Friday, September 18, 2009

Studebaker Avanti

The Studebaker Avanti was a sports coupe built by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, USA between June 1962 and December 1963. Designed by a team of stylists employed by industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the Avanti featured a radical body design based on the Studebaker Lark convertible chassis.

The waist had a coke bottle shape, which held up a thin-section roof with a bubble-back rear window and an integral rollbar. Loewy achieved the look of a mid-engine sports car by replacing the conventional grille with a bottom breathing functional air intake placed under the front bumper. The driver looked over an asymmetrical hump in the hood. The padded cockpit featured four bucket seats, the rears mounted a few inches higher than the fronts to present passengers with a startlingly clear view of the road ahead.

The Avanti's classic design originated in an intense five-week session in a rented house in Palm Springs, California near the home of lead designer Raymond Loewy with the team of Bob Andrews, Tom Kellogg, and John Ebstein.

In the early 1960s, Studebaker needed some excitement in the showrooms, but because of its precarious financial situation had little capital to invest in product development. Although the Avanti looked entirely new, it was mounted on a 109-inch (2,769 mm) Lark convertible frame, still based upon the 1953 design.

On December 9, 1963, Studebaker announced the end of car and truck manufacturing in South Bend, and the consolidation of all vehicle manufacturing in its Hamilton, Ontario, Canada plant. At that point, the company dropped the Avanti, the Gran Turismo Hawk, and all pickups and trucks in order to focus on sedans, coupes and station wagons. Only 4,643 Avantis (not including prototypes, some of which were assigned serial numbers at the end of the run) had been produced by the time Studebaker closed the South Bend factory on December 20, 1963.

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