendix front disc brakes (a first for an American full-size production car) while a new range of small block V8s were developed specifically for the Avanti. Displacing 289-cid, the engine developed just over 200 hp in base R1 form and around 290 hp in R2 guise with a Paxton supercharger fitted. There was a choice of transmissions, with a Borg Warner three-speed Power-Shift auto or a four-speed manual offered. Launched to a rapturous reception at the 1962 New York Motor Show, the Avanti looked set for a stellar career but serious production problems hampered supply and very few left the South Bend factory before the doors finally closed for good in 1964. With a total of 3,834 made in 1963 and a further 809 units the following year, Studebaker certainly guaranteed exclusivity with the Avanti but poor sales ultimately contributed to the company's demise. However, the Avanti lived on through the efforts of private individuals and production of the Series II continued sporadically until 1990.