Once upon a time, a venerable and well-known automaker, realizing the end was nigh, tried desperately to show the public that while they might be down, they were not yet out. They called the world’s most famous designer and asked him to design them a sports car: something so striking and unusual that buyers would come running back to their dealerships just to see it and thus breathe life into a dying business. It failed, but the designer’s sports car rose from the ashes and went on to outlive its parent company by more than 40 years. This is the story of the Studebaker Avanti.
THE CRISIS AT STUDEBAKER
In 1961, when the Avanti was conceived, Studebaker was already more than 100 years old. The South Bend, Indiana-based company was founded in 1852 by Henry and Clement Studebaker, who built wagons for the burgeoning Gold Rush. Studebaker’s sturdy carriages had borne several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, and in 1897 the company had gone into the automobile business, concentrating until 1904 on electric cars.
Studebaker had boomed during the 1920s, nearly collapsed with the onset of the Great Depression, and recovered soundly under new management in the mid-1930s. It was the first American manufacturer to offer a genuinely all-new car in the booming postwar years and reached its peak in 1950 with nearly half a billion dollars in sales.
By 1954, Studebaker was in trouble. Like other American independents (Kaiser-Frazer, Nash, Hudson, Packard, et al), the company was at a serious disadvantage against the “Big Three”: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The Big Three were rolling out new technology like V8 engines, automatic transmissions, power steering, and air conditioning, and their rapid styling changes quickly made year-old cars look outdated. In the face of this competition and a brutal price war between Ford and Chevrolet, Studebaker struggled to keep up. The venerable independent had its own V8 and automatic, but a smaller sales volume and somewhat antiquated production facilities made costs high and keeping prices competitive with the bigger automakers was painful. Studebaker was bleeding money; in 1954, its total sales were only about 80,000, 200,000 units below the break-even point.
In the fall of 1954, Studebaker merged with another independent automaker the Packard Motor Car Company, an independent luxury marque whose products had once been the most prestigious in America. Packard and Studebaker had both been struggling in the difficult market of 1953 and both felt a merger would shore up their own struggling business, allowing them to increase their overall volume and dealer base. Unfortunately, even Studebaker apparently didn’t realize the depths of its financial predicament and the merger nearly sank both companies. In 1956, they signed a management agreement with Curtiss-Wright, the aircraft manufacturer, providing a desperately needed infusion of cash, but the cost was the loss of Packard’s engine and transmission plant and the demise of Packard as an independent concern.
ENTER SHERWOOD EGBERT
Although the Packard marque died in 1958, Studebaker earned a brief reprieve in the wake of the 1957–1958 Eisenhower Recession. Seeing the country’s new infatuation with compact economy cars, Studebaker president Harold Churchill reinvented the existing car as the compact Lark. It proved to be a hit, allowing the company to post a $28.5 million profit after years of losses.
Rather than invest that profit in further updating its car line, the Studebaker-Packard board went on a buying spree, acquiring a variety of other, non-automotive businesses, including the Chemical Compounds company (later renamed STP, after one of its most successful products), two plastics companies, a forklift manufacturer, and the Gravely Tractors company. The board was not sanguine about the company’s prospects in the auto business. Their doubts became that much more serious when the Big Three launched their own compacts for 1960, causing Studebaker’s profits to plummet to less than $1 million. Harold Churchill, who had fought hard for greater investment in the car business, was forced out and replaced by Sherwood Egbert, a hotshot young executive who was expected to continue the diversification process.
The Studebaker board had no reason to assume the 41-year-old Egbert would be a ‘car guy.’ Egbert had come to Studebaker-Packard after resuscitating the flailing McCulloch chainsaw company and had little prior experience with automobiles. To everyone’s surprise, Egbert proved to be even more of an automobile man than Harold Churchill. Egbert didn’t know much about cars or automobile manufacturing, but he became an excited and enthusiastic booster of the company’s automotive business — certainly not what the board had expected or had in mind.
Egbert decided that the surest way to revive public interest in Studebaker’s cars was to build something new and flashy that would draw people back to dealerships. He wanted a Studebaker sports car.
THE FATHER OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
It’s entirely possible that if Egbert had known more about the auto business than he did, the Avanti might never have come to pass. Egbert wanted the car ready for the 1963 model year, which meant it had to be in production in the summer of 1962, a little over a year away. This was a very tall order indeed, but since he didn’t know much about cars, Egbert didn’t know it wasn’t really possible and set about doing it anyway. He even had a designer in mind: He picked up the phone and called Raymond Loewy.
Raymond Loewy was perhaps the most famous designer of his era. Born in France in 1893, he had moved to America as a young man and, after a stint as a window designer for major New York department stores in the 1920s, became an industrial designer. Over the next three decades, he brought a clean, modern, Art Moderne-flavored touch to products like refrigerators, locomotives, the modern Coca-Cola bottle, and an array of familiar logos and packaging that ranged from Hoover Vacuum Cleaners to Lucky Strike cigarettes and Shell Gasoline. He made the cover of TIME in 1949 and it would be fair to say that most Americans saw or interacted with at least one Loewy-designed product every day.
In 1936, Studebaker president Paul Hoffman hired Loewy to design the company’s 1938 line. Loewy remained involved with Studebaker until 1955, his satellite office in South Bend acting as Studebaker’s de facto styling department. Loewy’s firm produced a variety of memorable models, including the dramatic 1947 Champion, the 1950 “Next Look” Commander, and the 1953 Starliner coupe, which some historians have called the most beautiful car produced in the United States.
Although Loewy’s contract with Studebaker had ended more than five years earlier, Sherwood Egbert knew Loewy personally, having met him while vacationing in Palm Springs. Egbert called Loewy to a meeting in South Bend in early March 1961 and outlined what he had in mind. The two men had similar tastes and quickly came to an agreement. The only hitch was that Egbert, whose understanding of automotive lead times was always sketchy at best, wanted the finished design in only 40 days; by comparison, even well-funded and well-staffed GM typically needed more than two years’ lead time for an all-new production design. Loewy agreed to take it as a challenge.
Because Egbert had stressed the need for absolute secrecy, Loewy rented a house in Palm Springs to serve as a workshop and brought in three of his employees from New York: Bob Andrews (previously the designer of the 1948–1954 Step-Down Hudsons), Tom Kellogg, and project director John Ebstein. Until they arrived in Palm Springs, the trio were not told what they would be working on and Loewy sequestered them in the rental house like the jury in a high-profile criminal trial, forbidding them to so much as call their wives.
Although Loewy had been publicly credited with the styling of past Studebakers, his direct involvement with the design work had been very limited. Like GM’s Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, Loewy’s role was to direct, inspire, and occasionally intimidate the designers doing the actual work and then to pitch their concepts to management. He was an excellent promoter, but some of his employees, like Virgil Exner (who had designed the 1947 Studebaker behind Loewy’s back), were irritated by what they saw as a propensity for claiming credit for the work of others. Unlike previous “Loewy” Studebakers, however, the Avanti was very much Loewy’s design. Although he did relatively little of the actual design work, which was completed in a few weeks of frantic effort by Kellogg and Andrews, the aesthetic and principles were Loewy’s own, taking their inspiration from several custom-bodied cars he had had built for his own use in the fifties.
Loewy and Egbert wanted the new car to have a sleek, aerodynamic form with a minimum of decoration, reacting strongly against the acres of chrome and useless gimmickry that had festooned the American cars of the late fifties — the tail fins and Dagmar bumpers. Loewy’s concept was wedge-shaped in profile with a wasp-waisted curvature to its fenders, flush-mounted bumpers, and a grilleless nose. Although it was basically angular in form, Loewy boasted that the car had no straight lines at all. It was low-slung and had a noticeable rake, the nose sitting more than an inch lower than the tail. Some critics described its curious detailing as fussy or contrived, but it was undeniably distinctive.
On April 2, Egbert flew to Palm Springs just long enough to glance at the team’s drawings and 1/8th-scale model and make approving noises before hurrying back to the airport. Loewy and his designers hastily packed up their work and flew themselves to South Bend to create a full-size clay model. To save time, they actually built only half the model, simulating the rest with a mirror. This hasty improvisation was ready for Egbert to present to the Studebaker board on April 27 and was quickly approved for production. It was named Studebaker Avanti, meaning “Forward” in Italian.
THE STUDEBAKER AVANTI
There was no time or money for a unique chassis or suspension, so the Studebaker Avanti would ride a slightly modified Studebaker Lark convertible frame. Cost and time considerations also made building the Avanti in steel impossible, so Studebaker commissioned the Molded Fiber Glass Body Company (MFG), the same company that built bodies for Chevrolet’s Corvette, to mold the Avanti’s body from glass-reinforced plastic, more commonly called fiberglass.
Fiberglass had become popular for commercial use in the late 1930s and by the 1950s, it briefly appeared to be the Next Big Thing in automotive manufacturing. Fiberglass is light, inexpensive, and relatively tough. Better yet, plastic molds are far less expensive than the dies and presses needed for steel body panels, which makes fiberglass much more economical than steel for limited-production cars.
Despite the early enthusiasm, fiberglass failed to make a big impact on the automotive mainstream, which found that its advantages were often outweighed by its drawbacks. Although fiberglass is lighter than steel, it’s not particularly rigid, so the frame must be stiffer and heavier to compensate, canceling most of the potential weight savings. Another problem is that fiberglass is difficult to paint and the finish can ‘craze’ due to flexing of the body. Indeed, the Avanti’s early construction was beset with quality control problems, finally forcing Studebaker to bring the assembly of the body in-house rather than allowing MFG to assemble the body shells. Even then, fit and finish often left much to be desired.
Egbert and Loewy wanted a car with highly competitive performance: not just in straight-line speed, but in handling, braking, and safety. One unusual provision of the Studebaker Avanti was an integral roll bar built into the roof. The well-trimmed dash and interior panels were safety-padded years before such padding was mandated by law. To improve handling, the Lark suspension was beefed up with heavy-duty springs and shocks, front and rear anti-roll bars, and rear trailing links to better locate the live axle. For better stopping power, the Avanti used Bendix disc brakes on its front wheels — essentially licensed American versions of the Dunlop brakes used on contemporary Jaguars. They were the first caliper discs on an American production car, excepting a few Crosley sports cars years earlier.
Under the fiberglass hood was a revamped version of Studebaker’s familiar 289 cu. in. (4,737 cc) V8, which dated back to 1951. It was not an outstanding engine, being overweight, underpowered, and prone to oil leaks, but Egbert asked chief engineer Gene Hardig to give it a thorough going-over. In basic R1 form, standard on the Avanti, the revamped V8 made 240 gross horsepower (179 kW). The optional R2 version added a Paxton supercharger, raising power to about 290 (216 kW), one gross horsepower per cubic inch (61 hp/liter). The Avanti’s three-speed stick was the standard transmission, but most Avantis had either a four-speed manual (the ubiquitous Warner T-10) or a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic, which Studebaker called Power-Shift.
Hot rodding impresario Andy Granatelli — another acquaintance of Egbert’s from McCulloch, hired with the acquisition of Granatelli’s Paxton Products in March 1962 — also developed 304.5 cu. in. (4,991 cc) R3 and R4 engines producing as much as 335 gross horsepower (250 kW), but they were very rarely ordered. Studebaker built only nine R3 Avantis and no known R4s. (Andy Granatelli later bought up most of the 250-odd remaining R3 engines and some of them found their way into Avantis after the fact.)
An early-production Studebaker Avanti was displayed at the New York Auto Show in April 1962, but production problems kept Avantis from showrooms until fairly late in the year. When the new car did appear, its list price was $4,445, equal to a Ford Thunderbird coupe, $112 more than Buick’s new Riviera, and $193 more than the dramatic new Corvette Sting Ray coupe. In short, the Avanti was very pricey, especially for a marque that was not exactly dripping with prestige.
The Studebaker Avanti may have lacked badge cachet, but it didn’t lack for performance. With the R1 engine and automatic, the most common powertrain combination, it could go from 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in about 9.5 seconds, putting it on a par with the Thunderbird. The supercharged R2 was a different story. Capable of 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in about 7.5 seconds and a top speed well over 120 mph (193 km/h), it would outrun any pure-stock American car except the hottest Sting Rays and the new Shelby Cobra. R3s were faster still.
Eager to bolster that image, Studebaker sent Andy Granatelli to set some records. In April 1962, a souped-up, supercharged Avanti hit a top speed of 171 mph (276 km/h) and production Avantis broke 29 speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the spring and summer of 1962. A year later, Sherwood Egbert himself drove a modified, R3-powered Avanti to a flying-mile record of 168 mph (271 km/h).
Most reviewers found the Studebaker Avanti’s acceleration and braking to be commendable, but they were less impressed with its handling. The Avanti was a fairly bulky car by international standards, stretching a little over 192 inches (4,887 mm) on a 109-inch (2,769mm) wheelbase and tipped the scales at more than 3,700 pounds (1,715 kg) with automatic and air conditioning. Perhaps more significantly, the Avanti had inherited the Lark’s formidable front weight bias, which compromised its agility. The stiff shocks and springs gave better control, but they also contributed to a heavy-footed feel on broken pavement. The weakest link was probably the antiquated front suspension, which gave the Avanti vague steering feel. By the standards of passenger cars of its era, the Avanti was above average in handling, but it was definitely no match for a Corvette Sting Ray.
Neither critics nor buyers were blown away by the Avanti’s unusual exterior styling. Critics liked the absence of chrome and glitter, but buyers were displeased by the grilleless nose and gimmicks like the asymmetric hood bulge. The interior was less controversial — offering bucket seats, full instrumentation (including a 6,000-rpm tachometer and even a vacuum gauge), a Thunderbird-style center console, and an aircraft-inspired overhead panel for the light switches — but potential buyers remained skeptical.
Perhaps the Avanti’s greatest sales obstacle was the general perception that Studebaker itself was being measured for a coffin. First-year production totaled a meager 3,834 — not enough to worry the Corvette, let alone the Thunderbird. A modest facelift for 1964 changed the headlights and a few other details, but Avanti sales sank to a dire 809 units.
THE END OF STUDEBAKER
By then, both Sherwood Egbert and Studebaker were terminal. Egbert’s apparent vitality belied the fact that he had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had already undergone one surgery. In late 1963, another round of surgery forced him to take an indefinite medical leave of absence.
That was the last straw for the Studebaker board, which announced the closure of the South Bend factory on December 9. Production of the Lark would be continued for a time at Studebaker’s factory in Hamilton, Ontario, but the Avanti, the Hawk, and Studebaker’s truck line were canceled. So, too, were Studebaker’s existing engines; after the end of the 1964 model year, Studebakers would use engines purchased from Chevrolet.
Studebaker continued its Canadian production for a few more years, finally closing in March 1966. Although the company was no longer in the auto business, the board’s insistence on diversification saved the corporation as a whole, although it went through several subsequent mergers and name changes over the next few years. By then, Loewy and Granatelli had moved on to other things. Sherwood Egbert never fully recovered and died in 1969.
This ordinarily would be the end of the Avanti story — another entry in the lexicon of valiant but Pyrrhic lost causes — but what happened next was not quite so simple.
THE AVANTI REBORN
On July 1, 1964, only a few months after the South Bend factory closed its doors, local Studebaker dealers Nathan Altman and Leo Newman signed an agreement to purchase the Avanti name, rights to the design, all of the associated molds and tooling, and a portion of the South Bend factory. They also hired former Studebaker chief engineer Gene Hardig as chief engineering consultant. Their plan was very simple: to resume production of the Avanti as an exclusive, limited-edition luxury coupe.
The Studebaker Avanti’s fiberglass body had enabled it to be rushed into production and problems with its construction had been responsible for many of its initial problems. Now, it would also prove to be the car’s salvation. Had the Avanti been bodied in steel, Altman could never have afforded to resume production, but in fiberglass, the new company could still make a profit on a small production run, particularly since their starting price was more than $2,000 higher than the original car.
The revived Avanti, dubbed Avanti II, was only modestly altered from its Studebaker predecessor. The major external changes were the elimination of original car’s forward rake and the addition of sharp-looking Magnum 500 wheels. The Avanti II still used the Lark frame, of which there was no shortage, and the same Bendix brakes and Borg-Warner transmissions.
The major dilemma was the lack of engines, since the Studebaker engine plant had been closed down. Altman finally opted for the same solution Studebaker had, buying V8 engines from Chevrolet. The standard engine for the Avanti II was Chevrolet’s ever-popular 327 cu. in. (5,354 cc) V8, rated at 300 gross horsepower (224 kW) — essentially the same as the base engine of a contemporary Corvette. It was a sensible swap; the 327 weighed nearly 150 pounds (68 kg) less than the old Studebaker engine, improving weight distribution. Better parts and service (not to mention the potential to extract a great deal more horsepower) were also readily available.
Thus equipped, the Avanti II was in many ways the ultimate Avanti, with performance and handling superior to the original. Altman and Newman’s efforts received the highest compliment from Raymond Loewy himself, who bought one of their cars for his own use in 1972.
The Avanti II was very much a specialty item. Its $7,000+ price tag was fully $1,000 more than a Jaguar E-Type and double the cost of a well-equipped Ford Mustang. Still, Altman and Newman were selling exclusivity as much as anything else, hoping to imbue the Avanti II with bespoke snob appeal. The new builders proudly announced that they could built up to 1,000 cars a year, although their actual annual production seldom approached 200 units.
The Avanti II continued into the seventies, although federal regulations forced some design modifications. To meet bumper regulations, the delicate flush bumpers were replaced with bulkier units, giving the car a somewhat ungainly look. The Chevrolet 327 gave way to the 350 (5,733 cc) and then briefly the slow-revving 400 cu. in. (6,470 cc) small block, which was now down to an unimpressive 180 net horsepower (134 kW).
Nate Altman died in 1976 and control of Avanti passed to his brother, Arnold Altman, who finally sold the company in October 1982 to Stephen Blake, a Washington, D.C., businessman. Blake made an aggressive effort to revive the small company, reorganizing the factory and putting a greater emphasis on quality control while negotiating new deals to market the car through selected Cadillac dealers. He dropped the “II” from the name, ordered the addition of body-colored bumper covers to better integrate the big 5 mph (8 km/h) bumpers and developed a planned convertible model. Blake even made a brief stab at racing, but by then he had overextended himself and his financing collapsed.
In 1985, the company’s assets were purchased by Texas businessman Michael Kelly, reportedly for less than $750,000 — not much for even a tiny automaker. In August 1987, Kelly moved production to a new factory in Youngstown, Ohio, and announced ambitious plans for new models, including the long-delayed convertible, a stretched-wheelbase “Luxury Sport Coupe,” an even longer four-door sedan, and even a stretch limo. He also arranged for 50 “Silver Anniversary” coupes for 1988 using supercharged V8s reminiscent of the early Paxton-supercharged R2s.
Kelly’s ambitious overextended the company again and his partner, J.J. Cafaro, took control in August 1988. The limo was mercifully forgotten and the long-wheelbase LSC was dropped, but Cafaro did make about 100 four-door models on a 116-inch (2,946mm) wheelbase. Sales approached 350 for 1989, the highest ever for the post-Studebaker Avanti, but the bottom fell out the following year. The company went bankrupt in 1991 after a final 15 cars were sold.
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
Raymond Loewy died in 1986, but the car he designed was not yet ready to follow him. In the mid-1990s, Avanti fan Jim Bunting commissioned Tom Kellogg, one of the original designers, to help him design a two-seat version of the Avanti. With the help of hot rodder Bill Lang, Bunting built one using as a 1994 Pontiac Firebird as a basis; the 1993–2002 F-body’s plastic body panels were easily swapped for the new fiberglass pieces.
Bunting showed the finished car, dubbed AVX, at Studebaker and Avanti club meetings in 1997. He announced that his new company, AVX Cars, would partner with Lang Custom Auto to make more AVXs, using fourth-generation F-bodies as donor cars. Despite these ambitions, Bunting gave up after making a couple of prototypes and sold the company to John Seaton.
In 1999, Michael Kelly came back into the picture, joining forces with Seaton to start a new Avanti Motor Corporation, based in Georgia. They acquired the defunct older company’s assets and announced that they would build Bunting’s Firebird-based AVX design under the Avanti name. The first 52 cars appeared in 2001 with sticker prices starting at $79,000.
The business was complicated by GM’s cancellation of the F-body — the Firebird and Camaro were dropped after 2002 — but Avanti had enough hardware to build another 200 cars in 2003 and 2004. After that, they reengineered the Avanti on Ford’s new Mustang platform (known as S197, in Ford parlance), using the Mustang GT’s 4,601 cc (281 cu. in.) OHC V8 engine. The revamped car looked much the same as before, although initially only convertibles were available. Coupes and a cheaper V6 model (again using a Mustang engine) were added for 2006. The company even announced an SUV, initially called “Studebaker XUV” and then simply “Avanti Studebaker.” Although it would have been based on Ford’s Super Duty truck chassis, the SUV looked a great deal like a HUMMER H2.
In October 2006, Avanti production moved to a new plant in Cancun, Mexico, and got a new president, David Sharples, formerly of MG Rover. On December 22, 2006, about two months after the Cancun plant opened, Michael Kelly was arrested by the FBI in Jacksonville, Florida. He was later charged with 14 counts of fraud, accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of operating a massive Ponzi scheme to defraud investors in Mexican time-share properties.
Sharples announced that Kelly was no longer part of Avanti and that Kelly’s arrest would not affect Avanti production, but as of this writing, production seems to have ended after about 38 of the 2007 models were built. (The owner of the black car, which is one of the last 2007s built, obtained his at a sizeable discount off the retail price.) A handful of incomplete cars apparently remains in the Cancun facility, but it’s unclear if the company is still operating.
Although the current Avanti is essentially a Mustang in drag — the owner of the black car says even his California DMV registration identifies it as a Ford, not an Avanti — that isn’t so distant from the original as it might seem. Back in 1962, after all, Road & Track characterized the Avanti as essentially a well-equipped “Lark in a gilded cage,” and even features like disc brakes and supercharging could not completely disguise its mundane passenger-car underpinnings. Admittedly, one could make similar statements about the early Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro (which critics like Road & Track did at the time), but the Lark platform had been dated even by the standards of the early sixties, which didn’t help its case.
The Avanti has always been an idea more than a car: Sherwood Egbert’s hopes of saving Studebaker; Nate Altman’s ambitions of making an American Bentley; Loewy’s aesthetic vision. Even if many of these plans have proved quixotic, there’s always a bull market for dreams.
As of this writing, the Avanti appears to be dead, but we wouldn’t be surprised if a design that has flirted with doom more often than Harry Houdini had at least one more miraculous escape up its sleeve.
Our sources included the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, Encyclopedia of American Cars: Over 65 Years of Automotive History (Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, 1996); J.L. Beardsley, “Ancestors of the Avanti,” Car Life Vol. 10, No. 5 (June 1963), pp. 34–37; Patrick Bedard, “Retrospective: Studebaker Avanti: If not ahead of its time, then certainly contrary to it,” Car and Driver Vol. 39, No. 10 (April 1994), pp. 124-127; John R. Bond, “A Plan for the Future,” Car Life Vol. 10, No. 5 (June 1963), pp. 28–33; Arch Brown, “Another Visit with George Romney,” Special Interest Autos #77 (September-October 1983), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Hudsons: driveReports from Hemmings Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich and Richard Lentinello (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2001), p. 96, and and “Why Studebaker-Packard Never Merged With AMC and other revelations by Governor George Romney,” Special Interest Autos #66 (December 1981), pp. 50-55; Arch Brown, Richard Langworth, and the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, Great Cars of the 20th Century (Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, Ltd., 1998); David R. Crippen, “The Reminiscences of Robert F. Andrews” [interview], 2 August 1985, Automotive Design Oral History Project, Accession 1673, Benson Ford Research Center, www.autolife.umd. umich.edu/ Design/Andrews_interview.htm [transcript], accessed 9 June 2008; Fred Fox, “Six Week Wonder: 1963 Studebaker Avanti,” Special Interest Autos #32 (January-February 1976), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Postwar American Independents: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Richard A. Lentinello (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2002), pp. 90-95, and “Studebaker R3 Avanti: America’s Fastest Car?” Special Interest Autos #96 (November-December 1986), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Studebakers: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, eds. Terry Ehrich and Richard Lentinello (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2000), pp. 110-117; Ken Gross, “1960 Lark Convertible: How Studebaker beat the Big Three to the compact punch,” Special Interest Autos #42 (November-December 1977), reprinted in ibid, pp. 90-97; John Gunnell, ed., Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, rev. 4th ed. (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2002); Dave Holls and Michael Lamm, A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design (Stockton, CA: Lamm-Morada Publishing Co. Inc., 1997), pp. 214-216; David H. Ross, “Avanti: the 40-day design,” Car Life Vol. 14, No. 7 (August 1967), pp. 50–53; Brooks Stevens, “How I made a few improvements to the Starliner and created the Gran Turismo Hawk,” Special Interest Autos #25 (November-December 1974), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Studebakers, pp. 82-83; “Studebaker Avanti: It’s only a Lark in a gilded cage to some, while to others it is the newest, freshest design to come from a U.S. builder since the supercharged Cord 812,” Road & Track Vol. 14, No. 2 (October 1962), pp. 30-33; “Studebaker — How Far Forward?!” Car Life Vol. 10, No. 5 (June 1963), pp. 12–19; Rich Taylor, “Variations on a Soaring Theme” and “How Studebaker Came Not to Be,” Special Interest Autos #25 (November-December 1974), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Studebakers, pp. 72-75 and 78-79; and James Arthur Ward, The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995). Some information on Raymond Loewy came from the Official Site of Raymond Loewy (Laurence Loewy, n.d., www.raymondloewy.com/, accessed 9 June 2008) and “Modern Living: Up from the Egg,” Time 31 October 1949, www.time. com, accessed 9 June 2008.
Information on the Avanti II came from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 Avanti II,” HowStuffWorks.com, 25 November 2007, auto.howstuffworks. com/ 1965-1969-avanti-ii1.htm, accessed 10 June 2008, and “How Avanti Cars Work,” HowStuffWorks.com, 13 June 2007, auto.howstuffworks. com/avanti-cars.htm, accessed 9 June 2008; Matthew Chess, Avanti Source Home Page, 1999-2008, avantisource. com, accessed 9 June 2008; the Avanti Motors company website (Avanti Motors, last updated 27 October 2006, www.avantimotors.com/, accessed 10 June 2008); Lindsay Chappell, “Avanti Arrest,” Automotive News 30 January 2007, www.autonews. com, accessed 9 June 2008; and Leslie Clark Stipek, “About Michael Eugene Kelly,” 9 May 2008, www.lesliestipek. com/ michaelekelly.asp, accessed 9 June 2008.
Some technical information and additional biographical details on the Avanti’s creators came from Richard Gallatin’s Avanti website (www.theavanti.com, accessed 9 June 2008).
We also consulted the following period road tests: “Avanti: A Stunning New Studebaker,” Car Life Vol. 9, No. 6 (July 1962); “First 1963 Road Test! Studebaker Avanti,” Motor Trend Vol. 14, No. 7 (July 1962); “Studebaker’s New Avanti”, Road & Track Vol. 14, No. 2 (October 1962); “Avanti: A Step Forward by Studebaker,” Hot Rod June 1963; “New Avanti II Road Test,” Auto Topics 1966; “Avanti II,” Road & Track 1966; “Timeless Beauty,” Car Life 1969; Bob Dinkel, and “Avanti II,” Road & Track 1984, most of which are reprinted in Avanti 1962-1991 Limited Edition Extra, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, Surrey: Brooklands Books Ltd., 2003).