New car buyers either loved or hated the 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2 styling. There was not too much room in between. Never had so many hopes and dreams been invested in one model design. Studebaker was in financial trouble and they had not debuted a new model design for ten years. The design prowess of Raymond Loewy and the mechanical genius of Andy Granatelli would be required to pull off this legendary build. The Avanti was designed with an elegant European influence. Then they powered by Supercharging Studebaker’s only V8 engine available. The result was an ageless design and the fastest production car of its era.
History tells us that when the 1963 Studebaker Avanti and the 1963 Corvette were prviewed at the 1962 New York Auto Show, orders for the Avanti outnumbered those of the Corvette. Unfortunately for Studebaker however, a problem with fitting the fiberglass bodies delayed delivery on the Avantis and they say many of the Avanti buyers ended up going over to Chevrolet for their new Stingray. For the tiny Studebaker company fighting against the Big Three automakers, sometimes even when you win you end up losing.
Studebaker built just 3,834 examples of the Studebaker Avanti R-2 in 1963 and 809 in 1964 when their financial difficulties required them to halt production on the South Bend, Indiana R-2 assembly line. At the time the production line was stopped on the R-2 only 1,600 had been sold. It was one of the most innovative vehicles for its time. But even the Avanti could not make up for years of poor sales.
Rare Irridescent Gray 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2
Specialty Sales Classics in Benicia, California just posted this 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2 for sale on the Cars On Line website yesterday. It is the featured story in their newsletter for this week. (For more photos and a video follow this link.) Even among Avantis this one is rare because of the elegant Irridescent Gray paint. They only produced Avantis in gray for three months during the first year of production. It was not among the colors originally offered for 1963 but it replaced black for a few months while Studebaker worked out a problem with the black paint showing imperfections in the fiberglass bodies.
Old Cars Weekly recently quoted a Wisconsin Avanti owner: “It’s very rare. I’ve never seen another gray one… I’ve gone to national shows and I’ve never seen another one. I don’t know how many they painted gray. I’m sure it’s less than 100, and I’d guess 10 to 20 of them.”
Specialty Sales Classics says their classic sports car features a supercharged 289 V-8 engine under the hood that’s bored to 305 cid, with 305 R-2 heads, oversized valves, R-3 cam and pistons, a twin track rear end with 3.73 gears, new wheels/tires, and a new clutch/plate for the 4-speed manual transmission. This classic is in outstanding shape and it is ready to enjoy immediately, they tell us.
This vehicle underwent a complete frame off restoration shortly after being acquired by its third owner, and it has been beautifully maintained ever since. Specialty Sales Classics tells us, “It is in excellent overall condition without any visible flaws anywhere. The body lines, interior, engine compartment, etc. are all bordering on flawless.”
Here is an ad video produced by Specialty Sales Classics on this gray 1963 Studebaker Avanti R-2.
Avanti R-2 Built for Safety
I remember when the Avanti first came out one of the sales lines was that it could take most corners at 80 miles per hour. It handled like nothing ever seen on the road before. In addition, it was the first American production car that came with front calipered disc brakes. It had both front and rear stabilizer bars, and a roll bar built into the roof. The safety cone door latches were another first in an American car. If you were in a collision the front door latches would not pop open.
When Granatelli took the Avanti to the Bonneville Salt Flats it set 29 land-speed records. Top speed was disclosed to be 160 miles per hour. But Granatelli ran the R-3 supercharged engine to set the record for an American production car at 168 miles per hour.
Motor Trend test drive: Acceleration times were good. 0 to 60 in 8 seconds, quarter-mile time at 15.8 at 91 mph. They say it could go from 0 to 100 miles an hour in 12 seconds.
Born in a great era, the 1963 Corvette Stingray C-2 and the Buick Riviera were both introduced in that year. Studebaker was hoping their Avanti would be that “halo” car that could carry the whole Studebaker brand forward. (Avanti is Italian for “forwward.”) Although the Avanti only lasted until Studebaker left after 1964, the Avanti brand continued under a variety of entrepreneurial owners, as a one-model brand. The Avanti was produced continuously in small batches until 1991.
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