Avanti (car)

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The Avanti is an American performance sports coupe based on the Studebaker Avanti and marketed through a succession of five different ownership arrangements subsequent to Studebaker's discontinuation of the model. After the closure of Studebaker's South Bend factory on December 20, 1963, cars carrying the Avanti nameplate were initially produced from left-over Studebaker components and later, by the Avanti Motor Company from General Motors and Ford chassis and engines. Very few cars were made before all production ceased in 2006.

Altman and Newman[edit]

1976 Avanti II

After Studebaker ended production at South Bend, the "Avanti" model name, tooling, Studebaker truck production rights and parts and plant space were bought by local Studebaker dealers, Nate and Arnold Altman and Leo Newman, who incorporated as Avanti Motor Corporation and hand-built a small number of cars.[1] Leo Newman ran the Studebaker truck parts division which enabled the company to be profitable at its outset. According to Stu Chapman, Studebaker Director of Advertising & Public Relations 1964-1966, in his book 'My Father The Car: Memoirs Of My Life With Studebaker', there was talk with Studebaker of reintroducing the Avanti to Studebaker showrooms in 1965/66, along with ambitious plans for rebadging an Isuzu Bellett as an entry level Studebaker, and combining with Canadian Motor Industries.

The Altman brothers introduced a slightly modified version of the car in 1965 under the brand name "Avanti II".[2] which initially had a 327 cu in (5.4 L) Chevrolet Corvette engine. This evolved to the 400, then the small-block 350, and then the 305 for 1981.[3] The 305 V8 had electronic engine controls, 155 hp (116 kW), and GM's Turbo 350 automatic transmission with lock-up. Building one of the 1980s Avanti IIs required 10 to 12 weeks, depending on special color or upholstery orders.[3] The last Avanti II made came off the line with a V6 engine from Roush and only one was made. After Nate Altman's death, Arnold Altman ran the company until it was sold in 1982.[4] From 1963 to 1987, Avanti IIs were built on the Studebaker-designed chassis, then the Chevrolet Monte Carlo chassis was used; Chevy discontinued the Monte Carlo in 1989, and Avanti switched to the Chevrolet Caprice chassis.

Year Engine Power Wheelbase Length Width Chassis Transmission Instrumentation
1965 327CID V8 300 hp (224 kW) 109 in (2,769 mm)[5] 192.5 in (4,890 mm) 70.4 in (1,788 mm) Full perimeter with X 4-speed manual or automatic[5] Speedometer, tachometer,[5] fuel gauge, ammeter, temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, vacuum pressure gauge[6]

Stephen H. Blake[edit]

On October 1, 1982, real-estate developer Stephen H. Blake bought the rights to the Avanti II.[citation needed] The state of Indiana guaranteed $1.9 million in loans to Avanti, as part of the financial package offered Blake when he bought the company.[7] He made modifications to the car, which had remained unchanged since the production of the Avanti II model began in the mid-1960s. Rectangular headlights and modern plastic body-colored bumpers were introduced.[8] He also dropped the "II" in the car's name. All subsequent cars were called the "Avanti".[citation needed] Blake's company declared bankruptcy and he resigned in February 1986.[9]

Michael E. Kelly[edit]

1989 Avanti II Convertible

The Avanti Motor Company was purchased by Michael Eugene Kelly.[citation needed] The company then had second-generation Avanti styling originated by Tom Kellogg, the youngest member of the original Studebaker Avanti design team. Kellogg was fatally injured in a car accident in California on August 14, 2003.[10]

Cafaro years[edit]

1991 Avanti four-door sedan

The company was acquired and run from 1987 – 1991 by John J. Cafaro.[11][12] With the help of the State of Ohio, he moved all Avanti production from South Bend - its birthplace - to the Rust Belt area of Youngstown, Ohio. In 1988 and 1989 Avanti made two-door coupes and a convertible. The 1988 Avanti were called the "Silver Year" models, marking 25 years since the Avanti's introduction.[citation needed]

In 1989, Cafaro lost faith in the original coupe and introduced a four-door version, of which 90 were built. In four years, only 405 Avantis were made at the Youngstown plant, which closed in 1991.[13]

Move to Georgia[edit]

Kelly repurchased the company in 1999.[citation needed] He moved its operations from Ohio to Georgia and produced redesigned Avanti automobiles in Villa Rica from 2000 to 2005.[citation needed] From 2004, Ford chassis and engines were used. In October 2005 an internet report said "Avanti Motors [had] recently announced a new relationship with Ford Motor Company and was planning a big comeback".[14] In early 2006, Kelly moved Avanti production to a new plant in Cancun, Mexico, but the company foundered after Kelly's arrest on fraud counts in December 2006, over a very large Ponzi scheme he was running.[15] [16] The last Avanti rolled off the line in Cancun, Mexico in March 2006. All the Mustang-based Avantis used V-8 engines, with the option of a Ford V-6. Only one 2006 Avanti was built with a Ford V-6 engine. The factory and showroom were emptied in 2011 and have been sold. Many extremely rare Studebaker and Avanti concepts and racing vehicles that were on the second floor of the building in Cancun have been moved elsewhere and/or sold.[17][not in citation given]


  • Langworth, Richard M. "Avanti II: Nate Altman can make you a car that you will love". Automobile Quarterly. New Albany, IN. X (3rd Quarter, 1972): 276–281. 
  1. ^ Langworth, p. 278
  2. ^ Langworth, p. 257
  3. ^ a b Hogg, Tony (ed.). "1981 Buyer's Guide". Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1981 (January–February 1981): 83. 
  4. ^ Oliver, Myrna. Arnold Altman, 88; Kept the Futuristic Avanti Alive After Studebaker's Demise. Los Angeles Times Obituaries, 13 January 2006
  5. ^ a b c "Avanti: 1965 Avanti II Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. 1965. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Manual 8 - 14". Avantisource.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  7. ^ Springfield Union, January 27, 1985, Page 34.
  8. ^ Oregonian, October 14, 1983, Page 75.
  9. ^ Plain Dealer, February 27, 1986, Page 109.
  10. ^ Martin, Douglas (2003-08-19). "Thomas W. Kellogg, 71; A Studebaker Avanti Designer". The New York Times. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  11. ^ Schuon, Marshall.About Cars; 1989 Avanti Catches Your Eye. New York Times, 23 April 1989
  12. ^ Albright, Mark. Worker Hopes Avanti Has Its Day—again (Part 1). Chicago Tribune 18 December 1994
  13. ^ Albright, Mark. Worker Hopes Avanti Has Its Day—again (Part 2). Chicago Tribune 18 December 1994
  14. ^ Spinelli M, Game On: Avanti Motors Hopes to Survive and Thrive in 2006 at jalopnik.com, October 11, 2005
  15. ^ "SEC Charges Twenty-Six Defendants in $428 Million Securities Fraud That Targeted Senior Citizens and Retirement Savings". Securities Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Archived from the original on September 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  16. ^ "SEC Press Release". Securities Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Archived from the original on January 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  17. ^ "Avanti Motors future plans in flux after arrest of chairman". Motortrend press report. January 30, 2007. Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 

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