This is a 1964 Studebaker Avanti. I think we can all share a collective giddy intake of breath with this one, because this car means that Ironman exists.
You see, the Frenchman who designed this car, Raymond Loewy, was something of a Tony Stark back in his day. He entered the University of Paris when he was only twelve, patented a miniature airplane in 1908 when he was fifteen, and then proceeded to found his own company. After that, he became a decorated war hero in World War I, and then a respected artist and fashion designer in New York City, working for Vogue and Vanity Fair. He designed all kinds of things for all kinds of clients, including Westinghouse, Sears-Roebuck and, in 1936, Studebaker. He fenced, boxed and hiked regularly, was reported to change suits three times a day, and owned houses in New York, Paris, San-Tropez, and Palm Springs (that last one featured an indoor/outdoor pool). Oh, he also flew planes in his spare time and was married to a model half his age. Ah, to be French.
In the early sixties, the president of Studebaker commissioned Loewy to design a small, sporty two door to attract the elusive “youths” to the brand. The 1963 Avanti (which is the Italian word for “forward”) is what resulted. Unfortunately, Tony Stark couldn’t save Studebaker from bankruptcy in 1964, which means this car was the last original Avanti.
You could pick from three V8s, developing between 240 and 335 horsepower, and two transmissions, a four speed manual and a three speed automatic. But that’s not really the interesting part of this car’s story. You see, the Avanti, despite selling slowly in the beginning, developed enough of a following for Studebaker engineers and owners to band incorporate and make a new Avanti (cleverly called the Avanti II) after Studebaker went under. That means that you could buy a brand new Avanti up to the year 1991.
These zombie Studebakers could be had as coupes, sedans, convertibles and even, in later years, with Corvette engines. This car wasn’t particularly well cared for, but at the end of the day, this is a vehicle designed by a charismatic playboy and produced for almost thirty years after its parent company went the way of the Dodo bird. A genuine classic.
-Easy way to tell the difference between Avantis: the 1963 models had round headlights, while the 64’s had square ones.
-When one of his guests accidentally tripped and fell into his pool at his San-Tropez home, Loewy jumped into the pool with them to spare them any embarrassment.
-I took this picture near a really creepy abandoned farmhouse. I think I might now be cursed or otherwise haunted.